SMARTlab approaches Experience Design in an innovative format framed by improvisation, testing and iteration of models for learning, sales, interactive arts, gaming and leisure. We see Experience Design as a metaconcept providing direction, vocabulary and technique that can enable multiple disciplines to work together in a unified manner. As Karl Long writes in the ‘Experience Curve’:
Borrowing from the design strategies of successful theme parks, Experience Design emerged in 2001 as a recognised design method for manufacturers and retailers in need of generating excitement about their brands or in-store experience. Experience marketing is meant to immerse the customer in a customised/custom-built environment programmed to educate and energise enthusiasm about a brand.
The advent of online shopping has significantly affected the retail industry’s perception of the in-store experience. With no necessity now to go to a store, retailers and product manufacturers are having to rethink the promotion paradigm and pull bodies into stores to rationalise capital investment in brick and mortar and justify their place and identity on the street. Manufacturers have designed retail-style outlets that are in fact there not to sell but to promote a brand. In New York City, Samsung, Sony, Nokia and Adidas have followed the successful example of Apple, bringing a brand and its identity to the street and making shops fun places to hang out in and try new products.
User-centred Experience Design can be used to engage communities and to:
• build sustainable competitive advantage
• differentiate brands in a crowded world
• build brand equity and perceived value
• drive brand awareness
• create excitement and momentum
SMARTlab has been working with local government and development agencies in East London since 2005, providing strategic vision and skills/experience training as the neighbourhoods of East London prepare for major transformation with the arrival of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. In this we will build further on our existing track record of event and experience design and management. We have, for instance, led major workshops for the European Commission and Media Programmes in Creative Arts and Experience Labs, with events ranging from day workshops to full-week retreats that take ideas from concept to 2D and 3D prototype stage, or encourage ‘emotional intelligence’ and experience cue recognition, as well as standard ‘pitch strategies’.
By way of example, SMARTlab could provide the following Knowledge Exchange experience sessions for industry:
• ‘Discovering the Message’: Experience Thinktanks, taking clients through an
engaging process of discovering what they want their messages to say, and
the best ways to deliver specific messages
• Delivery System: development and iterative testing of bespoke systems for
delivery of selected brand messages across the sector
• Proof of Concept workshops and open pitch sessions
• Competitions and Awards (with BAFTA)
• ‘Training the Trainers for Experience Design’: extended workshops and
We have collaborated closely with the London Development Agency on the Games Academy, and with BAFTA on a new set of awards for interactive experience design achieved through Meaningful Games and Mobile Games for Learning.
SMARTlab’s main site at University College Dublin (UCD) hosts a formidable team of recognised industry professionals, including health and assistive-technology experts, designers, artists, technologists, programmers, architects and engineers. Many of our team members started their careers in the commercial sector and have a wealth of expertise in Experience Design for the health, retail, entertainment and hospitality industries. The SMARTlab team is available for consultation to help explore, focus and create the right message and delivery approach for clients and customers. We can host creative brainstorming sessions at UCD, or can do on-site visits for creative focus sessions.