Written by: Sasha Bailyn Saturday, January 8th, 2011 .
With a laundry list of prestigious clients, a USA Pavilion visited by over 7 million at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, and its founder’s recent induction to the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attraction’s Hall of Fame last month, it’s impossible to deny BRC Imagination Arts’ success.
Entertainmentdesigner.com had a chance to sit down with Christian Lachel, Vice President, and Tisa Poe, Vice President of Entertainment & Brand Experiences, to discuss what makes their company tick. We got to take an all-access tour of BRC’s impressive facilities – and even took a ride in a space shuttle. One thing we came away with: This firm isn’t afraid to do things a little differently. Sketch paper lines the walls for creative brainstorming and the art throughout the studio is culled from film, technology and all areas of design.
Can you bring us through a day at BRC?
There is really no typical day because things are always changing here. It’s like one big mental puzzle.
Since what happens in the studio is not always the same as what happens in the field, you have to be ready to make unexpected changes.
Which designers, architects, or engineers inspire you?
Everyday people inspire us. When we do a project, our goal is to leave each person slightly changed, and what better way to accomplish that than to observe real people? It’s our “A to A prime” philosophy.
Because we can’t depend completely on words, we’re also inspired by visual elements. Filmmakers like Andrew Stanton, writer and director of Pixar’s Finding Nemo and WALL-E, and artists like Syd Mead, a visual futurist who designed science-fiction films Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron provide creative stimulus, and designers like Apple’s Jonathan Ive and French product designer Philippe Starck help give shape to BRC’s big ideas. We also look to architect Bill McDonough for his work in sustainable design. Of course, we are thoroughly inspired by BRC founder Bob Rogers.
What is a recent achievement in entertainment design that you hold up as an example of great work?
We’re incredibly proud of our recent work at the Shanghai World Expo 2010; these international exhibitions are an opportunity to showcase not only our design work but the American values of collaboration, innovation, and determination as well. We have been involved in more than 16 pavilions at six World Expos since 1986, and our work with the USA Pavilion last year is our greatest success to date. It was viewed by over 7 million people over the course of the exhibition, about 42,000 daily, and positively influenced visitors’ perception of America and American corporations.
What was your favorite project that you worked on at BRC?
Probably the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL. BRC collaborated with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the State of Illinois to open this landmark museum in 2005.
We believe it captivates visitors with its state-of-the-art showmanship and paints a complete portrait of Abraham Lincoln with impeccable focus on his career, family and presidency.
What is the structure of BRC like – what departments exist, for instance? Are projects done in small teams?
We start with a small team and as we develop the project, the team also grows. We rely on the project manager and the creative director to manage any given project, and they will add new members to the team based on their expertise and abilities. We believe that consensus determines the tone of a given project, so our group dynamic is very important.
When executing projects, does BRC do everything from soup to nuts – concepting, storyboarding, engineering and building?
From the very first idea to story master planning, all the way through production, installation and technical training, BRC is dedicated to its projects.
Can you describe BRC in three words?
Creative, Innovative, Emotional.
Which future projects – only the ones you are allowed to talk about, of course – excite you?
We are working with the China Aerospace Group to create a theme park and visitors’ center designed to be both educational and entertaining. We’re also creating a regional experience plan with Germany, and excited to learn everything about the nation and their cultural heritage.
What impact does entertainment design have on the world?
Entertainment design makes people happy, and inspires them to realize the best that things can be.