Hackathon Sprint or Immersive Discovery? Brewing Heritage Trail project helps answer the ‘Best Speed for Creativity.’
DESIGN STORY BY STEVE RAMOS
My pitch, well, my story really, begins with the wrap of a large-scale project.
For the past ten months, colleagues Ryan Cayabyab, Sean C. Davis and Jason Snell and I have been diving deep into Cincinnati’s historic brewery cellars in support of an interactive marketing project for the cultural, non-profit Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp.
With help from valued collaborators, engineering and design firm WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and architecture and design firm FRCH Design Worldwide, our Brewing Heritage Trail (BHT) Digital team has worked on app development, design and digital activations including an Augmented Reality video and 360-degree photography in support of a digital cultural trail celebrating Cincinnati’s Brewing heritage throughout the historic, Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Basically, our digital work supports core concepts of community, connectivity and interactivity to distinguish the Brewing Heritage Trail from better known attractions like Napa Valley wine trails and Kentucky’s bourbon trail. Our work is about making immersive storytelling tools affordable, attainable and available to a small, non-profit client.
With the project close out complete, I look back on the past ten months of building, designing, implementing and testing the BHT assets, the numerous client meetings, multiple interviews with their internal writer, deep research on best practices and long discovery in order to co-create an interactive story in support of their cultural business, their trail, their tourism services as well as themselves.
The deep research and long interviews support the creative bridge that links my earlier journalism career and long-form writing experience to my present-day strategy work.
A schedule of ten months feels appropriate for an immersive storytelling project involving an app, digital activations and a website. Yet, now at its wrap, with data measurements flowing into place and business processes under review, I question if the project would have been truer to the client’s resources with a rapid pace and a tighter schedule.
Both sides agree on the high-quality results of the work. However, I’m now convinced that the Brewery District did not have the time or the resources for a ten-month project and periods of deep discovery.
I remember sharing a case study of artist Cai Guo-Qiang and his ‘Sky Ladder’ aerial fireworks installations. That’s the strategy I wanted them to approve for the project’s Augmented Reality video; something short and powerful like fireworks.
It’s worth noting that the client insisted on breadth and length for the digital activations.
Our digital team also remained committed to a multi-month revision process and testing schedule that kept us sprinting to the close out date.
Now, with paperwork signed and work officially completed, I wonder if the project would have been more successful for both client and contractors if revisions could have been briefer, testing shorter and schedules tighter.
Instead of months of research and discovery, perhaps our project model should have embraced Studio Cai and the Spirit of Fireworks.
We live, work and create in the era of the Tinder-like swipe, arguably one of the most popular forms of everyday sprinting.
In work, especially with projects of complexity, depth and scale, it’s the concept of fireworks that provide inspiration for the Best Speed of Creativity.
The Brewing Heritage Trail app is available in the App Store and Google Play.