Design Director, Exhibit Designer, 3D Designer, Experience Marketing, GPJ, George P Johnson, Hill & Partners, Hill and Partners
Senior Exhibit Designer
I conceptualize and design Branded Environments.
John's a Big Aviation Fan
One of my many favorite memories of H&P was an event we put on for a client at Mt Washington. It was fall and was absolutely beautiful to be up there, as well as being able to take the Cog Railway up the mountain.
Being part of a group that’s energized and comes from many different backgrounds is what makes our team fun and take on any challenge that’s presented.
I had really wanted to be a firefighter or be part of the emergency field.
I create scale models of aircraft and have since I was a little kid. It combines my love for aviation (obsessed is the correct word here) and building. It allows me to escape from the stresses of the day.
Definitely would have to say flying.
Working to put together the Optos Event at the Boston Science Museum.
Spielo and GTECH are always fun to design as they are about creating a large dramatic overhead that forms an impressive environment.
My new thing is antiquing with my fiancé and finding cool objects that we can incorporate into our wedding.
The ultimate inspiration for me is perfection of what I’m designing. In the end it’s standing back when something is built knowing that I had a big part in bringing a client’s vision to reality.
For me, the best thing to do is step away for a while and clear my mind. Ideas and Solutions always come easier when you can stand back and look at it with a fresh mind.
The initial conceptual stage. This is where I normally will shred out a multitude of design ideas and see which ones stick.
Posted by John Grogan on Jul 21, 2015 8:30:00 AM
Minnesota's Bemidji State University is one of the few institutes of higher education to foster and promote the specialized area of exhibit design. Twenty years ago, the Bemidji design program saw a need to teach students the fundamentals of applying deeply creative minds to the technical aspects of exhibit space and trade show functionality, paving the way for talented youth to excel in conceptualizing purposeful design into any space or place.
Recently, Bemidji's Department of Technology, Art and Design hosted a series of TAD Talks presented by 11 industry experts from throughout the country. One of those experts was our very own Senior Exhibit Designer, John Grogan.
Over the last year I have had the opportunity to mentor a student from one of the two universities that offer exhibit design as a major. Through this mentoring opportunity I was invited to participate in the TAD talk presentations at Bemidji State University. TAD Talks, focusing solely on the areas of Technology, Art and Design, are similar to the format of the better-known TED Talks where experts share compelling insights and ideas on various topics in a set amount of time.
I gave a talk entitled “Dance of Design & Technology.” My intention was to emphasize that technology isn’t just about putting content on the biggest digital screen or using the "coolest" lighting within a space. Designers can strategically leverage various forms of technology to tell an effective story or to help create an engaging and immersive customer experience.
Beyond the creativity of the design itself, it’s also important for students to comprehend the flow and function of a project. Understanding where challenges may lie and how to approach them will help create an effective solution.
Simply put, knowing the tools we have at our disposal will ultimately allow us, as exhibit designers, to be both efficient with our process and to push the limits of our designs further.
Personally, as a big enthusiast of the exhibit world, it was such a great opportunity to see students displaying this same level of excitement about pursuing a path in exhibit design. The passion and the commitment of the students to their work and the school was admirable. The commitment that the teachers make to the school and to the students was also something to be truly noted. If it wasn’t for the drive and experience of people such as Sachel Josefson and other influential professors, the TAD Talk presentations never would have came to be.
The exhibit industry has a lot to be excited about. For me, the fluidity and unpredictability of this field is what makes it so interesting. Each client, brand, and project scope is different from the last, presenting new challenges to creatively approach.
Problem-solving is the mission of any design business, but I believe even moreso in the exhibition industry. It is here that we are able to fully use our talents to help achieve client objectives while creating unique architectural spaces and brand experiences for attendees.
I always tell the students that the greatest thrill that they will get for being a designer is when a client chooses the exhibit or space that they designed. It’s such a gratifying feeling to be able to walk into a physical space that you put so much passion into designing, knowing that your vision was chosen amongst the competition.
Designing for the exhibit industry is a very niche field, utilizing a multitude of different skills amongst diverse types of projects. We must use these skills to create memorable interactive experiences through deliberate architectural choices and strategic representations of a defined brand.
Due to the complexity of our field, and with so few educational tracks specifically focused on exhibit design, I believe it is imperative to support these programs and mentorship opportunities. A great designer will always be looking around for outside influences as stimulous for growth and learning.
Students that take these opportunities to continue gaining insight and knowledge from a variety of sources will be at an advantage in the journey to not only becoming professional exhibit designers, but also developing into influential individuals in the world of design.