If you know why I think graphic designers should care about NYCxDESIGN, then you can safely assume the design week exhibition that graphic design studio RoAndCo staged at Sight Unseen’s OFFSITE this past weekend was a much-needed answer to my prayers.
Typically, design week booths are held by product designers with something (a physical object) to sell; it’s not usually the outlet of choice for designers to simply exhibit their work. But that’s not to say the humble rented booth can’t, or shouldn’t, be used in more imaginative ways. At OFFSITE, architecture group The Principals thought outside the booth with their engrossing “Dynamic Sanctuary” installation (scroll to the bottom), and in years past they staged a boozy dominoes tournament at New York men’s shop Billy Reid as opposed to a more straightforward temporary storefront space from which to sell their chic set of dominoes directly to the public.
Clearly, RoAndCo also knows the value of creating an engaging experience for design week visitors. Instead of plastering blown-up images from their portfolio, an impressive body of work that ranges from packaging, web, and identity design to art direction and rebranding projects for a roster of fashion and lifestyle clients, founder Roanne Adams and her team decided to play up their collaborative side by partnering with a few unexpected folks to create one of the most striking, attention-grabbing spaces at OFFSITE. There was a newsprint broadsheet to read, a “photo booth” to play with, funky chairs to hang out in, and more, thanks to:
- Brendan Timmins, who creates “semi-functional objects that blur the distinction between design and sculpture,” made the angular lighting and the marble-effect chair.
- PaperChase Press printed the set of notecards; you can order a blank set or get a pack specially printed with your name.
- Flavor Paper, makers of crazy-awesome wallpaper, turned RoAndCo’s pretty pastel graphic into giant sheets to cover the booth walls.
- Olivia Sammons, a prop stylist who launched Wherewithall interior design with her husband, Jamie Grey of Matter, did the booth design.
Looking to create a space of your own for an upcoming show? Here’s what we learned from RoAndCo:
1. Be collaborative: this isn’t just a good excuse to flex your design muscles and work on a fun project with a designer or company you might not typically do business with, but it’s also an excellent way to show potential clients that you can go broad and think beyond your preexisting portfolio.
2. Be interactive: unless you cut your teeth as a booth babe, it can be tough to get visitors to wander into your space of their own free will. Creating an activity (RoAndCo made a cut-out for people to pose in for photos) gives people something to do besides stand around awkwardly while you run through your pitch.
3. Sell something: people love a souvenir. RoAndCo sold its set of notecards for an affordable $25—no preorders necessary (above).
4. Give something away for free: people like a free souvenir even better. A postcard or attractive newsprint broadsheet goes a long way—like all the way back to peoples’ homes, where it will live (for a time, anyway) as a reminder of the great experience they had with your brand.
Up next for RoAndCo, stay tuned for the Sight Unseen website redesign (launching any day now), and in the meantime you can check out some of the studio’s recent work on Moda Operandi’s site redesign and Loeffler Randall’s SS15 campaign (below).