The communication goal for this internal brand gathering was to engage and encourage managers and owners to think differently about their roles within the company as it moves away from a focus on real estate to a vision of the collection of Starwood lifestyle brands. The role of the environmental graphic designers was to immerse them in the brand-centric vision, excite, and surprise them with multi-sensory experiences as they mingled in a large lobby space.
A series of concepts related to the conference mission allowed for visual evolution over the four-day event schedule. Since the budget prohibited high-tech solutions, the designers looked at low-tech materials to enhance the human touch part of the project mission.
On Day One, a full-length banner, eight feet above the floor, welcomed every attendee with his or her name in bold type. For Day Two, scaffolding was covered with large colorful image blocks of hotel staff doing their work, having fun, and being part of the extended family. On Day Three, attendees received a marker and a strip of colored linen that corresponded to their hotel's brand. Later, they were asked to write a commitment on the cloth and drop it off on their way out. The strips were tied onto the curtain wall to create a symbolic wishing tree.
On the last day, banners were hung high and perpendicular to the existing graphics to create an esplanade beneath. The banners presented a series of inspirational quotations.
After the event, the large banner was cut in half and donated to a local farmer to cover hay. Banners and the curtain wall went to the corporate headquarters for display.
"This design team satisfied the tagline premise with simplicity, surprise, and charm. A conference environmental décor package is rarely memorable or engaging. The success here was in the economical way the design elements morphed to communicate with the daily program theme and capture the attendees' imaginations. It was apparent that the designers understood how to connect their ideas with the audience. What's more, this project recycled and reused by donating the main banner to agricultural use and sending the smaller banner to the corporate headquarters. Well conceived and successful on every level."
Ann Harakawa (Principal in Charge), Brian Sisco, Laura Varrachi, Dominic Borgia, Julie Park, Beom Kim, Corey Mintz, Katarina Kojic, Greg Costello (Creative at Starwood)