Role: Experience Designer
On the road to end homelessness, Crisis approached SapientRazorfish to generate ideas to ask politicians to commit to sign up to a 20-year plan that lives through government changes. To talk about homelessness, Crisis organises an annual conference where politicians, media, volunteers, and homeless get together to discuss different topics. Our ideas needed to cause an impact in this event that was strong enough to convince them to sign up to a 20-year plan to end homelessness.
I worked on this project during the idea generation phase, a 1-week long process. During this time I developed 3 different ideas as well as variations of one of them.
Taking into account the requirements of the brief - to get politicians to commit to a 20-year plan - I focused my ideas around the intention to generate an emotional connection with the homeless. It is well known that the most powerful emotional connections are provoked through the interaction of multiple senses, so I set myself up to create a multimodal experience.
Additionally, I wanted my ideas to achieve a feeling of unity in the people who were experiencing them. After all, the foundation of the plan is that, to end homelessness, everyone needs to be looking in the same direction and be committed to the plan.
I prepared 3 different ideas to solve the problem.
Based on the fact that we don’t understand what homeless people live through until we live it by ourselves, I proposed we decorate the conference room as a place where a homeless person would have to spend the night regularly: an abandoned building. In the conference room, the tables would be upside down, there’d be rubbish everywhere, bricks on top of the chairs, fence wire hanging from the ceiling where people would have to crouch to be able to enter the room. As the conference progresses and the attendees get involved in the discussions and commit to the plan the room starts looking better and better. The rubbish starts disappearing and the tables are turned around, seamlessly.
The main objective with this idea is to show how, when everyone works together towards the same goal, homelessness can be put to an end.
Ending homelessness requires everyone to work on the same plan with the same strategy, regardless of their political party, gender, status… In this installation, the only way visitors can see the image on the wall is by, literally, standing together. We start with a video projection on the wall, fractured in small pieces. With only one person in the room, the image is pure abstract. As more and more people enter the room, the image improves until it can be seen perfectly.
A small variation of this is to create the division in the image physically. We would set up the image in multiple layers ensuring that it can only be seen as a whole when standing in the right place. This also gives the possibility of using the space between the panels to reinforce the idea that ending homelessness depends on everyone.
There is a lot of power in putting your face forward to show support for a specific cause. During the event we would ask politicians to have a picture taken and printed and to write on it what it is they’re committing to do to end homelessness. They would then put their picture on the wall with all the other pictures. At the end of the event the wall will be turned around to reveal a picture formed by people’s photographs, showing how each and everyone of them is a key part of the bigger picture.
In this project, I participated in generating ideas. I made a point, however, in presenting my ideas in an unconventional way (at least in the agency). I believe there’s a lot of power in physical presentations as they act as enablers of different types of conversations. I decided to stay away from presenting in slides and this had a great impact on the work, the project, ans the team.
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