Setting the Stage at CES


Is it possible to out shine Vegas?

Lenovo made a huge splash at CES with great new ThinkPads, IdeaPads, and award winning paradigm shifting products that turned heads. The IdeaPad U1 and SkyLight smartbook are wonderful examples where Lenovo invented new computing categories. But this wasn't just a Lenovo technology prowess show, our design innovation was everywhere.  Making such an impression at CES, however, is more than just announcing super products. The design of the venue, in our case the Aquaknox restaurant, was a critical component of setting the stage. Lenovo literally transformed the place into a product exhibition space/nightclub. We wanted to create a lasting and positive impression for everyone who attended. The design of our event was led by Rebecca Welles from our corporate identity team. It was demanding work for her and the others who chipped in, but it paid off with an event to remember. One of goals we established early in the project was to avoid the urge to "out-Vegas"  Vegas . There is just no point in throwing more flashing lights, spinning plates, fake gold leaf, dangling tinsel and glitzo patterns at the problem. Such an approach would only blend into the existing Vegas environment. We wanted to attract attention. The idea we chose was to design dramatic monolithic forms bathed in pure white to contrast the visual explosion around us. Colors would be minimal and restricted to the brand palettes. The architectural monoliths would stand above the crowd and draw attention to the featured products we wanted to showcase. We also created brand specific zones for more intimate demonstrations and hands-on use.

Bubble chair for conjuring up the next big idea

For the Idea products zone ,we used all white classic modernist furniture to suggest a futuristic home setting. Maybe everyone doesn't own a bubble chair, but I bet they secretly wish they did. They look like they're right off the set of a vintage James Bond film. Even the Corbusier lounge chair looked right at home in white leather. The space was accessorized with stark white objects such as chunks of coral, rhino sculptures, and an occasional, although somewhat disturbing, all white slice of pizza. It was hard to pry people out of the comfy white chairs. Wooden stumps served as end tables and conversation pieces.


Nice place to sit and think while at CES 

ThinkLand was all business, but rich and sophisticated in design. Smoked mirrors etched with the brand signature, regal red carpet, and modernist seating that reminds me of a giant TrackPoint cap adorned the environment . A few people said the chairs reminded them of molars, too funny. The red dots on the signatures illuminated in a show of respect for the Vegas heritage.  The products themselves were showcased on glowing white pedestals. An animated video wall showcased many of the design and technology features ThinkPad enjoys. It really looked impressive, and so "on brand".


"Thing" from the Addams Family bought a Skylight?

The handheld products such as Skylight and the Lenovo smartphone were displayed using pure white 3D hands that were molded from real people's extremities. Very interesting process with great end result. There seemed to be a strange magnetic attraction to them. By the end of the event, they had all mysteriously disappeared. How do you suppose they smuggled them out of the venue? I would love to know what people are going to do with them.


Scale paper model of the design concept

The design was conceived using pencil sketches, scale paper models, detailed computer renderings, and traditional sample boards. The scale model turned out to be very useful in visualizing the space and planning final graphic and product placement.The final renderings are very similar to the actual built space. Computers are wonderful tools for this sort of thing. Sadly,the days of magic marker renderings are all but over.


Can you tell which one is real?

Lenovo Blogger Nights CES 2010 - 56

The crowd loved it!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the thinking that went into creating an event like this. Few people understand the magnitude of effort that goes into creating such a creative, but temporary, space. It was hard work, but also fun. 

David Hill