From the Design Quarterly: How do designers use narrative as a tool?
July 16, 2018
July 16, 2018
Ask an expert: The art of storytelling practiced in built projects ranging from America’s most popular attractions to China’s historic fortresses
Storytelling is an important tool in design. Nowhere is this more evident than the world of themed entertainment in which storytelling is foregrounded in the user experience. We checked in with members of our design team in Orlando, Florida, (Daryl LeBlanc and Greg Meyer) to talk about the art of storytelling as practiced in built projects ranging from America’s most popular attractions to China’s historic fortresses.
Greg: Design is a symphony of images that are experienced in time and space. The narrative is the script that ties the images together.
Daryl: In our world, storytelling has everything to do with the design of compelling and memorable experiences. The story establishes the framework for how we make design decisions. Everything is filtered through the lens of the story—how does each component relate to or enrich the perspective?
Daryl: We make extensive use of quick sketches, illustrations, renderings, storyboards, experience mapping techniques, even character narratives. Lately, we have also been developing animated videos with narration that help our clients understand and visualize the intent.
Design is a symphony of images, experienced in time and space. The story narrative weaves image, context, culture, and history to deliver an enriched human experience.
Daryl: Yes, it does. We have done this with varying levels of detail, from elaborate stories explaining the full range of the guest experience to more summarized statements about goals with appropriate messages.
Daryl: With experience and lots of vetting, we can feel confident in matching the story to the project goals and objectives.
Greg: The need for authentic elements can vary depending on the project. Creating an authentic sense of place for a bay front park experience is different from creating a themed attraction experience. Staying true to the storyline is important to the design process and the guest experience and the level of authenticity will vary with project types.
Greg: We did a project for a client in China who was developing a guest experience and tourist destination at the Great Wall of China in Badaling. Understanding the role this portion of the Great Wall played in China’s history was extremely important. The historical narrative that supports the experience was surprising to us and, we hear, to many Chinese visitors.
Storytelling can bring history or cherished characters to life. The possibilities are limitless.