The president and chief creative officer of Drury Design is tasked with making large-scale events feel cohesive and engaging.

Chris Drury_BB InnovatorAs president and chief creative officer of New York-based Drury Design, Chris Drury, counts 35 years in the business—and is still continually chasing innovation. His company commits to it, invests in it, and even has its own internal think tank dedicated to generating fresh ideas.

The group brings those ideas to life at an event called SummerMash, which invites clients and creative partners for a full day of innovation and education—for instance, Drury once used the event to introduce and experiment with projection mapping before it went mainstream. “Many of the initiatives we’ve started there have found their way into future events,” he says. “From the very beginning, innovation has always been a core value here.”

For corporate clients, Drury Design specializes in creating big arena shows with huge audiences across multiple venues. Drury characterizes his strength as designing “innovation at scale.” “Messages need to be big, images need to be simple and dramatic, and staging and technology need to be sophisticated and powerful,” he says.

Drury is responsible for helming IBM InterConnect, an event so big it takes over two venues in Las Vegas. Last year, in order to make it feel cohesive, his team connected the audience via a live broadcast with a host and field reporters. This year, the production included a 27-piece orchestra and a choir behind a huge perforated screen. A dramatic reveal showed that they were performing live, in sync with the on-screen images—creating a unique connection between the message and the audience.

For the debut of a new in-store program for a Walmart in Orlando, the crescendo to the general session included a stage with background drapes that opened to reveal a 275,000-square-foot store installed in one of the convention center’s adjacent halls. Audience members were invited to leave their seats and walk on stage and into the store.

Drury says he pulls inspiration from diverse areas, from technology to art—and that innovation doesn’t happen by accident.

“Design thinking doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” he says. “We have spent a lot of time and money investing in innovation that is extraordinary. I’m always thinking, What is the unexpected point of view on this? How can I see this from another angle?”

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This article was written by Alesandra Dubin and first published in BizBash, May 17, 2016.

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