Euphoric Community

Workspaces are about the experience of not only what you do, but how you do it.

Founder and CEO of Euphoria Music Festival, Mitch Morales, explains his event’s success:

“Euphoria does not just toss some music on a stage, turn on some lasers, and let you camp for a few days. We take careful steps to make sure we are creating a community, which fans will want to come back to year after year... It’s a difference you don’t just see, but feel.”

A recent study by Eventbrite found that over 75% of millennials and 59% of baby boomers say they value experiences over possessions.

We can see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, and taste it more and more each day. Experiences are being designed, commoditized, and measured. Experiences are changing the way we live.

One example will be on display all summer—music festivals.

Music festivals of all genres has been a pastime since the Middle Ages. In 1969, the most famous—Woodstock—drew 500,000 rock music fans to a farm in upstate New York. Yet today, from Milwaukee to Rio, and Vienna to Newport, music festivals have never been more popular.

I’m on the Board of Directors for Washington’s DC JazzFest, one of the fastest growing jazz festivals in the world. Despite countless competing attractions in the nation’s capital, the DC JazzFest is becoming an iconic summer event.

Shameless promotion alert: DC JazzFest tickets are on sale now! You’ll thank me later.

One of the DC Jazzfest venues is The Kennedy Center, which, with its new REACH expansion, is fully embracing the idea of providing an engaging experience to the community:

The REACH is a living theater where diverse art forms collide to break down the boundaries between audience and art. It is an immersive learning center, a public incubator, and a set of dynamic, collaborative spaces where art happens so close audiences can reach out and touch it.

Envisioned as a complement to, and extension of, the Kennedy Center’s mission, the REACH is an open stage for differing ideas and divergent cultures, delivering on a vision for what a 21st century arts center should be—inclusive, accessible, and interactive.

An article published by The Washington Post describes the experiential impact:

“The Kennedy Center’s expansion will offer opportunities for artists and visitors to gather and feel part of the creative process. Visitors can curate their own experiences and expand what’s possible at the Kennedy Center: taking a creative workshop, watching artists rehearse, or enjoying a world-class performance outdoors.”

Alan S. Brown, “Making Sense of Audience Engagement” co-author said,

“That’s what we’re excited about...[The Kennedy Center addition] carefully translates the grandeur of the 20th century into a more active, personal space for the 21st century.”

Space Matters Mashore Perspective

My pal, and noted design consultant, Sven Govaars suggests that using “experience” as a driver is not entirely new; it has long been an important design factor in the planning of resorts, hotels, restaurants, casinos, and even hospitals. “We know that where you are affects how you feel, what you think, and how you behave.”

What about the everyday workplace? When was the last time you felt inspired by where, when, and how you worked? How might the magic word—experience—affect and enrich the environments where we work?

Advancements in artificial intelligence and virtual reality are accelerating at unprecedented rates, propelling us into an era of new possibilities for entertainment. In a single minute, we like 4.4 million Facebook posts; we watch 7.9 million YouTube videos; we spend $142,000 on Amazon; and we send 128.2 million emails.

Similarly, “work” has been transformed by technology into a thing you do, rather than a place you go. In the workspace, people, place, and technology have never been more interconnected.

Emerging smart sensor technologies allow workplaces to learn and evolve, driven not only by the work we do, but how we do it. Companies like Boston Consulting Group, for example, have introduced technology that responds and reacts to user-preferred qualities of light, acoustics, and air temperature.

Just as we’ve seen explosive growth of music festivals, workplace design demands more planning, complex programming, and smarter infrastructure. It requires strategic thinking from aspirational to the tactical; from the means to methods.

Mapping the connections between discovery, commitment, and learning in the workspace takes some serious thinking:

  • Who is the user?
  • What information are users consuming?
  • Is the optimal environment physical or virtual?
  • What activities are taking place?
  • What decisions are made?
  • Where are users going next?
  • What other people, places, or things are involved?

People may need opportunities to focus, collaborate, learn, socialize, and perhaps, most importantly, rejuvenate. They also may need opportunities to operate as individuals, groups, and a collective community.

This kind of thoughtful workplace design can empower the workforce with freedom, choice, and encouragement. This kind of thoughtful workplace design can make the workspace home for a more aspirational and inspirational community journey.

Whether on the stage or at the stand-up desk, where you are affects how you feel. Producing the best festivals—and workplaces—requires a holistic understanding of the meaning, purpose, journey, and destination.

Or, as Sven says,

“Your vibe affects your tribe.”

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