Our partnership with BMW on the National Aftersales Conference is built on a 12-year relationship of creative trust and a mutual desire to awe their audience. Each year, we craft evolving event branding and messaging - reinforcing BMW's latest communication strategies and programs with their dealers, that flows through to all aspects of their event, from the first communication to the final night party.
Our most recent, NAC23, exemplified our "design with intent" mantra. Elevation, reflection, and immersion were ever present threads we used to translate the conference's theme: "Game Changers."
Parti is an architectural term for the organizing, overarching thought driving a design. We always like to start with one; it adds a subtle cohesion to a show and grounds the core messaging and brand.
Sometimes a parti is more than just a shape or design element. Sometimes it's an idea. The parti for BMW NAC23, was the idea of reflection and expanding space, representing the BMW Dealers and their Aftersales teams, who they are now, and who they are becoming - Game Changers. Sullivan (Production Designer) and I were inspired by Es Devlin’s “Forest of Us”. We immediately drew the connection between her use of mirrors, the feeling it evoked in us, and the feeling we wanted to convey to the BMW NAC audience.
Our production design incorporated suspended squares of Vanish (transparent LED) tiles in half circle around the three screens (main content and IMAG), and flanked by rectangular mirrors. In doing this, we created a space where the half circle of tiles were reflected in the mirrors, creating an illusion of space, additional dimension, and dynamic movement on all the screens. We then made generative graphics, derived from each PowerPoint Slide, that played across the Vanish tiles and reflected in the mirrors. Together with the content, the design created an immersive, kinetic energy enveloping the audience, and pushing them to think beyond the stage itself.
With this particular client there is a long history of trust and collaboration, so we love to push the envelope at BMW shows. Even so, this was an ambitious concept. Our ideas often incorporate bleeding edge technology, and admittedly the use of mirrors facing an audience is a risky endeavor. It's one of the reason we put our production design into a virtual reality rig, and let clients experience it during our pitch process. It also gives proof of concept to the entire design and technical team. The VR experience also allows us to work through many technical and budget challenges before we get into install, which saves us time, and our clients budget!
This was one of those rare times when we knew we had something special during install. When the test patterns came on the screens and we saw them reflected in the mirrors, we heard an audible gasp in the room. The phones came out for photos and videos (with client permission, of course). Then, with our incredible content team, and the expert touch of our Lighting Designer, Rob Holland, it became magic.
The attendees entered with a reverse entrance, to see their photos, taken just moments before, on the vanish screens and reflected in the mirrors behind them. Then they took their seats, and the opening experience played across all the screens and mirrors, reminding the audience they, together with BMW, are Game Changers.