Dome, Sweet Dome

The reviews, posts and tweets about Learning Without Frontiers 2012  (or LWF12 as it has become better known) that have already started appearing are, as one would expect, all busily documenting and commenting on what various speakers at LWF had to say. So of course I’ve decided to be different. Indeed I’ll admit that this year I didn’t go primarily to listen to the speakers – and in fact I would have heard more of them had I just stayed at home and watched the free on-line stream.

So why did I go? Well partly for the ‘networking’ and catching up with old friends opportunities, but mainly to see the inflatable domes and, would you believe, the signage system?  It makes a change for an organisation to invest in the design of the conference environment, and, for me anyway, it made a real difference.

Up on the balcony of Olympia’s National Hall, the main conference area was surrounded by an encampment of what were called ‘pop-up’ domes, pods and salons – futuristic inflatable structures – to house trade shows and locations for breakout presentations by various organisations. At long last, the Space Age we were promised in the 1960 and 70’s seems finally to arrived – well at LWF anyway!

During my visit I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Carla Turchini of Turchini Design who had created the conference programmes and the signage system for the event – that all-important necessity that ensures you end up in the right place at the right time – or not as in the case of many conferences I’ve attended. She told me…..

‘For LWF12 the brief was to design and produce very large wall panels to welcome, inform and direct the visitors to, about and through the Conference and the Festival events. The white inflatable domes and pods would be lit only by coloured lighting so we decided to merge the big wall panels into the surrounding darkness by using black as the background colour, allowing the big bright orange or white lettering to come through the darkness. A subtle dark grey outline representation of a dome on the black background, visually linked the wall panels to the futuristic structures in view beyond. Meanwhile all timetable signs outside each pod, dome or the main conference theatre were designed for maximum legibility with a white background and alternating light grey and white rows.’

The event may or may not prove to determine the Future of Learning, but it certainly showed the way ahead for 21st Century conferences!

And if you do want to learn more about what was said in the main conference, here are some good places to start: