17 February 2011 // Thoughts

16 Stages of Project Development – The JRA Design Philosophy

The JRA Design Philosophy

You’ve gotten your land, your building permits and your funding.  Now it’s time to craft your attraction or museum’s story.  Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

JRA moves continually between the worlds of entertainment, museums, and corporate communications. From that diverse body of work, our design philosophy has emerged. It is simply this. JRA regards design as a very specialized form of communicating messages to an audience. We cannot separate design from writing, for all of our work begins with a story. So, our ultimate goal is satisfying an audience by conveying the appropriate information in an informative and memorable way.

This design philosophy can be distilled into a few core precepts:

  1. Design is storytelling and the story is the star. Exhibiting is theater.
  2. Guests are an audience. Design for the audience, not for the designer.
  3. People relate best to other people, so make it personal. Emotion can cleanse the intellectual palette and facilitate learning. Touch hearts in order to engage minds.
  4. Audiences like being challenged to think, participate and choose.
  5. Involvement is better than observation. Promote shared experiences.
  6. No writing, planning or drawing until you get the story and facts right.
  7. Oblige all the ways in which people learn. Provide information at several levels and in various ways.
  8. There is no substitute for real things, artifacts and first-person perspectives.
  9. Theatrical techniques/technologies can heighten the appreciation of real things by creating context and involving the audience.
  10. Guest experiences should have a rhythm that alternates moments of immediacy and interaction with moments of reflection and reverence.
  11. Simple is better than complex. Good designs are accessible, lucid and inclusive.
  12. All of the senses are involved in perception and memory; design for more than just the eye.
  13. Take heed of operational and maintenance realities. Utilize proven technologies and processes. Accommodate change.
  14. Approach each project with a fresh perspective.

In our next post, these core precepts and philosophy will guide us into Stage 6, Master Planning and Programming, when your dream will begin to take shape both in writing and design.