The world is filled with locations of marvel. A few of them are bodily locations; others are locations of the creativeness. The School Of Extraordinary Experiences is each. Every year, the Czocha Citadel in Poland (an actual 13th century citadel), turns into a most uncommon and peculiar school, very similar to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. Solely this one is actual — and it’s not for teenagers. As a way to attempt to convey the character and the spirit of such a one-of-a-kind place, permit me to offer a little bit of framing and context.
Welcome to the Expertise Financial system
In 1998, consultants and authors B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore revealed an article within the Harvard Enterprise Evaluation, introducing the time period “Expertise Financial system” for the primary time. The next yr, the authors expanded their concepts right into a profitable and extensively influential e-book of the identical title. Thus the Expertise Financial system was formally born, and the phrase “expertise” gained new which means within the enterprise world.
Broadly retracing the historical past of financial system, Pine and Gilmore recognized 4 major developmental levels of “financial providing.” This development goes from early human societies, primarily involved with “Commodities,” to the Industrial Revolution and large-scale manufacturing of shopper “Items,” adopted by a steadily growing demand for “Providers,” and eventually, within the current day, the newest type of financial providing: “Experiences.” Amply corroborated prior to now 20 years, the ebook’s thesis is that in a world saturated with largely undifferentiated items and providers, the best alternative for worth creation (and income progress) lies in staging experiences. Corporations stage an expertise every time they interact clients in a private approach, hopefully creating long-lasting reminiscences, with the promise and ambition to make lives extra enjoyable and thrilling, or just higher.
Offspring of the Expertise Financial system is the broad subject referred to as “Buyer Expertise Administration,” with its many virtuous examples and sensible practices, in addition to a variety of goofy and vapid interpretations of the idea. Sorting the sign from the crap, the phrase “expertise” is now an integral a part of the company lexicon, and all issues “experiential” are massive enterprise.
Into this milieu enters Nathan Shedroff and his breakthrough work Expertise Design. Revealed in 2009, the ebook addresses the concept experiences might be deliberately designed to realize particular results and desired outcomes. Introducing this new self-discipline, Shedroff’s pioneering aim was to determine standards and methods to successfully design experiences for patrons, shoppers, customers and viewers. As Shedroff himself wrote:
The design of experiences isn’t any newer than the popularity of experiences. As a self-discipline, although, Expertise Design continues to be considerably in its infancy. Concurrently having no historical past (since it’s a self-discipline solely lately outlined), and the longest historical past (since it’s the end result of many, historic disciplines), Expertise Design has develop into newly acknowledged and named. Nevertheless, it’s actually the mixture of many earlier disciplines; however by no means earlier than have these disciplines been so interrelated, nor have the chances for integrating them into entire options been so nice. Expertise Design as a self-discipline can also be so new that its very definition is in flux. Many see it solely as a area for digital media, whereas others view it in broad-brush phrases that embody conventional, established, and different such numerous disciplines as theater, graphic design, storytelling, exhibit design, theme-park design, on-line design, recreation design, inside design, structure, and so forth. The record is lengthy sufficient that the area it describes has not been formally outlined.
Now, virtually a decade later, “Expertise Design” is undeniably a factor, woven into our on a regular basis life. The principles of the sport should be in flux, nevertheless it has grown right into a multifaceted and hyper-dimensional area of inquiry, acknowledged and established inside academia, with devoted analysis departments, professors, and PhD candidates.
The School of Extraordinary Experiences (COEE)
Among the many wide selection of human experiences, “the expertise of the extraordinary” is definitely a most fascinating one, with deep, archetypal roots within the domains of faith, mythology and the numinous. Its timeless attract and intrigue has implications for any trendy expertise designer, whose formidable objective is to faucet into the nicely of the extraordinary to retrieve fragments of magnificence and enchantment. Being myself professionally devoted to designing “magical experiences,” my time on the School was really mind-blowing. I’ve by no means seen something prefer it; discovering a spot devoted totally to Extraordinary Experiences was a pure delight.
