Platform is a non-profit organization with the important mission to increase the interest and participation of underrepresented groups in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on African-Americans, Latinos, and women. In October 2014, the second annual Platform Summit was held on the grounds of Morehouse College, the famous black men’s liberal arts college in Atlanta.
Pentagram Partner Eddie Opara and team were tasked with designing the collateral, wayfinding, and digital experience for the summit and teamed up with Molly Heintz of Superscript to devise and develop the overall strategy. Building on the previous year’s graphic program, the designers developed a new interior and exterior wayfinding system for the event.
With strict limitations on modifying the interior of the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, the designers used a series of freestanding cylinders and floating inflatables throughout the building. Inflatable spheres with large arrows affixed to 4-foot cylinders displayed directional graphics, maps, and legends in Platform’s distinctive black and white colorway. The wayfinding system was extended to two 8-foot-high wayfinding cylinders at the two major entry points of the building, and a cluster of 6- and 10-foot inflatable spheres printed with Platform messaging served as a focal point between the center’s conference hall and lounge. The highlight of the outdoor graphics was a massive 30-foot blimp that hovered above the campus grounds.
An additional element of this year’s summit was an innovative design for responsive visualizations on the conference stage. Platform organizers wanted a concept that would heighten the focus on the stage, so the designers conceived two massive LED walls to display live visualizations of the speakers. A custom-built computer application transmitted the live video from an HD camera to the LED screens, creating responsive, dynamic graphics of the speakers in real-time. The visuals were less fluid during the group presentations, so a programmatic treatment of each of the speakers’ faces was created, built out in particles that diverged from the center of the image.
The 2014 Platform Summit was a massive success, with its attendance tripling the 2013 conference held at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass. Based on this success, the 2015 Summit will again be held at Morehouse College.
“A great example of a strong identity that plays out very effectively across a wide range of scales and materials. Love the use of inflatables for a short-term event. It manages to make balloons look incredibly sophisticated.”
“The use of oversized inflatables, linked in shape and typography to temporary event signage, creates a sense of place, as well as a strong event identity. Within the strict confines of the existing institutional interiors, the designers were able to extend the event exterior identity through interior wayfinding and event information. The event aesthetic was carried on-stage with responsive, dynamic graphics that transformed speakers’ faces and gestures. A good example of non-intrusive intervention to create a comprehensive event experience.”
“This project builds a highly sophisticated bridge between relevance and aesthetics. Sidestepping all visual cliches that might be associated with a conference for underrepresented groups in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship, it establishes a holistic design approach that generates its uniqueness through visual boldness, yet formal constraint. Special kudos for an innovative use of real-time and low-resolution dynamic media, which add visual intrigue to the speakers on stage.”
“Well presented event branding with refreshing graphic abstractions of digital content that enhance the focus of the event.”
Eddie Opara (partner in charge and designer), Ken Deegan (designer), Pedro Mendes (designer), Carrie Brody (project coordinator)
Robert Hodgin (computational code for live graphics), Bit Studio (stage visualization developers), Molly Heintz (strategy)
Kamhi Kolor (signage and wayfinding fabrication), Special Projects, Inc. (stage fabrication), Balloons Over Atlanta (inflatables installation)