Friday, October 30, 2009

A Manifesto for Conducting Moments

"The role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever the scale chosen by the artist."
Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics
Organizing a social event, such as a party or a concert, is designing.

As a designer, it is for people and your environment that you get your inspiration from and create for. How often is it, that you as a designer actually can see the faces of people when they discover your work? Do you ever get that feeling that is just like when your friend unwraps the present you spent good time conducting?

The whole process of doing such a thing as an event is very much like the process of a design. You make a brief, have a budget, a target market and sometimes a client. There are elements involved that you have to combine and sort out; may they be decorations, bands, artists, theme, venue and so on.

When you conduct a party, you design a grid and how the people actwithin your grid is what makes the product. You don't always know the outcome, but you decide the small details to be in it. Now, don't get into the idea that you are a god or something (it is tempting), but merely that you are, as aforementioned, the conductor. You as a designer can set upa real situation for people to interact with, which will create unexpected outcomes.

Designing a social event is not escaping from actually designing a tangible object for people to view.
The object, is in fact the outcome of the creation itself. What is exciting and special about this form of the design, is that the outcome is so unpredictable. You have to cease the wish of controlling everything, and not be afraid of all the "what ifs", because you never know what happens. Fear is the mind killer*,
and if you behold it, the chances are you are not going to go through with it at all.

You engage people to use the inventiveness they have inside and really love to use - especially if they feel that they are part of something and get to let themselves go. It is not always that people are fully aware of what they are creating in such an environment. They are just behaving towards each other in a way that creates a certain atmosphere - going with a flow of how the people around them are acting. Just imagine it as a rock concert. The whole crowd is like a wave. The people in the back are slacking in their chairs or sofas, in front of them are people who stand to view and listen to the music while nipping at their beer - maybe just making small movements as stomping the beat with their feet, hands to leg or nodding of head. Moving even further we find the people that are smashing into each other and against the stage. Jumping, shouting and throwing more beer than what gets into their system. Which is probably a lot. They are creating both a shape and a set of different moods without even being too conscious about it being a form of art. In the whole design of the concert they play their roles differently.Some elements are standing out while others are just small, but yet important details of the whole picture. Situations develop naturally during the party, and are inevitably triggered by what you, as the designer of the event, set up.
We have the power to create situations, and as designers can start something people enjoy that generates its own groove.

As I have done in relation to this manifesto, and that I hope for doing again - in a bigger scale,
with better time and a network that allows it to grow as an event. I designed an evening for people to enjoy - I brought in elements that I expected people to play with and set the theme to "Welcome Summer"
(which was slightly ironic since it started raining). I engaged them to bring their own sun glasses (as I know that not all people are too fond of dressing up in costumes when they go to parties). And I brought some bright coloured shutter shades, nerd specs, put up lanterns, fairy lights, serpentines and balloons
(as I think balloons are great for any occasion), and created a playlist - which actually crashed as I made it and I lost half of it, but people didn't know and they didn't notice. And as stated, you cant be afraid of the what ifs - and don't let them set you way off if they happen. There is always a solution. At a point of the night, when the time was right I brought out some neon band-aids that was given to people, which they used in creative ways. Everyone, including the bar crew, had a great night - and they all sure did play around with the details I had provided as a part of conducting the evening.

So as a designers I propose you to not be so bound to the idea that everything has to be published
in a book, hung on a wall, put online or on a screen. Get away from that computer once in a while and
conduct a design that involves other people, as well as yourself. It is important that you are there as
both an observer of what is happening, and as a part of your own design. And last, but not least
- for networking.
"An important aspect of design is the degree to which the object involves you in its own completion." Brian Eno

*Term borrowed from The Chemichal Brothers.


  1. what is not present, can be just as important as what is. So I'll claim inclusion in your design ;)

    In all cases, very cool. Manifesto is sweet sound.

  2. Wow- very cool. I will dream of "Welcome summer" party with sunglasses tonight... Here in Oslo tonight it`s actualy snowing down for the first time this winter.

  3. Really cool event which made lots of people become creative; the sunglasses-gimmick really got some laughs and talks going, and the fact that there was a theme helped it distinguish the party from other, more "common" parties.

    The venue can always be discussed, and is of course one of the things that are alot harder to make perfect. In my opinion, a party of this size would have been more homogeneous if the bar was located in the main venue (the big room) - but once again, this is on a very different resource level, and I still think the venue worked well and was nicely colored up! :)

    Finally, the going-home bandaids made me very emotional!

    Thanks for a good night:)

  4. I wasn't there put I had really good returns about this party :) Very nice decoration and really colourful. The theme of summer was nicely represented. Everyone kept exchanging their sunglasses, it seemed really fun ! Nice job :)

  5. First of all, this is a very creative idea!
    You can see the inspiration from various artists such as Andy Warhol's factory project, which includes not only his own art, but the whole process of the working together, making people art.
    He also used multimedia, such as film and photo.

    I love the use of colors, first of al to catch the interest of people. And then to show "joy", since bright colors is a symbol of hapiness and summer wich was the main topic of the party.

    People look like they are having a great time!
    Good work Hanne :)