COEE is at minimal three issues: a School, an Extraordinary Expertise, and a Group.
First, it’s a full-fledged School: a spot for larger schooling and mental discourse, providing hands-on, real-world crash programs on Expertise Design. Following three guiding rules — Speedy Prototyping, Co-Creation, and Versatile Focus — this intense five-day occasion has the flavour of an “unconference.” There are a couple of loosely structured actions, because the core of this system is a co-created and co-designed immersive studying area. Info, concepts and practices move amongst members by means of facilitated group discussions, thought-provoking workshops (the place PowerPoint shows are adamantly banned), and impromptu conversations. One needs all studying was as satisfying, and all enjoyment as profound.
Second, like a nested Russian matryoshka doll, COEE is itself an Extraordinay Expertise, self-reflectively specializing in Extraordinary Experiences. It’s like Hogwarts meets Disneyland, completely spiced with Burning Man ethos and costuming. For 5 intense days and nights, you reside in an actual medieval fort, nestled in beautiful pure environment of breathtaking magnificence. Spectacular issues occur on this uncommon, immersive surroundings, stimulated by a parade of colourful and wild actions, and playful mind-bending occasions. You’re shortly suggested to return to phrases with the FOMO syndrome: there’s a lot happening, you’ll be able to’t get to, and even see, all of it. You’ll by no means know when and the place the subsequent factor will occur. No matter is in retailer for you, nevertheless, will definitely deserve the time period “extraordinary.”
Third, it’s a worldwide group of follow. The short-term inhabitants of the Czocha Fort are a heterogeneous mixture of practitioners, researchers and students, from totally different industries and backgrounds. Individuals embrace positive artists, escape room designers, musicians, school professors, occasion planners, immersive theater actors, skilled pranksters, film producers, theme-park specialists, skilled facilitators, C-level executives, and entrepreneurs. The proportion of super-smart, artistic, profitable individuals is embarrassingly excessive. The connections cast at COEE grow to be a group, one that gives its wide-ranging artistic prowess to tasks and concepts past the occasion itself. Since its inception, COEE has assembled a strong following with a glowing community of alumni, together with all of the graduates from the earlier gatherings.
After which there’s “the key sauce” that holds all the things collectively, making COEE the distinctive and beautiful expertise it’s. To keep away from pointless spoilers — and being sworn to secrecy — all that may be stated is, “What occurs on the School stays on the School.” And that’s that.
COEE is a large-scale immersive recreation, a posh thriller field, an ongoing treasure hunt the place the prizes are sustained and large doses of marvel, information and which means. Studying how one can navigate this Escher-like setting, discovering your means via hidden passages to secret rooms, discovering what it’s all about, is a part of the deal. The School is a spot of mental sophistication, emotional thrills, and simply rattling enjoyable. The top result’s indisputably a category-defying transformative expertise — on knowledgeable in addition to a private degree.
COEE is the crown-jewel manufacturing and brainchild of Claus Raasted, Paul Bulencea, and Philipp Jacobius — the pulsating powerhouse behind Dziobak Larp Studios. Based mostly in Copenhagen and working worldwide, DLS is a design collective dedicated to all types of immersive occasions: from stay motion role-playing to alternate actuality video games. Claus, Paul and Philipp, with their uncanny expertise as mild Dungeon Masters and galvanizing group leaders, have formed COEE into what it’s immediately: an astonishing, dwelling, respiration “social sculpture.”
Feels like a unprecedented place to expertise, doesn’t it? Nicely, it’s. Do you are feeling you belong there? Would you wish to play? In case you say the magic phrases, the fort gates might open for you.
Knock right here: [email protected] Simply so you recognize, the ready listing for 2019 is at present open. Spots are restricted. Personally, I’m SO returning subsequent yr. Fuck yeah!
Photographs: John-Paul Bichard
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