Oh, that word. On the whole, I can't stand euphemisms, neologisms, or made-up business jargon. In most cases, they're used by people who have nothing to say but who want to keep on saying it. That goes double for the weird, hybrid words you hear in my line of work, like “prosumer” (to denote a magazine read by professionals and consumers alike) or “architainment.” The latter can't really be translated into English; it sounds like a merger of architecture and entertainment, and what it's really getting at is what people used to call theming, before that industry started to go south.
Anyway, architainment, as far as I can tell, has to do with architecture applied to leisure-time activities such as shopping, dining, and other amusements. It's the architecture of pleasure-seeking; we live in a society where, literally, everything has become entertainment. (Today, there are banks that are flashier than theme park attractions I knew of 30 years ago). As a result, stores, restaurants, even churches, have taken on a look thatpreviously you would have associated only with theme parks, or theatres.
These developments have many implications for LDs who work in the architectural arena. The techniques you learned in school and on the job — indirect lighting, discreetly placed fixtures, restrained, if any, use of color — aren't much help in the new world of architainment. Now the vogue is for color, patterns, moving beams-even the use of fog machines to create dramatic events. Many times, the lights are hooked up, via show control, to sound and projection systems. It's all about drama, theatricality, making a big splash. At the same time, you need the skills of an architectural LD. You have to be able to think long-term, work well with architects, consider the total effect of the project. It's a fascinating challenge.
This issue is largely devoted to architainment projects. There is no more eclectic resume than Paul Gregory's and Ellen Lampert-Gréaux has assembled a roundup of his newest projects — including a restaurant, a mall, a showroom, and a kicky traveling exhibit for Muzak. Herrick Goldman, who designed the Centennial of Flight project, works frequently in the theatre, and that experience is reflected in his architectural work. Clayton Alexander's work on the Mattel booth at the Licensing International show takes a similar approach. And Steve Welsh's discussion of the growing role of the specifier is rooted in his experience on theatre buildings, but he is addressing issues that will become increasingly important to LDs working in the architainment world.
So there you are — we're stuck with the word. But, when you consider the opportunities it offers today's LDs, maybe that's not such a bad thing after all.