Avocado toast x WCIT 2019
FINDING THE CENTER
A story about our search for new centers for the oldest international IT-conference World Congress on Information Technology which took place on October 6-9, 2019, in Yerevan, Armenia.


EN | RU
This is a cross.
Now pay attention to the frame of your screen.
The cross becomes the center.
The WCIT 2019 theme was decentralization. But the story about it should begin with the center. Because the main power of decentralization is in the skill of creating these centers.
April 11, input
Kristina Kozyreva
Business Development Lead at Avocado Toast
Hello, everyone! Here are the next steps on the Yerevan project. I am working right now in as much detail as possible on the Scope of Work for the project + the additional activities in the city. I suggest tomorrow morning we have a call to discuss the creative part in particular: how we integrate the event in the city, what story we need to tell.

Vadim Vinogorov
Managing Partner at Avocado Toast
I put together the slides on the ideas from the notes I took during the trip. Tomorrow I will work on the main solution for the set up/show and the exhibition.
Denis Astakhov
Founder, Experiential Director at Avocado Toast
I suggest we follow this plan:
— briefing today (Kristina + Vadim)
— first thing tomorrow morning: Google Slides with the structure of the proposal we do. Just like we did Alfabank one, version two (Kristina/Vadim/Victor)
— by Monday we come up with draft ideas

I would ask that a detailed brief is put together: on the project — not on the presentation we have to deliver. The brief should contain all the information on the project and its objectives.
ОК, let's try to do it in detail:
1978
1978
WCIT has been taking place since 1978
This is one of the oldest conferences in IT.
As of today it remains the largest IT event and it attracts top managers from leading companies, heads of universities and scientific centres, state leaders from all over the world.
1978–2018
1978–2018
Over 20 different WCIT conferences
Every two years — in different cities across the world.
Some of the speakers at this global congress are: Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, Paul Otellini, Bill Gates, Vint Cerf, Steve Forbes.
2019
2019
Yerevan is hosting WCIT 2019
HOORAY!
This conference should be remembered not only by the delegates but also the people of Yerevan. Our ideas should fill the inside of the conference space, and also spread around it, reaching the people of Yerevan. We wanted to bring inspiration and stories about what would make this conference so special.
2019, march
2019, march
Speaking of the venue:
Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex
A building of outstanding beauty, a gem of the Soviet architecture from 1983.
Photo by Andrey Vasiliskov | Shutterstock.com
2019, July
2019, July
Teaser
In July it would be great to launch an activity with us driving around Armenia talking about the ideas that will be discussed at WCIT 2019. A truck with projection equipment and a foldable stage for a speaker with a master class or a lecture.
2019, August
2019, August
Educational events
It would be great to do something else in Yerevan. For example, educational courses for children, teach them to do multimedia art.
2019, September
2019, September
Several Interactive Show events before the opening day
We have to come up with interactive events to launch around the city several days before the conference. So that the locals and the delegates of WCIT 2019 would visit them.
6–9 October
6–9 October
WCIT 2019 dates
April 12. What we've got?
Kristina Kozyreva
Business Development Lead at Avocado Toast
I have uploaded to Dropbox all the files, the guidelines from the branding agency, and also uploaded the photos from the visit to the venue. @Vadim Vinogorov, please add yours as well when you have the time.
The visual identity for WCIT 2019 Yerevan was developed by the design team of Maeutica agency.

Detailed materials on how the identity was developed are available if you click on the image below.
Very important visualisation below:
It is the cross that can be considered the key image that creates the center. Mainly this idea appears exactly inside a geometrical structure.
The identity keeps working even if the form gets more complicated. By placing the cross at the center of the scheme, the object found at the place designated by the cross becomes the center.

Rethink the Center
Maeutica accomplished a big and very complicated task. They managed to contain a multi-faceted notion and a lot of meanings into a laconic visual style.
But we had to figure out how to expand this visual style in space and assign stand-alone solutions with the proper, understandable on the international level meanings.

