At Culture Works, there’s no such thing as a “stand-alone brilliant idea”. Instead, the cultural event design and PR agency based in Aarhus, Denmark spends weeks and months designing original events based on cultural insights. The agency is a driving force in the upcoming Danish Design Award in Kolding, Denmark.
Strategy. Concept. Design. Execution. These four phases are focal points at Culture Works, and are ever-present for every single event with which the agency is involved, whether it is a small VIP event or a music festival. Less than a month from now, the second half of the Danish Design Award will be carried out in Kolding. Culture Works is designing and executing the event, which will be attended by up to 600 guests, and which will celebrate the best new Danish design solutions.
At the forefront of the event is Andreas Nielsen, Head of Event Design, and Mads Severinsen, Head of Communications. Together with their colleagues at the agency, they specialize in customizing events to perfection, but even though every event is unique they can find some points of resemblance between them.
“Generally speaking, you need an element of originality and a wow factor when designing an event. Something that the guests will not have seen before, and which both surprises them and makes them feel comfortable,” says Mads Severinsen and Andreas Nielsen continues:
“There are many things you can do to surprise people or make them comfy, but you cannot just copy an idea from a previous event. And there’s no such thing as a brilliant idea that falls from a clear sky. The first step is to learn about the event’s guests, and what is likely to catch their attention.”
So, the wow factor – that one thing that makes an event unique and original – is not necessarily known beforehand. It is a part of the concept development and design phase, where ideas begin to take shape. Whether it is a music event, performance art, or a huge art installation, its elements will depend on the expected audience and on Culture Works’ knowledge of them. The agency spends a lot of time carrying out research and doing fieldwork to get to know every quirky little detail about the guests and their cultural habits. The very name “Culture Works” references the fact that the agency works not just with events, but with the entire culture connected to them.
Photo by Culture Works
This thorough cultural analysis is fundamental to the next steps in the process, and is also the reason why Culture Works doesn’t transfer great ideas from one event to another. In their firm view, that is just not an option. Mads Severinsen explains:
“Sometimes people ask us to repeat something they’ve seen at another event of ours. But that’s not how we work or what we believe in. We work with individual storytelling and unique designs for each client. You can say that this is our uniqueness. We don’t do generic stuff, but tailor every solution to the specific client and the people interacting.”
For the same reason, strategy and concept must be right. At Culture Works every event is built on a foundation of profound preparatory work, going right to the heart of the matter and asking a lot of questions: What is the purpose of this event? Who is the audience? What do they like to do? How can we wow them? If the strategy and concept aren’t on point, it will be hard to succeed when the time comes to design and execute. To reach this goal of creating exclusive experiences, from strategy to execution, Culture Works uses a working tool – The Cultural Platform.
Photo by Culture Works
The Cultural Platform consists of three C’s: Commerce, Community, and Culture. By integrating all their projects from a cultural perspective, Culture Works operates in the area of tension between the three, because it’s at this point of impact that an event comes to life.
“When you bring those three elements into play – that’s when it pays off. That’s where you impact the attendees and that’s when your event succeeds,” Andreas Nielsen ends.
Together with Baks Arkitekter, Culture Works is a driving force on the soon-to-be event Danish Design Award.