Creating events and experiences with nature in mind

2 mins

How can nature enhance your events and experiences?

Shifting from the delivery of knowledge to helping people connect in a more intimate way.

Nature of Space, by Janet Sperstad and Amanda Cecil, powered by Marriott International, examines how planners can look at their event experiences differently. 

Take inspiration from nature-based solutions and connect your attendees with the natural world. Nature of Space is full of practical tips to help you ‘remake the way you make’. Putting human health and performance at the very heart of our events.

We’re sharing five top tips for designing your experiences with nature in mind. You can download the full research paper for free now.

1. Focus on wellbeing at your events

Consider how you could introduce initiatives and interventions that put people at the center of decisions. For venues, this could be a redesign of event spaces to include more light, vastly improved thermal comfort, better food choices and more attention to acoustics. For planners, think about designing event spaces that are filled with more greenery, stress reducing enclaves, with hydration stations everywhere!

Wellbeing and connection at IMEX

2. Lighting can enhance engagement

Lighting is a powerful tool for enhancing attendee engagement, improving cognitive performance and fostering trust. It can be used in different ways throughout your event space to influence the behavior of attendees.

For instance, you could use lighting to create moments of focused attention. A pin spotlight or up-lighting will draw attention to key areas on the show floor and/or on the main stage. At entrances to the show floor and large general session rooms, use diffused lighting and create shadows by installing a canopy or pergola to decrease stress and chaos.

3. Bring the outdoors in

In the absence of outdoor venues, there are other ways you can bring nature inside. For example, placing live, air-purifying plants in high-traffic areas. Schedule program breaks outdoors or in areas with low-profile windows that don’t block light nor view. Incorporating wood, oxidized metal, or stone in the event design can immediately connect the space to nature.

Nature of Space - plants growing

4. Using height to foster psychological safety

Humans have a psychological need to be at the highest point for the best view, this gives us a feeling of calm and an understanding of the unknown before we come down and enter on ground level.

Consider using gradual raised seating such as in an amphitheater or stadium seating for large sessions to ignite the senses and need for a feeling of safety. Install a raised terrace inside the entrance to a show floor as a viewing area or elevated food and beverage seating area.

5. Using all the senses in event design

Smell is our most primal sense. Breathing in a forest’s natural aromatherapy provides a boost to our immune system and frame of mind. You could replicate this by placing artificial trees with essential oils from pine trees or cedar shavings by registration, entrances and throughout show floors to decrease stress and increase a positive mood. Studies have shown when people walk where there are trees, they remember 20% more (Li, 2008).

Encores immersive experience at IMEX Frankfurt
Encore's immersive experience at IMEX Frankfurt

By adding art to event space walls, installing live art activations and playing music in common spaces, you can help create moments of wonder and awe. Alternatively, you could sound mask common spaces with natural sounds. Piping unobtrusive, natural sounds into meeting spaces can enhance an individuals’ cognitive function and increase overall satisfaction (DeLoach, Carter, & Braasch, 2015; Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008).

Nature of Space is full of practical tips and exciting concepts to help you design successful events

About the author

Charley Murfitt is IMEX's Content Producer. She is a proud advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and the circular economy.

Charley Murfitt

Content Producer