Patterns of Transformation

Designing Sex, Death, and Survival in the 21st Century v 1.1

by Ida 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 Unpublished Businessweek photo by Daniel Shea.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Unpublished Businessweek photo by Daniel Shea.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 taken part in a gathering, a ritual, or an adventure that felt unrewarding or downright upsetting to be a part of. Then there are those experiences that take us over the moon, experiences that remind us of who and why we are. They seem to transform us. 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. 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 such moments desperately need design, but have none.