Aleks Marjanovic

Interdisciplinary Architect

Persuasion Tactics of Staging

A heuristic framework for spatial communication design

My final master thesis in integrated design

One of the toughest tasks an exhibition designer faces is to turn a blank paper into a persuasive solution. My aim was to define a comprehensive system of thinking about staging, to help aid creatives through a spatial design process. In the case of staging, that solution is an embodiment of a concept, idea, information, feeling, etc. within and around the built environment- one that is convincing enough to delight and intrigue.
From this thinking sprung the key question of my thesis: If staging is seen as ‘the art of persuasion’ in space, is it possible to use classical theories of rhetoric in order to develop models and methods for 3D communication design?
With those questions to guide me, I embarked on a study of classical theories of rhetoric and their relations to the design process.

The Research

I developed a framework meant to be used as an analytical tool as well as a synthetical one. To do so I explored a number of different types of exhibition spaces from all over the world. From historical museums, to ceramic shops and cafe chains, I took the most relevant examples and ran them through the 3 models established in rhetorical theory since ancient Greek times, that we’re now translated into a ‘theory of staging’. When placed through the rhetorical filter, many seemingly different staging solutions revealed their similar intent, as well as the differences that made them unique. Using the framework I created as an analytical tool helped evolve the way I understood the underlying conceptual structures and elements of spatial communication.

Outcome- The Exhibition

Using the findings and concepts in my thesis as raw content, I created an exhibition experience for those curious to stop by. My professors we’re delighted to see the somewhat abstract ideas I’d presented for my final thesis take a more physical form. This clarified and confirmed the validity of the heuristic framework for staging I put forward. It was also something that the visitors and professors could touch and feel. They enjoyed flipping though the thesis booklet, after wandering through the ‘narrative gallery’. It’s fair to say that I really had achieved the goal of designing a persuasive communicative space!

Still curious? Take a look at an excerpt from the theoretical component of my final