I have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I decided to spend this holiday with my North Carolina family. I not only got to meet my second cousin, Calista Hough (I am Puertorican–second cousin just means cousin to us) and spend quality time with my amazing NC peeps in a lovely environment that actually experiences season changes, but I also found time to peruse a few worthy instructional positions in both the Pacific Northwest (my chosen second home) and North Carolina AND I also had a small aha moment regarding immersive design while drinking a glass of Fat Bastard chardonnay. As my family and I sat down to dinner, and my cousin’s husband poured me a glass of wine, I was struck by the label on this particular bottle (interesting bottle designs generally draw me in more than a wine’s reputation or description. This doesn’t always make for the best gustatory experience, but it does make for some sweet decorations).
Fat Bastard’s logo features clean typography, simple contrast and a warm color palette. But, what really drew me in is the hippo, and his seamless integration into the design of the logo. Note how the hippo appears to indent or sink the label where he sits. It’s irreverent, intrusive, and completely whimsical. I was immediately drawn into the wine, and drawn into learning more about the origins of Fat Bastard; I wanted to know where the name came from (it’s Guy’s way of describing awesome things), who Thierry & Guy are, and how they decided on a logo. I wanted the story of Thierry & Guy (coincidentally, it’s a great story! Check it out here.) I was hooked (the wine was also quite tasty, and was indeed a deliciously fat bastard of a chardonnay). As I pored over the logo, I exclaimed, “this is so immersive! Immersive design!”
Immersive design? What is that? Did you make that up? No, no I did not unfortunately. Immersive design is a term created by 5D, the Future of Immersive Design, founder Alex McDowell. Immersive design is driven by a group of designers, educators, and artists committed to integrated, engaging design, which is achieved through storytelling in both live and virtual environments, whether interactive or passive. What I find most fascinating about this model of design is the use of storytelling, non-linear and conceptual strategies to create what McDowell and other immersive designers refer to as worldbuilding. So, what is worldbuilding? I’ll let the 5D conference tackle this one…
Worldbuilding is the new metaphor for the design and iteration process, creating and actualizing the story space in digital narrative media. It addresses the design thinking, the process, and the experience of creating new worlds for storytelling.
Worldbuilding expresses the full arc of design’s role through production:
- Inception – imagining and developing the world
- Prototyping – testing the story space and visualizing the world
- Manufacturing – building the world, real or virtual, for studio and capture
- Finishing – honing final resolution and the experience of the world.
This method of design is an exciting discovery for me. I struggle with finding creative direction in my designs at times, particularly those that are moving away from the Keynote format (as in the current bane of my existence, a one page visualization of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. I believe my problem stems from a lack of formal training and experience with this idea of “the full arc of design” as it relates to the creation of a final product. I think the systematic process created by 5D–moving a project from ideation, to visualization, to building, to final testing and actual experientation (experiential + experimentation)–is a particularly useful one for the use of design as a means of solving the world’s most pressing problems. I also think implementing this with my own projects, from online supplemental learning materials to in-class discussions, will help me in better in building an immersive experience for students, an experience that combines knowledge, analysis, and application. None of this may seem new to the average educator, but, from what I’ve observed and learned of our current educational model (what I refer to as fast food education, in part inspired by Ken Robinson’s “Bring on the Learning Revolution”). As a side note, if you’d like another example of information that is designed in an immersive way, check out the RSA Animates series. Here is one based on Robinson’s ideas: