The AIGA BoNE Show (Best of New England [Design]) is a design competition for New England, hosted biennially by AIGA Boston. I was asked to be director of the 2011 show—after doing a decent job of designing the exhibit for the 2009 show—and when I said “yes” without even thinking about it, I found myself responsible for its call-for-entries, judging, meet-the-judges event, awards show, exhibition, website, catalogue…you know, every little thing involved with a design competition.
It was also the very last thing I did before I left Boston for DC…back in June. Yeah, it’s been a while.
First I had to find a theme…. I worked with George Restrepo to brainstorm a half dozen promising directions. The eventual winner—”Wicked Problems/Wicked Solutions”—was born while myself, George, and a couple other AIGA volunteers on the BoNE committee were discussing the concept of wicked problems and how design is essential to problem solving. Keeping tongue in cheek, I also liked that if people didn’t exactly understand our intent for the theme, it could also be interpreted as “wicked” in the New England sense.
The call-for-entries (above), designed by Kristen Coogan, featured a playful Rube Goldberg-esque problem-solving machine. The visual identity was carried through the rest of the competition and awards show’s graphic pieces, including the website (below), designed by Justin Hattingh, with online entry system put together by Jeremy Perkins—all-around make-everything-on-the-internet-work guy.
I also tried to keep all of the associated events aligned to the theme; for example, at the meet-the-judges event the three judges each gave a presentation related to “wicked problems.”
All event and exhibition photos by Ben Gebo, with thanks.
For the exhibition, we continued to play with the problem solving theme. Katelyn Mayfield designed a component-based display system: individual displays could be arranged in any configuration to take advantage of our huge gallery space on Boston University’s campus. The displays could then be packed flat and shipped to other venues when the BoNE Show “went on the road” after its run in Boston.
Here is that huge gallery space, full of awards show guests:
All the exhibit displays were in the front third of the gallery, arranged in a maze-like way to give people the sense they were discovering each winning design project. Each display was custom-designed for the design project it would hold and hand-built from corrugated plastic sheets and PVC pipes. Windows and shelves were built by cutting and folding the plastic sheets, by Katelyn and a crack team of awesome volunteers, including BU’s student AIGA group. Some photos of the exhibit displays:
And some details… Designers’ names were laser cut from thick illustration board and the edges of shelves were finished with cyan-colored tape.
Below, left: I commissioned furniture designer Seth Wiseman of ConForm Lab to design and build two sets of “tangram benches” which could be moved into endless configurations—a human-sized three-dimensional tangram game. The benches were sold during the event auction and the money benefited AIGA Boston. Seth also designed and built the tangram stage, which is in a couple of photos below.
Below, right: For the media-based winning entries, we created a simple kiosk with a great interface designed by Joe Morris.
Above, left: The silent auction table. We also had a live auction for the big-ticket items. Go big or go home… Jason Stevens was my sponsors man, along with Kathleen Byrnes. Because the point of this entire production was to raise money for the non-profit AIGA, we tried to get everything for free, or at least on the cheap, and were very thankful for all of our generous sponsors.
Above: The (ahem, award-winning) awards show catalogue designed by George Restrepo and printed and bound by ACME Bookbinding, and the keepsake entry ticket designed by Ira Cummings and printed and foil stamped by EM Letterpress.
Below: The awards show! AIGA Boston chapter president Matthew Bacon served as Master of Ceremonies.
Above left: BoNE Show volunteers hand out bone trophies, cast in aluminum (or bronze for the Judges’ Choice winners). Those things are for real—they weigh a ton and all winners’ names were punched by hand (by Bridget Sandison, who also—along with Juliana Press and Meghann Hickson—took care of receiving and sorting and tracking all the competition entries).
Above right: Me and Tracy Swyst, AIGA Boston’s VP of operation, who has overseen many many many BoNE Shows. Other people I’d like to thank: the rest of the AIGA Boston board: Heather, Jodi, Colleen, Brandon, Jillfrancis, Diane, Chiranit, Lee, Mat, Jason R, and Sarah, and the boards from AIGA Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and NH/VT, and everyone else who lent a hand in any way.
It was a really great experience. I was so glad when it was over. :)
A compilation of exhibit design-related web finds
I only have eyes
+ Everyone’s been raving about Doug Aitken’s SONG 1 at the Hirshhorn…because it’s awesome. I’ve visited twice; and would—will—visit at least once more before it closes on May 13. My grainy snapshots don’t do this any justice—you have to experience it in person.
+ If you’ve missed the hubbub, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking is April 15. Dozens of exhibits about the ship and sinking are opening, including the biggest of them all, in Belfast
+ Also: Fire & Ice at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, everywhere; Titanic at the South Street Seaport Museum in NY
+ The Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s Building America traveling exhibit—in a traveling train car, naturally. The entire museum opens in Iowa in a month.
+ Part 1 in a series of articles describing exhibit design, from Mark Walhimer at museumplanner.org: exhibit planning
+ Blueprint, a guidebook to build your own history museum in the 21st century, from The Museum of the Future
I’d rather not include too many posts about now-closed exhibits that I saw ages ago, but in the case of Talk to Me at the MoMA, the online exhibit is itself worth exploring. I also liked the pixel illustrations on the introduction (the photo above) and the punchy red walls and reader rail (the photos below).
Silver, Salt, and Sunlight is an exhibit of rare early British and French photography. Really lovely and worthwhile; see it at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through August.
Changing Earth at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is about land, air, and water, and how these have changed and continue to change on our planet. There’s a lot happening in this exhibit and it was sometimes overstimulating, but overall it was nicely designed, interesting and informative, with clear “take-home” messages and memorable interactive experiences.
The designers (Adirondack Studios in upstate NY) used environmentally-sensitive materials throughout the exhibit. This description from the museum’s website gives an overview: Flooring is made from recycled content and post-consumer waste products. All wood is Forest Stewardship Council certified or bamboo; the metal is recyclable; paint is low-VOC, and graphics are printed on recycled material using water-based inks.
I visited this exhibit about a year ago, not too long after it opened (and wrote this post about another exhibit that had opened at the same time). Details are a little hazy I’m afraid, but here are some photographic memories. And if you want to check it/them out in person both exhibits are still on view.
The centerpoint of the exhibit was a giant satellite-Earth dome (photo above). Inside was an introductory film.
I love two-tone dimensional letters…
Above, right: An example of the direct-to-substrate printing used throughout the exhibit.
Text was super-short and to the point, making for more memorable key messages.
The exhibit was full of interactives and touchable displays.”Jump here” was an earthquake simulator.
You thought I had forgotten about you. I’m sorry.
My “temporary” hiatus went longer than expected. That perfect “bam! I’m back!” post topic never appeared. I was quiet too long, and this blog situation got to be rather awkward.
Let’s forget about all that and pick up where we left off, shall we? I have a backlog of exhibit design goodness to share with you. Yes that’s right…bam! I’m back!