Designing Experiences You Won’t Forget

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Published
18.10.2017

In less than two weeks the Danish PR and Event agency Cultureworks is behind Creativity World Forum taking place in Aarhus, Denmark. This is the next big project for the young agency who uses only the best experiences and solutions from prior events as an inspiration to the upcoming events. This is why DANISH™ asked Cultureworks to reflect upon their last big project: Cluster Square as a part of Aarhus Festival 2017. Enjoy!

An informative report from Cluster Square, part of Aarhus Festival 2017

The scent of coffee was spreading at Cluster Square, the cultural marketplace at Klostertorvet, which was part of Aarhus Festival. It was 11 am, and the city of Aarhus was slowly waking up on a warm August morning. Small groups of people out exploring the festival were peeking into the square. Most of them were drawn to the middle, where a tall Fjällräven art piece was located. It was hard to imagine that the previous night, the square was a blazing hot dance floor filled with people rocking out to the beats of DJ Vinnie Who’s set. The next morning, it was filled with families and young people creating a large art piece together.

This is the second year that Culture Works, the Aarhus cultural event design bureau, hosted Cluster Square. The square provided a platform for creative clusters in the city, thus the name. Marie from Culture Works says,

“We wanted to give something back to Aarhus and all the creative clusters. The programme was filled with different events all week long. We hosted a risotto cook off, we had a day full of denim and the stage was packed with live concerts every day. The square changed every day to present something for all types of people and all ages.”

With Cluster Square, Culture Works wanted to create an intimate square in the middle of the city’s hectic life. Marie continues:

“The entrance to the square was quite subtle and narrow. It had two functions. First, we wanted to intrigue people by hiding what was behind the “curtain”. Second, we wanted the square to retain the intimacy that only a shielded room has.”

Culture Works designed the square in a way that encouraged people to explore, hang out and be present.

“At Cluster Square, we wanted to combine intimacy and communities. The square was open to everyone who wanted to meet new people and to groups that wanted a little more privacy. One of the ways we handled this was by framing the area, excluding all exterior interaction, so that people would pay full attention to what was happening in the square. We created an intimate space where we forced users to be present with the things in front of them. We also created private areas that had the “room in a room” effect. These invited people to kick back with their friends in smaller corners,” says Marie.

More people came to the square as the day went on in Aarhus, and chattering voices filled every corner. Suddenly, the buzzing was replaced by 50 young voices singing a capella, demanding everyone’s attention. People listened intensely, and the square slowly came together.

There are many aspects involved in creating an experience. Marie explains how Culture Works as a cultural event bureau views their events as all-round experiences:

“An event is not just an event. We want it to be an experience. We see our events as journeys that start the first time our users interact with an event, whether that is in their Facebook feeds or by word of mouth. The experience we want to create for people isn’t limited to the hours we are hosting an event at a specific venue. We want it to live beyond that. We hope to create experiences that people remember.”

Designing an experience that sticks with people takes sharp communication, timing, good design and a little magic. Marie continues:

“The event design affects the impression we leave people with. At Cluster Square, we wanted the customer flow to be fluid. We designed Cluster Square in a way that people were looped into. We guided people around in a circle, “nudging” them through the different areas of the square. Benches and tables were placed in the middle of the square to encourage people to settle down for a while. We placed a bar in the cosy area under the biggest tree on the square to draw people in deeper. We hoped to create a space where people came to experience the square and the events.”

In the square, day turned into night. People enjoyed the late summer evening around the tables and benches. Some danced, others hung out under the big tree in the back. The music got louder as the disco ball lit up the entire square. What was a square of artistic creations and family time was transformed by the darkness and dance music into a square with a vibrant festival-like feeling.

As Marie says;

“It’s one thing to remember an experience. It’s another to not be able to forget it.”

On that note, Cluster Square headed towards another unforgettable night.