Sasha Mereskin

Creative Project Director

This visual identity has something awesome in stock. It is very simple, laconic and is approaching minimalism.

Of course we understand at once that ✖︎ is not just a cross on a form or an object. This is an ideological center.

But ✖︎, alone is not enough to emphasise a center.

Here you can see an example when this visual identity works.


And here nothing works and an interesting symbol becomes a rather trivial piece of merch.

Even the phrase that is supposed to ideologically complete the meaning, here becomes meaningless.


And this is an example when it works again.

However, it works every time we enclose the cross into a geometrical shape.
But how else can we work with this brand's stylistic solution in an interesting way?
In our initial takes we were looking to integrate a 2D geometrical solution in a 3D space while preserving the brand form.

This means that you can use clean textures and materials of one of the two colors. For example tinted or matted glass as in the examples above.

Or as in the examples below: glass with matted application or mirror.

Antony Gormley's "Blind Light" artwork is used for a reference.
The mirror in the registration counter design proposal suggested another idea:

Geometrical shapes of the brand identity could be used in space. Moreover, we could create brand identity in space with the help of anamorphic illusions that would come together only from one point of view.

And since the venue will have complicated navigation, anamorphic illusions could help us point out specific areas.
With this kind of minimalistic visual identity suggesting large flat spaces, the material of the surface is very important. The texture of the materials, their opacity and lighting — this is the approach we wanted to use, trying to avoid printed banners like the plague.
April, 17. One big thing
Vadim Vinogorov
Managing Partner at Avocado Toast

WIP pictures for stage and show are here

Vadim Vinogorov

Managing Partner at Avocado Toast
To emphasize the idea of decentralization we devised a stage consisting of one big screen and movable LED panels on the floor to be moved around in space depending the action on the screen.
April, 18. The final proposal deadline
Denis Astakhov
Founder, Experiential Director at Avocado Toast
Victor, please write the rationale bases here. You are very good at it.

I was in a hurry here and could have missed something. But the outline of my message should be clear: we need to describe the guest journey map (and include the locals too) from the moment of the app installation to buying the t-shirt with the logo and departing Yerevan.
Victor Lander
Executive Creative Director, Partner at Avocado Toast
I will re-do the text and will show it to you.
It is the same method.
We will have Bob from Canada.
Denis Astakhov
Founder, Experiential Director at Avocado Toast
When writing about a local take some of Kristina's trend-setter friends.

Like, this is Georgy, he lives in Yerevan and is re-discovering his city
Victor Lander
Executive Creative Director, Partner at Avocado Toast
There. I am done. I think it's uploading (or maybe already uploaded).

@Sergey Baryshnikov it's all yours! )

We need to add Bob and Aram in there.
Denis Astakhov
Founder, Experiential Director at Avocado Toast
!!! I have another idea. Let's do a big 3D hashtag on the main city square. Like "I Amsterdam". And it needs to go at the veeeery end of the deck, after the merch. Like 'one more thing': the most valuable thing you take back home — memories of your visit to Yerevan. We amplify it by installing gigantic artistic hashtag at the main square.

If somebody wants to do a mock-up of this hashtag at this late hour — I will buy that person a bottle of wine!
Kristina Kozyreva
Business Development Lead at Avocado Toast
I am here on stand-by, waiting, right?
Sergey Baryshnikov
Communications Manager at Avocado Toast
Don't go anywhere!
Kristina Kozyreva
Business Development Lead at Avocado Toast
Like I have somewhere to go?
Sergey Baryshnikov
Communications Manager at Avocado Toast
I don't know, maybe it is worth buying at least a glass of wine?
Kristina Kozyreva
Business Development Lead at Avocado Toast
even for 2
Victor Lander
Executive Creative Director, Partner at Avocado Toast
Nice!
Kristina Kozyreva
Business Development Lead at Avocado Toast
yeeeeah!
Sergey Baryshnikov
Communications Manager at Avocado Toast
I think, it's finished! Exporting now!
Guys. GUYS
WE WON AND WILL PRODUCE WCIT 2019!!
Denis Astakhov
Founder, Experiential Director at Avocado Toast
Complex
but beautiful

VENUE GUIDE
Personally I love this venue because it is actually an illustration of a center, from the top view. Your attention is always looking for a center. The cross lines are literally squeezing the building, stopping it from expansion. Inside the building there is a cascade and a labyrinth of staircases of different length. There are additional floors, semi-floors and passages where you can get lost. But it all fills up the space inside.

