Design Forward: Target Takes On TED2017

April 27, 2017 - Article reads in
a Target + TED image appears in black on a piece of natural-hued wood.

The world’s best dreamers, doers and thinkers converge in Vancouver this week for TED’s highly-anticipated (and sold out) annual conference. And we’ve got a coveted ticket: Target’s the official design partner of TED2017. We’re beyond excited—it’s a chance to connect with fellow lovers of design and innovation and to stand as thought leaders alongside some of the best brains in the world. So we dreamed up some incredible experiences that TED attendees won’t soon forget. A Bullseye View has a peek at the fun.
A sign on brown craft paper asks "How do you feel about the future" and iPads sit below.Ideas and inspiration are endless at TED. In a five day-span, 90+ speakers and performers take the stage to explore this year’s theme, “The Future You.” Heavy-weights like tech entrepreneur/guru Elon Musk (famous for his work on space travel, self-driving cars and more) and robotics genius Marc Raibert (who builds some of the world’s most advanced robots and made quite an impression on TED attendees with his robotic dog) tackle big questions—and imagine how we can all collectively thrive in this world of change. Even Pope Francis surprised (and wowed) attendees with his recorded message of connected-ness: “We all need each other.” All the magic happens in a series of 18-minute-or-less, back-to-back TED Talks.

Whew! We’re exhausted just typing this… and we know TED attendees need a break to recharge their minds (and their mobile phones). So our first charge as design partner-in-chief? Create a space to help attendees relax, connect and reflect on the conference’s theme.

Not-so-common commons
A benefit of TED partnership—we had the opportunity to think big and share our own interpretation of the “Future of You” theme as we designed the Target Commons space. Target’s take? “We believe ‘The Future You’ isn’t a person. It’s a place,” says Todd Waterbury, Target's chief creative officer. “A place reached by the bridges built from the most resilient materials: Our shared needs, ideas and dreams.” So every element of the space, from the materials used to create it to the built-in reactive lighting display evokes a bridge between the individual and the greater community.

Attendees sit beneath modern lighting, an elaborate structure of corrugated tubes and glue/green lights.

But we didn’t stop with the gorgeously designed space. To make sure everyone who visits Target Commons has a chance to connect with each other and the broader community, we enlisted MoMA artist and TED speaker Giorgia Lupi to create a cool, personalized art experience.

Interactive art
Giorgia and her team are experts in revealing the beautiful, human side of data. They start by asking attendees a few simple, yet evocative, questions, then sketch a unique set of shapes, colors and symbols to represent each person’s views and personality. The portraits, turned into wearable buttons, are meant to spark conversation and connection throughout the conference. Watch Giorgia at work.

Giorgia sketches on an iPad.A close-up of Girogia's finished buttons, unique to each attendee.Another big idea? Continue to harness the power of connection by creating a distinctive experience for the TED design community.

TED + Target design dinner
Tuesday evening we orchestrated a progressive dinner especially for the design community. Todd Waterbury and Caroline Baumann, Director of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, co-hosted the evening set against an unexpected, beautiful backdrop—16,000 eggs. Often referred to as nature’s perfect design, the egg symbolizes potential for the future—a fitting theme for an evening of thought-provoking conversation and connection.

Todd Waterbury speaks into a microphone, surrounded by a beautiful display of white eggs.Back at home…
Meanwhile, back at Target HQ, our team’s enjoying one more TED partner perk—simulcasts of the talks, straight from Vancouver! It’s just one of the many ways we bring new perspectives and inspiration to our team.

Want to soak up the learning and discovery from TED2017 yourself? Keep an eye on to check out some of the week’s talks.

Header, “Question for you” and interactive art images by Marla Aufmuth/TED.

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