Stage Design: Starting from Scratch

stage design week

Stage Design: Starting form Scratch

Where do you start coming up with a stage design concept?

You’ve got your story, you know where you want to end up, but how do you get there? How do you translate the story you’re telling into a visual canvas that will take people on the journey with you?

Gather Ideas

This is probably the easiest part of the stage design process…if you have two things.

1 – An idea of where to look for ideas.

2 – A filtration/curation process.

Anyone can google stage design and get some results. But it’s going to be an overwhelming process. (179 million hits for Stage Design in a simple google search.) Easy, right? The Internet is both an amazing tool and a pit of frustration and rabbit trails. You have to narrow down your results to those that are relevant to what you’re looking at actually doing.

I like a few sites to gather ideas, inspiration, and honestly to just see what others are doing. I don’t recommend just finding a cool look and regurgitating it for your event, but be inspired by what others have done and use their ideas to begin to craft your next experience.

  1. Pinterest – way more than the latest in recipes, fashion trends, and funny cartoons, Pinterest has opened up a world of idea gathering, reviews, and tutorials on quite literally everything. Search for Stage Design in Pinterest and you’ll feel overwhelmed, but add a key word or two like church, rustic, or DIY and you’ll start to find ideas that fit your mold.
  2. Instagram – another social network that allows you to search for hashtags. Find others who are creating great experiences and follow them on Instagram. Connecting with people will allow you to learn more, gain influence, and grow in your craft.
  3. Read Blogs – we read blogs all the time to see what is going on in the industry, what’s new, what’s been done, and who is using what new pieces of technology or technology in new ways. Look into sites like Live Design Online, CSDI, and TedX Talks. I like TedX Talks because there’s a consistent theme that is being used hundreds of different ways. It’s fun to see how different the designs can be while keeping a consistent element.
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Planning is Everything

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

We could stop right there. That hits at the heart of everything. We live in a 24/7 world that just doesn’t stop. There’s no time for planning, preparation, research, creating diagrams, measuring, reviewing, measuring again. But, if you don’t make the time to plan a priority, you will fall flat.

As much as you have to budget finances, you have to budget time, energy, and resources into your stage designs. I’ve seen countless productions spend exorbitant amounts of money to fix mistakes that could have been avoided by simple planning. Use a google calendar, iCal, Evernote, Wunderlist, or any of the countless other tools to stay organized and on top of your designs.

Planning will help you get ahead. When you go into the pitch meeting for your next stage design based on a new tour, event, or sermon series, make sure you know the answers to the questions you’re going to be asked. More than simply cost. What materials are needed? Does anything require fire-proofing? Will there be rigging involved or will you encounter weight issues? Do the set pieces fit through the doors to get in the space or will they need to be assembled in the room?

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Visuals are incredibly helpful.Use a program like Sketchup to put your idea in a to scale format. You’ll be able to see issues, manipulate your designs, and make things better.

Ask yourself lots of questions. It’s really worth the time.

Execute Your Design

You have thoroughly prepared for the setup. The design has been wrung threw the ringer with hundreds of questions, details, and notes to ensure everything will work. All that’s left is to execute the design.

Document the process. If you can, setup a time lapse so you can see the magnitude of the event and review how it went. Take pics during setup, show, and strike. You might use the set again later or parts of it and you’ll want to be able to see what you did accurately.

Enjoy the moment. Soak up the experience. You’ve transformed a space with a killer design to create an unforgettable experience. Be a part of that experience.

Stage Design isn’t just throwing cool decor on stage. It’s crafting, curating, challenging, and innovating a space into something amazing. Stage Design – transform space to transform environments.

What’s your latest stage design, challenge, or question? We’re on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and would love to chat through ideas.

Tim Southwick

Author Tim Southwick

Tim is the Brand Manager for TripleWide Media. He has 10 years experience in the event management world and has a strong desire to see visuals and media used to increase the user experience.

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