So when you look at the building from atop, it focuses your attention. When you are inside — your attention is dispersed.

And it is much bigger inside than on the outside.
Alexander Mereskin, Creative Project Director
To tell the truth, there probably doesn't exist a person who knows the exact number of stairs and floors identifiable in this building.

The entire building seems to be made of floors, balconies, levels, stairs and so on.
The only vertical layout plan we found is provided above. And honestly it can't tell us a lot. So after scouting we took a ton of photographs and made a layout plan in Figma level by level.
We looked carefully at all the plans of the venue we found, but they were heavy and incomprehensible:
So our first stage of preparatory work was dedicated to making a simple and clear guide for all the project participants, zoning all the functional spaces.
Every page of the plan was an elevation or going down the stairs from the previous page.

Now we had to come up with a structure to make the space work for us from the point of view of navigation. We had to come up with a structure that would be flexible enough to employ the peculiarities of the venue, integrate in the interior design in place and direct the visitors' traffic properly.

Pavel Vabischevich

Art Director
Navigation design was made simple and minimalistic, to complement WCIT 2019 Yerevan identity. Generally, navigation design is divided in two parts: directions and destinations. They feature simple, but easilly distinguishable design traits, which are necessary for wayfinding.
Talking about Directions, we decided to dismantle the elements of the visual identity and find a foundation for the navigation design in there:
The solution was to be found, strangely enough, in the very center.

DIRECTIONS
Directions are clear. Mostly we want to use these navigation signs as stickers on a transparent basis to attach them to the surfaces of walls and stairs. The details are in the gallery below:
✖︎
DESTINATIONS
Destinations are different from Directions for the most part because we need to stop a person, not direct. To make them understand they have reached a destination and this is where the exciting experience of interacting inside the area begins.

Our idea was based on
that very version with the plan from the examples of how to use the visual identity of WCIT 2019 that we drew your attention to earlier.

This is what we came up with:
Different areas are rendered in a different way, depending on their shape or the surface of their location.

At the same time, minimalism and geometry left us with room for increasing readability and recognizability of signs or their context.

Take a look at how the signs for bathrooms can be diversified here:
June, 25. Exhibition
Julia Pushchina
General Producer at Avocado Toast
Guys, the client needs our vision on the stands for partner companies that will be represented in the exhibition area. We need to develop design option that we consider optimal and prepare a brief for contractors.
Let us remind you that the exhibition area looks something like this.
What is important here?

Our general concept is to work with the venue respectfully. And this means that the footage and the shape of the stands is adjusted to the venue. That is why the first (left of the scheme) stands have a complex shape that is integrated in the existing space.


Earlier we proposed a module-based system for the stands, so that the entire stand could be made from functional units. Now we were tasked with developing this idea and making a visualisation on the example of one of the complex ones.
This version is seamlessly derived from one of the previous ones. We are still using different materials to diversify the information carriers. Also we realised we like the relief materials and the scrolling text.

Using such things helps us make the minimalistic visual identity of WCIT 2019 a little bit more dynamic.
July, 1. Decoration experiments
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
I like the scrolling text and the relief wall. Let's use them someplace else and see how it looks.
Pavel Vabischevich
Art Director
OK
We started working with scrolling text at the registration counters. Because registration and badges is where that journey to the theme of decentralization begins for our guests and conference participants (including Bob and Aram).

A simple option with the scrolling text and adaptation of the idea with the anamorphic illusions:

Half of the light box is shown in real life, the other half is a mirror.

