Special Events Blog
Timo Kiuru Photo by Sergei Pavlov

Why Great Event Design Is Like Great Sex

You read that right--if you are designing events that appeal to the subconscious and touch the senses, you're on the right track.

“Good design is as little design as possible,” according to the legendary German industrial designer Dieter Rams. This was one of his 10 principles of good design defined in the late 1970s. 

Do his principles still apply to today’s day and age?

Definitely not all event professionals are on the same page with Mr. Rams. If we look at any of the epic eSports tournaments, opening ceremonies that feel endless, or big budget technology and car launches--in all of these fields, there seems be an obsession with more is better, or making an impression by creating something as grand as possible in order to keep the client.

On the other hand, there are exceptions to the rule as in the case of Snarkitecture--an experiential design studio that is very loyal to the minimalistic principle of the internationally recognized German design guru.

Alvar Aalto, one of modern architecture's masters, once stated: “Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form.” Also Rams believed that good design makes a product useful. Does it then mean that all the excessive performance and technology of the luxury sport cars actually makes them bad design? How about most fashion accessories that are beautiful yet barely functional?

To get to the root of good design, we need to observe and understand people better.

There’s no way around it: Our lives are ruled by the “90 percent rule.” In fact, welcome to the worldwide posse of 90 percenters. We’re all part of this party.

Here’s the deal:

  • Approximately 90 percent of decision-making is based on subconscious cues. Whether it’s buying a new pair of sneaker or a luxury bag, or deciding to end or continue a relationship, we react on emotions and rationalize later.

  •  As much as 90 percent of communication can be non-verbal. It’s not so much about what you write. It’s how you present it that matters.

  •  90 percent or more of all mental-activity is subconscious. All of us have two minds: the conscious and the subconscious mind. We use the conscious mind for critical, rational thinking. But the truth is we rarely think rationally, because only 10 percent or less of our thinking is conscious. This means that most of the time we don’t have any control over what’s going on in our minds.
  • 90 percent of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. Doesn’t this mean 90 percent of a brand is emotion? Certainly if your brand doesn’t evoke any feelings, it’s not a brand.

But remember, the antagonists are always more passionate than the protagonists. The strength of a brand is not how many people embrace it but how many people will keep on declining the idea of it and thus making it famous. It’s no surprise that emotions are born in our subconscious mind.

So what does this 90 percent rule have to do with good event design? Everything. It leads us to the definition of good event design.

The narrowest definition of good event design is that it’s something beautiful and functional. Yes, this definition applies to various other fields such as product design, architecture, and advertising and so on.

But it’s not enough.

Almost 15 years ago when introducing the first iPod, Steve Jobs said, ”It’s not just how it looks or feels, design is how it works.” Jobs was certainly following Rams’ definitions of what good design is, as the Apple icon was definitely on a mission to create minimalistic products that are easy to use and understand.

The editor of TheCoolHunter.net, Tuija Seipell, updated Steve’s definition in the following manner: ”It’s not just how it looks or works; design is how it makes you feel.”

What is good design to you? Think about the last time you had an experience of remarkably good design. How the package sounded and felt like when you opened it. What it smelled like when the product was brand-new. How the product felt like when you touched it or put it on. Perhaps even how it tasted, and of course how beautiful it looked. Most importantly, remember how it made you feel?

Great sex is what great design is! And, great design is like great sex!

As described of design, sex is definitely a multi-sensory experience, since it engages all of the five senses. By engaging all of your senses, sex is an immersive experience and makes you feel something. Loved, happy, fulfilled, thrilled, disappointed, used, betrayed, shamed …

Engaging senses is the key to evoking emotion and evoking emotion is the key to action. Throughout times sex has always been one of the most powerful ways to motivate and manipulate people.

Event professionals, it’s time to take good design seriously. Do less, but better.

Principles of Good Design by Dieter Rams

1. Good design is innovative.

2. Good design makes a product useful.

3. Good design is aesthetic.

4. Good design makes a product understandable.

5. Good design is unobtrusive.

6. Good design is honest.

7. Good design is long-lasting.

8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

9. Good design is environmentally friendly.

10. Good design is as little design as possible.

Timo Kiuru is an award-winning creative director and the founder of a creative brand consultancy The Unthinkable. He has written a free interactive book on experience marketing, and travels the world speaking to professional audiences

 

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