Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Design Inspiration: How the Heck Do Cutting-Edge Ideas Form and Evolve?

For ideas to manifest into wonderful creations, they need to be nurtured, expanded upon, and allowed to evolve. In my style of event production, this works best when ideas are thrown out to a group of people and massaged and manipulated until they morph into something that meets an objective, beyond its original intent. I am a huge believer in the power of collaboration. It is one of the cornerstones of my sessions whenever I speak to industry groups on event design.

One of my greatest joys as Executive Director of Event Design for MGM Resorts Events (MRE) is to incorporate creative partners from a wide variety of disciplines that are not shy about bringing new ideas to the table. On one scale, the MRE team collaborates instinctively and without missing a beat on all of our scenic and prop designs. And on a larger scale, incorporating digital media designers, partners with exciting backgrounds in entertainment, and scenic designers with experience in concert and/or theater backgrounds all offer fresh approaches to the world of event design.

Some Recent Ideas My Partners and I Have Been Exploring

  • A product  I am currently enamored with - LED Tape. It allows one to internally illuminate a variety of scenic pieces while giving the lighting designer total control of color and movement. This goes way beyond what you see in "light up" bars or furniture, mainly because it is DMX controllable. It is a cost effective way of getting great looks without having to have additional lighting fixtures externally illuminating scenic decor elements.
  • Recent advances in software and creative stock content have made 3-D mapping a much more affordable way of animating scenery. There is certainly no replacement for wonderfully designed 3-D content to project on surfaces. However, some excellent effects can be created by collaborating with a good lighting and digital media designer utilizing stock content when budget doesn't allow for custom content. I foresee a time in the near future when much more event scenery is created through video on 3-D surfaces, as opposed to standard, "static prop" design.
  • Vinyl graphics and digitally-printed graphics applied to dance floors are certainly nothing new in events. However, my team and I have been experimenting with direct-to-wood printing on dance floors and stages recently. The advantages are that it is a cost-effective, less labor-intensive way to incorporate graphic designs onto these surfaces, allowing limitless possibilities for dance floor and stage design.
For an entertaining look at the ideas mentioned above, take a look at the "fans" used in the wall decor in the video entitled  “Attraction” to see LED Tape in action. Also check out the accordion-style, circular design on the back wall for a fun, inexpensive, mapping example that is much more interesting than standard scenery with lighting; and lastly, this film showcases a great example of the direct-to-wood digital printing on a dance floor.

For a more elaborate 3-D mapping example, check out "Chrome." I LOVE this animated wall decor we call the "Robot Girls" (as they resemble 2 female robots lying on their backs, knee-to-knee). Notice the diagonal squares incorporated into the wall decor to see another excellent example of LED Tape controlled by the lighting designer. For the complete animation of the Robot Girls, which was time-coded to the exact beat of three (3) entertainment production numbers with a cast of 30 dancers, check out the Chrome Robot Girls Final Composite.

Best Advice for Those Starting out in the Design Business

This is the most frequently asked question as I tour the country speaking. My response is always the same. Do the right things and don't do the wrong things. What I mean by that is your integrity and work ethic - the way you conduct yourself in your personal and professional lives - are your greatest assets. Your high standards are noticed by most people, and low standards are noticed by everyone. To be, and remain, successful in business, you must have four (4) key qualities ... you must be committed, accountable, resourceful, and the fourth can go either way - you need to be innovative, or the low price leader. I look at the analogy of Apple and Walmart. Both are highly successful companies. Which type of company would you rather be?

For the past 32 years, King Dahl, Executive Director of Event Design for MGM Resorts Events, has been engaged in art, design, environmental aesthetics, and music. He has intertwined these varied passions into a flourishing career in the world of special events. Fresh out of college, King began his career in 1982 being mentored by the 2013 Special Events Magazine Lifetime Achievement Recipient, Cheryl Fish, and worked his way up in her company, It’s The Main Event. Event innovators Andrea Michaels, John Daly, and Dr. Joe Jeff Goldblatt were also major inspirations. After several years with ITME, King opened his own company, King Dahl Event Design, based in Los Angeles, CA. After over a decade as a business owner, King sold KDED to take advantage of an offer from MGM Resorts Events. King now leads a 100+ person team that produces over 1000 events a year. The majority of events that MGM Resorts Events produces occur in the city in which they are headquartered, Las Vegas, Nevada. However, the MRE team is also called on to design and produce many events domestically and internationally on an annual basis.

King continues to be propelled by other leaders in the event industry, both established and newer to the fold, but also gains inspiration by visionaries in diverse creative fields. Throughout his career, King and his associates have created environments for celebrities in film, sports, and music. Virtually every Fortune 500 company and many meaningful charitable foundations are among his list of delighted clients. In addition to many event design awards throughout the years, King’s thought-provoking, informative, and entertaining speaking engagements and seminars have earned him respect on the speaker’s circuit throughout the meetings and special events industry. Contact King at King Dahl Linked In, King Dahl Facebook, MGM Resorts Events Facebook


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