Thursday, 27 January 2011

St Martins Narrative Environments

I've been helping out on the St Martins' Creative Practice for Narrative Environments MA course.

The project I've been involved with is run in collaboration with LDJ, who are the UK's leader in commercial Christmas displays - they create pretty much all the big shopping center Christmas experiences from Westfield London to Liverpool One.

LDJ have a fascinating business - imagine the logistics of all your projects (well over 100) going live and finishing at the same time and the creative challenge of doing something different within the well defined confines of what people expect at Christmas. Sounds tough doesn't it!

The students, working in teams, have been tasked with creating designs for Christmas experiences at a number of locations, the solutions they've come up with have been marvelous. Perhaps it helps that a large number of the students are from countries that don't celebrate Christmas because they have come at the project from really interesting angles, cleverly reinterpreting yuletide traditions for the spaces and audiences they've been set.

The course teaches them to define a 'key drama' which is a great way of phrasing the idea that sits at the heart of an experience (the advertising practice of defining a 'proposition' never really works for experiential campaigns).

The narratives that the students deliver are as likely to be sound or smell based as they are to be more conventional experiences and they have great ideas for presenting their work. Of course there are endless spelling mistakes and a fairly robust disregard for budget parameters but it is great to know that there are students coming through who are so talented and well taught in narrative design.

All in all I've really enjoyed my visits to St Martins, not least experiencing the great old building in Holborn, papered in flyers for life drawing classes and scattered with abandoned student sculptures, before the art school moves to its flash new home in King's Cross.