Monday, August 15, 2011

SM and QC: Visions of a City Exhibit in SM North Edsa

Okay, this is not going to be pretty. I know the people behind this event are rich, important people, but I promised no sugarcoating: I hated this exhibit!

Bf, being his usual Filipiniana buff self, wanted to see this exhibit titled SM and QC: Visions of a City. It was held in SM City North Edsa and would later be moved to other SM malls in Quezon City.

What was the SM and QC: Visions of a City exhibit about?
The exhibit showed the development of Quezon City from the 1940s (when Quezon City was being planned to be the new capital of the Philippines) to the present time, with a special focus on SM City North Edsa. Our country's participation in World's Fairs during the pre-war era was also shown. The exhibit was a partnership between Bluprint magazine (a design and architecture magazine) and SM.

The good things first.
  • The exhibit was free and open to the public
  • The exhibit was held in SM North Edsa, so very accessible and convenient.

Now the bad things.

This event was a collaboration between Bluprint and SM and had important guests from the government, the architectural community, and the academe. Needless to say, there was no shortage of creative people, connections or resources, but the output was so disappointing.

There were 18 panels showing blown up old images and articles. Because the images were old, most of them were black-and-white and some were faded. The write-ups were in very small fonts. Going through one or two such panels would have been okay, but 18 of them? Eyestrain! There were many typographical errors and bf said the year mentioned in one of the panels was wrong (I don't know if that's true). Some panels featured old news articles too faded to be readable.

In the center there was a huge table. When I saw it from afar, I thought "Miniature models! Cool!" I got excited, but when I approached it, the excitement waned. I could barely see anything in that sea of green. Just look at the table, at that wide green expanse, and imagine you're standing by the edges of the table. Do you think you can see the details in the center (dark green areas), where things were concentrated?

picture blatantly ripped off the SM City North Edsa Facebook page

I'm not a design guru; even stick figures are a challenge to me, but here are some of the things I would have done if I were involved in this exhibit:
  1. Proofread the captions of the pictures.
  2. Display an artifact. Even something as simple as period clothes worn by mannequins would have added color, appeal, and dimension to the exhibit. With everything being 2D, the exhibit fell flat.
  3. Quality over quantity: instead of bombarding the audience with tons of old photos and hard-to-read news articles, choose only the good-quality ones and cut down the clutter by displaying only a few per panel. There were several good photos displayed there, very iconic. They just got drowned out by less important/faded ones.
  4. A then-and-now picture comparison, placed side by side.
  5. Images of how Quezon City would have looked today if the 1940s plans were implemented
  6. International fairs, I assume, were breathtaking events. Perhaps have my team of designers recreate a colored rendition of the Philippines' entries.
  7. Instead of a flat map or a barely-3D model, create a miniature model of QC, concentrating on the points of interest. The model does not have to be painstakingly detailed, but at least give people idea on how things looked like back then.
The exhibit was a free event, so maybe I don't have the right to complain. Beggars can't be choosers as they say. It was just quite ironic for a joint endeavor between a tycoon and a group of talented designers to not take ergonomics and good design practices into consideration.

SM and QC: Visions of a City
SM City North Edsa
Quezon City, Metro Manila
August 13, 2011

1 comment:

  1. I love everything you said. Very constructive. We have the same musings of this great old city. Once I get my real blog up and running, I'd sure love to link with you. Cheers!


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