Statement of Purpose
I’d love to start by saying how excited I am for this Experience Design program – it seems all too fortuitous that this opportunity has opened up at the same time that I decided to leave my job and redefine my career path. Up until last December, I worked as an account manager in a successful and rapidly growing advertising and design agency in Boulder. I was offered the job right out of school beginning as an intern and quickly climbed the ladder receiving multiple promotions ending up as an account manager. For four years I loved every second of it, and I was good at it too. I built successful relationships with dozens of clients, and loved working alongside our multi-talented design team, but most of all I loved being a part of the creative process and seeing ideas come to life through research, strategy, obstacles, and inspiration.
My undergraduate speaks to this love and made the career choice seem like a no-brainer. I double majored receiving degrees in business marketing and studio art, and the Technology, Art, and Media (TAM) minor as my cherry on top. With a marketing and art education, advertising and graphic design was the next obvious step for me. I felt like I was putting both sides of my brain to work, something that I’ve discovered as crucial for my wellbeing. I like flexing my creative muscles but I also appreciate a structured environment with an end goal in sight. When I left the agency, it was because I felt that my creative side was slowly becoming more and more abandoned as my role and responsibility focused more on client and project management. I was involved in more emails and phone calls than strategy reviews, critiques, and mood boards. I’m hoping that with this program I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned thus far and realign my personal goals with my career to get back to the creative balance I shine best in. I want to dive back into the conceptual process that breathes life into a design.
Perhaps what has always fueled my creative side is a fascination of storytelling and the overwhelming feeling of being completely enveloped by a strategic environment and experience. That “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moment, or for me hearing “Welcome to Main Street U.S.A.” once I pass through the gate into Disneyland. I know it’s not real magic, no wizard conjured up the idea, but the result is all the same. Walt Disney may as well have been a wizard. And that’s why I’m interested in experience design. I’ve experienced first hand, year after year, consistent, expertly managed, magic. Although Disneyland is perhaps a very extreme example of experience design, it is definitely the example that has actively engaged me to think about the work and thought behind it all, and to see how much can be accomplished through intentionally shaping and conceptualizing an all-encompassing experience.
Clearly, I’m a card carrying Disney fanatic, but as I’ve grown up visiting the parks my love and appreciation has matured. As a child, the focus is on the characters, the parades, fireworks, and churros but as I’ve grown up my interest has been peaked by the elements that really make the whole thing come together: the smells, the music, the attentiveness of cast members, the pristine lack of trash, the facades and architecture, the use of lighting, the fake rocks, etc. And to me, nothing sounds more fun and engaging than to build a career off of this type of work. Working to conceptualize these details that come together to engage a viewer or visitor and tell a story whether it’s an extravagant New York department store window at Christmastime, a flash flood reenactment exhibit in an aquarium, a mid-century themed tiki bar, or a technologically advanced parade through Disneyland sounds rewarding, challenging, extremely fun, and meaningful.
My understanding of experience design is that it’s all around us, and perhaps deeply underutilized. As someone familiar with the marketing and branding side of things, it’s exciting to think about how brands and companies could use experience design as another way to create meaningful connections with users and potential customers. This is especially important as social media and lifestyle brands shape how millennials are consuming content – unlike any other consumer group, millienials depend more on authenticity, aspirational inclination, and heritage.
To communicate these elements to the audience, there’s a need for brands to perfect and project their storytelling in an engaging way such as experience design. Intentionally designed experiences can shape how people interact with certain places/products/ideas/brands and foster a meaningful interaction that resonates and creates a lasting impression. I think what remains as the most important element of experience design is that it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel forced or coerced, but is genuine and offers a unique takeaway.
All of the above drives what I believe as my personal philosophy of design. I believe that in terms of daily communication, design is often overlooked and is considered superfluous or over the top. Form can follow function, but that shouldn’t result in a design forfeit. Rather, the function lays groundwork for form and within the confinements lies a solution that’s beautiful, functional, and desired. Something else that resonates with me is Mies van der Rohe’s sentiment of “God is in the details”. While Disneyland is not quite in the same architectural vein as van der Rohe’s minimal modernist “less is more” aesthetic (arguably Disneyland is quite the opposite), you can agree that the details are what bring the place to life and what Walt knew was a necessity in his creation. All of this leads me to believe that Walt had it figured it out when it came to design. His vision was all encompassing and focused on every detail of a visitor’s experience. Once you step on the Disneyland grounds (and even the process leading up to that point), visitors are fully immersed in the experience. I believe that the thoughtfulness behind context and immersion lead to successful design, and therefore to a meaningful and genuine experience.
I look forward to pursing and exploring these concepts further with the Experience Design program and paving the way as the inaugural Class of 2019!
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