Photo courtesy of ASU

By Olivia Dow | April 7, 2021

ASU Gammage has transformed its parking garage into a drive-thru immersive experience celebrating the arts, design and production.

The venue, in partnership with the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA), Hybycozo and Lightswitch, present designspace, which runs from April 9 to April 25.

The pandemic changed the entertainment business and left many people out of work for many months. Designspace is brightening the lives of industry professionals and students.

John Featherstone, one of Lightswitch’s founding members, says they tried to create a “remarkable experience” for viewers of the experience and provide experience for institute students and industry professionals.

“The technicians and designers and artists are going to come in and work with the students and create something truly out of the moment,” Featherstone says. 

“We think designspace is really of the moment. If two years ago we’d said, ‘Hey, we’re doing a show in a parking garage,’ I’m sure you would have been, ‘Are you insane?’ Now, in the world we’re in now, nothing seems too crazy.”

Featherstone says because of the new “paradigm” the entertainment industry can create a new genre of events.

“The only difference is rather than walking through the museum, you’re driving through it. We want to keep people in their cars, obviously so everybody’s safe and COVID compliant,” Featherstone says.

While Gammage can’t host Broadway shows like “Hamilton,” designspace aligns with the venue’s “philosophy” and programing, Featherstone says.

“That’s kind of the genius of the idea, and since then we established the help with the people at Gammage, because a lot of people think of Gammage as being the physical architecture of the building, and of course it is that,” Featherstone says.

“Gammage is really a movement, as much as it is an architecture. It’s a philosophy, more than a building, and part of the Gammage philosophy is to bring interesting, unusual and thought-provoking event experiences to the audience in the Phoenix Valley.”

In the entertainment business, it is rare that a new concept for an event happens. When it does, it’s really exciting, Featherstone says.

“But essentially, we are creating a drive-thru contemporary art experience, the like of which we hope none of the guests have ever seen,” Featherstone says.

“Because frankly, we’re inventing this as we go, in collaboration with Gammage and the Herberger school.”

Students see designspace as an opportunity to unleash creativity. Designspace is helping seniors receive hands-on experience with industry professionals.

“So, over the years, I’ve had a great relationship with ASU mostly, HIDA, the Herberger Institute, coming down and talking to students about their career path and aligning themselves with the real world, and one of the things that I’ve talked about over and over again is the importance of experience,” Featherstone says.

“And then it dawned on me, a little before Christmas, that so many of these students are going to graduate without having had real hands-on experience.”

The project was a learning experience as well for Featherstone, who has been in the entertainment business for over 30 years.

“This is all of us collaborating together, and there’s never an opportunity like this where I don’t learn something from the amazing students,” he says.

“We go on this great more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts process of experimentation and ideation with the students, and a ton of that’s been going on already,” Featherstone says.

designspace

When: 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. April 9 to April 25

Where: ASU Packard Garage, Sixth Street and Packard Drive, Tempe

Cost: $40 per car

Info: asugammage.com/designspace

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