Google I/O Conference Keeps Attendees ‘In Wonder’
To the casual observer, Google’s I/O developer conference might have looked more like Burning Man than a business event. And that was by design. In an effort to invigorate the eight-year-old conference and engage the developer community in a less traditional but more meaningful way, Google moved I/O from the confines of the Moscone Center to a sprawling 10-acre outdoor campus called the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The move enabled the event team to use a variety of structures to create a vibrant festival environment, while using the design of each tent, dome and content area to reinforce the technologies being demoed inside.
One of Google’s goals was to “keep attendees looking up, around and out in wonder.” And keep them looking up, they did. Forty-foot custom façades covered breakout structures, geodesic domes acted as dynamic projection surfaces and 36-foot-tall stacked shipping containers served as way-finding elements and lighting rigs. An outdoor product showcase called The Sandbox featured 18 different product groups housed in unique tent structures while smaller pop-up content activations were strategically placed around breakout sessions. And for the first time in its history, I/O’s keynote was presented outside in an amphitheater, a move that ultimately boosted keynote attendance by 25 percent over the previous year. (To boot, this year’s conference was the largest I/O ever.)
The sensory experiences that festivals are known for were further brought to life through the use of natural plywoods, woven fabrics, unique shade structures and custom street murals. Colored smoke and bubbles, food and beer trucks, stilt walkers, impromptu dance parties and Burning Man art cars added that kick of quirkiness the brand was looking for, and that modern attendees—even at, (or perhaps, especially at), b-to-b events—crave.