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Sarmistha Tarafder's Articles

Exhibit Design- A Trip to the Never Never Land


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"I like to think that one day after I die, at least one small particle of me - of all the particles that will spread everywhere - will float all the way to Neverland, and be part of a flower or something like that... I like to think that nothing's final, and that everyone gets to be together even when it looks like they don't, that it all works out even when all the evidence seems to say something else, that you and I are always young in the woods, and that I'll see you sometime again, even if it's not with any kind of eyes I know of or understand. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the way things go after all - that all things end happy." ― Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily

Whether all things end happy or not, we tend to spin a life of fiction that gives us the safety to explore the unconscious experience of life free from the tensions that govern our social trappings.

As a kid growing up, some of my happy "go to" companions were the characters shaped by Lewis Carroll and J. M Barrie. They offered me the freedom of fantasy in a world that anything was possible. A world where I got to design and re-design my own dreams in a space that was not bound by time because, frankly time simply did not exist. You see, Einstein's Theory of Relativity is after all, not that complicated. "Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”

As this is true for me, this is also true for you. Perhaps you had stumbled upon a reality of a different kind. You went on a trip to the desert planet of Tatooine. There, you fought against the Tusken Raiders and Krayt dragons. You helped the Jawas build fortresses and and learned from them the the survival skills of the arid climate. Or, perhaps, you were special advisor to Queen Amidala, on a mission to find a peaceful end to a large-scale inter planetary trade dispute.
Whatever it was, I have no doubt that each of us have our place carved out in our own "Neverland."

So What? What is the Point to all this?

If I have managed to hold your attention this far, I believe you are getting to formulate the dots that I am about to connect here. So, stay with me and let's see how this magic plays out. Ah!!! Magic. That is why we do what we do. Isn't it?

"A society which thinks...that it has outlived the need for magic, is either mistaken in that opinion, or else it is a dying society, perishing for lack of interest in its own maintenance." R.G. Collingworth (qtd. In Irwin 3)

THE NEED FOR MAGIC AND FANTASY IN YOUR EXHIBIT DESIGN SPACE

In our digital world of diminishing attention span and decreasing sensitivity to emotional cues a trip to the Neverland might be the answer to get over this cultural anxiety that we face in our strive to connect with people.

By creating an environment, unlike our own, fantasy fosters an opportunity that cannot be found outside your exhibiting space. Just as Wendy's stories lead Peter to her window and they enter into the world filled with fairy dust, mermaids and crawling pirates – your exhibit design can be a fantastic vehicle for presenting your products and services in a brand new light. Because, fantasy offers you and your audience to escape the confines of everyday reality and look back on the world, free from the rules and assumptions that drives the usual business environment. Perhaps in your exhibiting space the attendees enter the Neverland with “astonishing splashes of color here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors.” All these forces stirs the imagination, and not only inspires the desire to get to know your brand better, but enriches the previously established desire because a subconscious connection is made to the fantasy of the childhood years. This is true for the attendees and for the booth staffers.

In preparing for this article, I was reading Tolkein's essay, "On Fairy Stories." He elaborates that Fantasy creates a renewed sense of wonder in the real world. He says, “We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red." Our sub-conscious is a playground of symbolic and imaginary structures vying for dominance. It is in a state of highly "structured chaos. It is claimed, that by presenting that which is unexpected, it sure violates the real world logic but falls within the laws of fantastic reality and hence alters our reality with a sense of rejuvenation, wonder and familiarity.

Just as Neverland is not an active thriving world without Peter Pan, likewise your brand cannot and does not achieve memorability with out the underlying imagination of the one who perceives it. In an age when attention is the primary currency, your brand is the bridge between the Real/Symbolic World and the Imaginary. Attending trade shows and events provides you with that opportunity. It gives you and your audience to exist in the gap created by these two realms and for a moment or two the concept of something beyond the arbitrary nature of reality can be reality itself. a reality, where your brand achieves consequential significance in the minds of your audience.

Creating Fantastical experience is specially true when you are competing with the digital buyers and internet sellers. Ample research shows that we make our decisions "emotionally (and, to varying degrees, unconsciously), and then let our rational processes justify that decision with facts." Taking advantage of your venue, you are activating the experiential sequence of the right brain function thus gaining attention and interest. Now, all you have to do is back up with facts and figures. Now, you have won their trust.

© 2015 by Sarmistha Tarafder