Patterns of Transformation

Designing Sex, Death, and Survival in the 21st Century v 1.0

by Ida C. Benedetto
Ida at the Green-wood crematory in Brooklyn, New York. Unpublished Businessweek photo by Daniel Shea.
Ida at the Green-wood crematory in Brooklyn, New York.
Unpublished Businessweek photo by Daniel Shea.
What makes an experience life changing?
Can transformational gatherings be designed?

It Doesn't Take a Spell

We have all been to a gathering, a ritual, or an adventure that felt unrewarding or downright upsetting to be a part of. Then there are those experiences that we are absolutely over the moon for, experiences that remind us of who we are and why we are. Those experiences feel like magic, but it doesn’t take a spell to make them happen.

Seasoned experience designers, self-identified or not, tend to employ similar strategies, especially when it comes to opening people up to risk in a caring way. They share no common language for what they do, but there are clear patterns to what makes an intimate social experience transformational.

My search for the patterns of transformation started with a stark example of what happens when these moments desperately need design but have none.