What is performing.design?

At NYC Service Design Jam 2018, a conversation started between co-organizer Tim Gilligan and volunteer Brad Orego. Tim & Brad shared a passion for design, but also a unique backstory: both have experience in performing arts (Tim in theater, Brad in dance).

The immediate kinship launched into a second conversation, this time over coffee on a fateful Friday morning in Manhattan. Tim challenged Brad to find ways to more fully integrate his two lives of dance and design (which is a callback to a similar challenge Emily Freeman offered in October), and the conversation took them down the path that brings us here today.

What can Design learn from the world of Performing Arts?

As artists, there are all sorts of things we do to prepare ourselves for the stage. We practice technique in class. We rehearse the performance. We hang lights and design light plots. We practice spacing on stage. We gather an audience. We put on makeup and costumes. We make an entrance.

As designers, what do we do to prepare ourselves? What are the techniques we train? What are the rituals we perform to put ourselves in the right frame of mind? What are they for your day to day versus a sprint planning meeting? How does that compare to a design review? To a user testing session?

This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but here’re some of the things Performing.Design will discuss:

  • Non-intellectual processes to separate the ego from the role you’re playing.
  • The role of ritual, rehearsal, technique work in Design.
  • Embodied Cognition, and how it relates to Design.
  • How do we help designers rehearse so they can perform at their peak?
  • The importance of technique work. What is technique in design?
  • How do you prepare an environment for a performance?
  • What can we learn from improvisational play?
  • What is the proscenium in the design world? What happens when you break the 4th wall?
  • Who is your audience? What defines a “good audience”?
  • Theatre art vs. public art, and what it means for design.
  • How social commentary plays into dance, design.
  • Art for art’s sake; Design for design’s sake.

It’s our hope that we can bring some insight and inspiration to the community by using our unique backgrounds and our passion for design. Who knows where this will take us (including possibly nowhere).

Follow along for ride here or at http://performing.design (which currently redirects to Medium, but that’s likely changing soon).