Another version — with relief covering. Here we wanted to achieve a smooth transition of color using the temper colors.



Here the main reference was the work of architect Dmitry Ovcharov (Nefa architects) at the Platov airport VIP terminal.

Scrolling text is also found in the version where we use as the basing layer the designs by artist Daniel Rozin and his mechanical mirrors.
Here is more about them
And of course the scrolling text moved to the facade of the building as well — right above the main entrance to the venue. We added LED-columns to the arches of the entrance. So we could add both interactive mechanics and information carriers or emotional WOW-effects if necessary.
We were inspired to use LED-columns by the work called Crystal Aqua Trees by Torafu Architects (Tokyo). The work dates back to 2013 but in the context of our entrance portal this could work spectacularly.
A little bit more on the bas-relief.
Photography by Adam Jones
A large stone panel picture is placed above the entrance to the venue. To be honest, one would not say that ideologically it works for the international IT conference about future and innovations. But on the other hand we promised to pay our respects to the architecture of the building.

That is why our working version was: vacuum film on the bas-relief that follows its design but removes the stone structure and replaces it with gloss and latex.

At the same time all our solutions were always filtered through the scale of distance. Because from the drop off spot for the buses to the entrance to the venue there is a long escalation through the system of fountains and water falls.
Beautiful road to the main entrance to the venue
That we used for one of the videos with project team.
July, 10. Let's talk about decentralization
Julia Pushchina
General Producer at Avocado Toast
So, there will be an exhibition area at WCIT 2019 with different countries and companies that will tell about themselves, their innovations and how they work on making the world better.

Armenia accepts the delegates and Armenia has to tell about itself as well. Explain why it is an international capital of innovations.
Pavel Vabischevich
Art Director
We were discussing the idea of making Armenia area an homage to the Armenian innovators. The people who influenced the development of global science or culture.
DECENTRALIZATION GUIDE
Center and Decentralization
The part where we tell about how making the visual identity work doesn't mean making the idea work.
Listen to what Victor Lander thinks on this subject:
To make an analogy of time the area had to include a diorama table showing the center of culture and innovations in Armenia today.
It was supposed that the flat table surface will be shaped into a relief by black glass squares. And in some places this kind of animation could be done:
In fact a quite clear graphic idea led us to this weird and odd animation.

Kinegrams.
An example above is a work by a Japanese artist Takahira Kuroshima. More of his work can be found here.
If you take a closer look at the installations in the Armenia zone you would see that kinegram animation motif is found in almost all of the installations.

Some of them are based on the zoopraxiscope developed by the legendary Eadweard Muybridge.

By Eadweard Muybridge — Provided directly by Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Public Domain.
Link
We found inspiration in famous works, like those of Matt Collishaw, one of which can be seen above (All Things Fall), or the work of Akinori Goto, that was famous and can be seen below:
July, 15. Stage concept
Julia Pushchina
General Producer at Avocado Toast
Guys, the client likes the concept of our stage, but there are some things to consider:

1. We can't use the moving floor anymore because the number of expected guests has increased. We need additional seats in the pit stalls in front of the stage.

2. Without the moving floor our stage is losing the idea of decentralization as is.
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
So, with a subtle movement of the hand, Vadim broke the forth wall in this long read. Something I wanted to do a bit later.

Oh well.
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
After we were told that the number of participants is increasing and we need to use the pit stalls in front of the stage to add extra seats, we started looking for new solutions for the conference.

Initially, we liked a lot the idea of unit-based stage that would assemble and disassemble depending on the action of the moment.

To make it more appealing, let's put the visualisation into the dark background:
According to the original idea, absolutely everything on stage was supposed to be movable. Every element, even if it was an empty frame was supposed to adjust to the main screen or an individual screen placed in the shape of square, circle or triangle. Everything was supposed to move, transform and change.

Elements of the stage interact between each other and separate screens are used to deliver key information or to broadcast the speaker.

