CDS Experience

A new Channel Marketing Interactive Showcase was to be featured at the Microsoft event START. The Showcase would expand across all lines of business (Office, Surface, Windows, Xbox, OEM, HMD, and ExpertZone), showcasing the latest and greatest in channel and digital executions. This is a detailed account of my involvement in the design portion of the event.

My Role

I was the lead designer and responsible for the overall art direction of the CDS Experience. I worked alongside three designers and a 3D renderer to communicate my vision and bring it to life. I presented our deliverables along with my Creative Director to key stake holders in a tight time line of three weeks.

The Ask

I was tasked with the overall art direction of the Channel Marketing Interactive Showcase (CDS Experience) that would be featured as the pinnacle experience for START attendees. The goal was to create rabid fans and to inspire the audience to leverage what they learned in the conference breakout sessions.


The Challenge

In a short time line of three weeks, I had to come up with a cohesive visual identity that complied with the overall START brand and the individual lines of business (Office, Surface, Windows, Xbox, ExpertZone, the Retail Experience Center, and many more) represented in the showcase. I also had to create a customer journey that complied with an overarching story line. Based on the budget I was asked to concept new fixtures but also leverage existing fixtures while accruing a premium level of accessibility, consistency, and quality.  

The Idea

Where did we want our user to go in this space? How were we going to decide what went where? What was the cohesive thread from booth to booth? To address these questions, we came up with an overarching story line. The idea was to take our guests on a journey that traced a device’s path from the drawing board to a customer’s home or office, highlighting the key milestones where CDS played a role. Phases of the journey were, Creation, Curation, Connection, and Coming Next. 

Look and Feel

I presented three visual concepts that used retail principles such as line of site and device as hero. The concept the client chose featured large slat walls and a natural pallet that married well with the existing START brand.

User Journey

The journey and what drove the user to get through the space was just as important as the visual representation. My visual solution used line of sight to draw the user into the space with large slat walls that allowed the user to see just enough to be curious. I used the most classic shopping experience (getting milk at the grocery store), to inspire the placement of the coffee cart. It's thought that grocery stores usually put the necessities at the back of the store to drive users through areas they would not have gone otherwise.

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We created a signage suite that included wayfinding, table signage, table backers, handouts, and a table tent. We leveraged wood left over from the slat walls to create the table signage holder.

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Some of the booths required new fixtures. I worked closely with the LOB booth owners to create sketches that fit the needs of the individual booth story. The sketches were converted to 3D renders and sent over to Imagicorps for final building. I was also tasked with reusing older fixtures. I spent a lot of time cataloging what was available in our warehouses, and divvying it up to the LOB that made the most sense. I then worked closely with Imagicorps to bring the fixtures up to speed with the look and feel. This approach yielded a premium quality event for a fraction of the price.

Accessibility & Inclusive Design

Microsoft’s Mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We worked with the Microsoft Accessibility Group to come up with iconography and a designated area to help users become familiar with Microsoft’s Accessibility and Inclusion efforts across products, people and programs. We included these icons on the table signs of each booth.

I started with a rough digital sketch. I worked closely with Imagicorps to refurbish an existing fixture, create a peg board display for the icons, and custom bin to hold handouts and pins.

Windows Hello IR Camera

In this booth, my concept was to tell the story of the Windows Hello IR Camera. The story touched on how Iteration after iteration led to a sleek integrated chip that enabled Windows Hello. Three iterations were displayed on the table showcasing the prototype journey. We took the opportunity to tie in Microsoft Inclusive design on the table backer where we showcased how accessible Windows Hello is.

User Centric Design

For this booth, the focus was on the Diamond Creek device prototype journey and the user it was designed for. The initial Diamond Creek design was focused on durability. The creators wanted to make a rugged device that would withstand the tests of being thrown around in a back pack. In this booth, I showcased the device prototype journey and visually displayed items that gave an idea of who the user was. I built this knolling concept around an ideal customer persona. We used curated items such as a dirty back pack and sneakers to tell the user story.

Xbox Play and Learn

Anyone in any line of business can live stream! This booth was centered around guiding others to grow their own LOB live stream program. My rough sketches were converted into a 3D render and then a custom booth and an infographic panel that focused on Xbox’s live stream success worldwide.

HMD Display

The Windows Mixed Reality program was set to launch in 8 markets for Holiday. I worked closely with the Windows subject matter experts to create a premium quality display that focused on what was coming soon. My creative Director and I displayed the HMDs in a museum quality way.

Project Success

Microsoft relies heavily on feedback. After the event, survey results were overwhelmingly positive. The CDS showcase was voted the second-best experience at START. Many people stated that they would like to see this same showcase concept repeated at future events such as Ready/MGX, E3, CEO Summit, and others.