Also according to the original idea, we needed Bill Gates.
But common sense won over creative ambitions
We started putting together the plan on how to implement the complex content in the stage setup. And soon we realized that we can encounter a lot of complexities both from the point of view of preparing the content for the speakers and the technical intermissions during the movement of massive structures of the set up elements.

And also nobody actually invited Bill Gates to the conference.
Eventually, we decided against the idea of unit-based stage and we worked with the second key element in the brand identity — laconicalness.

The key element that we integrated in the stage ideology wise was a displaced cross, symbolising the center. Of course, the WCIT 2019 theme could not have it at the center of the stage.
July, 30. The Show
Koba Mikeladze
Copy
You mean the opening? People gather in the hall and listen to the keynote speech?

Koba Mikeladze
Copy
we need to leave the stage empty
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
Keynote speech is a different story. We are working on the show part right now. As an Intro, as a primer on the theme of decentralization.
Koba Mikeladze
Copy
it can be a false expectation of somebody about entering the stage
Koba Mikeladze
Copy
but nobody does
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
This is a cool idea. But it is not about somebody not entering the stage at the right moment.

For our purpose, yes, I agree this can deliver the idea that the old center is a thing of the past. But it would be very good to create an alternative center playing with the contrast here. A new center.
Koba Mikeladze
Copy
You know what a new center does?
Koba Mikeladze
Copy
It breaks the conventional forms. In effect it introduces disorder in the orderly process. With no negative connotations.

The world today is set up to not always put at the center of attention something that deserves attention. To gain media weight, you need media weight. You can buy it, inflate artificially. This is what everybody is doing in fact.

On the other hand, we see a lot of examples when a person/event/invention, something worthy, makes it thanks to the power of the internet and despite the competition of the media heavy weights.

A new center is a trickster. It draws attention to where LIFE is. Because the center is not where it is habitual, it is where it is interesting.
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
Yes, this is awesome. This is what Vadim Vinogorov did above when he addressed the audience of this long read that was essentially created to recreate the story with the use of real-life messages.
Koba Mikeladze
Copy
Vadim attracted the attention.
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
Vadim became the center....

Koba Mikeladze

The shark of words and meanings
Center is where |
We are used to the situation when the center is attracting our attention. But sometimes the important things are not where we expect them to be.

Sometimes they are invisible until you highlight them yourself. Click triply on the black block below.
We are used to the situation when the center is attracting our attention. But sometimes the important things are not where we expect them to be.

Sometimes they are invisible until you highlight them yourself. Tap several times on the black block below, there is something for you.
See this text sort of has been here all the time but you never noticed it before, never paid attention. And at the same time the text may be very appealing to you. Look! It says here that you are awesome!
If your attention is here it means
that the center
is here.

If you moved your eyes here it means the center is here now.

Now Koba is the new center.

You are looking at him, aren't you?
Alexander Mereskin
Creative Project Director
Hence the idea of the show: points of interest appear spontaneously, in the unexpected places if possible. Switching the viewers' attention is the plot of the show. We want the viewer to realise this process: "Now I'm interested in what happens over here. And now — in what's over there. And it is not hard to turn my head or even get up from this comfortable chair."
During the show, different things took turns being the center: the stage itself, the solo musician playing duduk (ancient Armenian musical instrument), the actors of the show, a little boy, the orchestra and the conductor of the orchestra.

We made the viewers move their attention from one character to another, to turn their head during the performance. And we created new centers with the help of the effects that attract the attention.

But the main point — we not only showed how easy it is to create new centers. We told that a center is not geometry, not geography or scale. Center can be anywhere. And consequently anybody can be the center.
And now by clicking 'play' you will create a new center — a video of the WCIT 2019 opening show.
Upon returning to Moscow and spending some time waiting, procrastinating, meeting friends and re-thinking the experience we are ready to draw a bottom-line on the project.
6400+
attendees
40+
countries
150+
speakers
50+
Prime Ministers, Ministers and Mayors
3000+
ICT companies
8000+
mentions in the renowned media
400+
media representatives
12,000,000+
impressions in the digital media


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