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NXTLVL Experience Design

Episode 54: Joe Lanzisero

“The Power of Story: An Emotional Narrative and Design Subtext” with Joe Lanzisero

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EPISODE SUMMARY

Joe Lanzisero served as the senior creative executive in charge of projects for Walt Disney Imagineering across multiple platforms in the company’s cruise, theme park, hotel & resort, restaurant and retail business lines. The power of story can be seen in its capacity to drive and emotional narrative deeply connecting to people creating memories and profound relationships and it can also be used as a subtext to the design process helping a design team by guiding decision-making along the path from project brief, to concept to a completed design.

EPISODE NOTES

ABOUT JOE LANZISERO: 

Joe’s Profile: linkedin.com/in/joelanzisero

Email: jlmonkeyfez@gmail.com

Twitter: joe_lanzisero 

Website: lanziserocreative.com

Instagram: @joelanzisero

BIO:

JOE LANZISERO Former Creative Executive, Senior Vice President, Hong Kong Disneyland & Disney Cruise Line Portfolios Walt Disney Imagineering, Current Creative and UX Consultant, and Executive Vice President & Creative Director Zeitgeist Design and Production 

Joe Lanzisero served as the senior creative executive in charge of projects for Walt Disney Imagineering across multiple platforms in the company’s cruise, theme park, hotel & resort, restaurant and retail business lines.

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With more than three decades of Disney experience, Joe worked with teams of artists, writers, architects and engineers, he serves as the eyes and artistic conscience of a project from conception through completion.

Joe was responsible for the creative development of the two newest ships for the Disney Cruise Line, and oversaw the teams that designed these new state-of-the-art ships (Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy) which launched in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Many features such as the innovative dinner show “Animation Magic” and the inclusion of an onboard water coaster (the AquaDuck) are cruise industry firsts.

At Hong Kong Disneyland, Joe oversaw the expansion of the park by more than 20 percent over a three-year period. The additions of three new lands – Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and most recently, Mystic Point, adds more excitement and fun for guests of all ages.

Lanzisero began his Disney career in 1979 in Feature Animation (now Walt Disney Animation Studios), working on the animation, special effects, storyboarding and story development of numerous features, shorts and special project.

He came to Imagineering in 1987 as a concept designer and was on the design teams for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park at Walt Disney World, Critter Country at Disneyland, and Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris.

In 1991, Lanzisero was promoted to senior concept designer and immediately plunged into the development of Mickey’s Toontown, the wacky cartoon “community” that opened at Disneyland Park in 1993. He also developed the concept for Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, a wild and funny dark ride that opened in Mickey’s Toontown the following year. Lanzisero also supervised the concept design for the Tokyo Disneyland version of Toontown that opened in 1996.

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Before joining the Tokyo Disneyland project team in 1999, he developed the concept for Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, a pair of unique miniature golf courses at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Another new venture, Disney Cruise Line, benefited from his work on children’s spaces and activities. And he was behind the 12/10/2013 conceptual design and development of DisneyFest, a unique Disney entertainment venue that traveled throughout the Far East and South America.

In 2001 Joe was promoted to creative vice president for Tokyo Disney Resort, charged with overseeing all design in Tokyo. For Tokyo Disney Resort, he worked on such attractions as Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Toontown, Critter Country and Splash Mountain. He did the concept development for Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast in Tokyo DisneySea as well as many other projects. He directed the creative development of Tower of Terror attraction and Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek.

In March 2007, Joe was promoted to creative senior vice president with the added responsibilities of overseeing all design for Hong Kong Disneyland, including leading the design of a major three-land expansion of the park.

A member of the first graduating class of the Walt Disney Character Animation program at California Institute of the Arts in 1979, Lanzisero developed his artistic talents with old-time Disney professionals. He applied his education as a teacher at the Otis Art Institute and in the animation industry before joining The Walt Disney Company.

Currently Joe is a consultant to the Themed Entertainment, Cruise, Museum and Hospitality industries with a portfolio of ongoing international and domestic projects in various stages of design and production.

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Joe is also actively involved in the UX world and is a sought after speaker in this sector. He has been the Keynote Speaker at the World Usability Congress in Graz Austria and has spoken and consulted on UX to major companies like Macys and Silicon Valley startups.

He is also currently Executive Vice President and Creative Director for Zeitgeist Design and Production. Zeitgeist currently has a roster of international and domestic projects. Domestically they are working on high profile museum projects. Internationally they are the creative development team exclusive to Chimelong Resorts in Guangzhou China.

Joe is full-time consultant working for visionary clients all over the world. He welcomes the chance to learn more about your big idea and explore ways he might serve you.

 

SHOW INTRO:

Welcome to the NXTLVL Experience Design podcast. Over our 4 seasons we have focused on “Dialogues on DATA: Design Architecture, Technology and the Arts”.

NXTLVL features provocateurs for whom disruption and transformation are a way of engaging in work and play every day.Theyinclude thought leaders who are driven by curiosity, a passion to create the ‘New Possible’ and a mindset of promoting new paradigms of experiences.

They include leading scientists, artists, musicians, architects, entertainers and story tellers whose research, exploration and built work brings new understanding of the impact and relevance of place-making to the world.

On the show, we focus on what’s now and what’s next.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

In this episode we talk about storytelling with a master, Joe Lanzisero former SVP at Walt Disney Imagineering.

We’ll get to our conversation in a minute but first a few thoughts on why I love this topic:

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

Stories are powerful.

They are among the engines of culture and we have relied on sharing them for millennia as part of our human socio-cultural and spiritual development. We stamped out narratives around tribal fires, shared them on trade routes and built public squares combining commerce and culture through the need to share life experiences with storytelling.

Stories are also crucial to our empathic development, as well as providing context to our lives.

And stories can also act as path to follow for designers that provides a reference point for design decisions guiding massing or volumes, layouts, use of materials, geometries and other aesthetic choices. Story can be used as a tool to determine the sequence of a brand’s signature moments and experiences along a customer journey.

The best stories are easy to remember because they paint pictures in our minds that tap into our deep feelings. Because they often create emotional responses and evoke strong visualizations, they play into our long history of communicating through pictures. In many ways, stories are the framework by which we remember things.

While the core components of good storytelling may be the same as they have been for years. In fact Joseph Campbell asserted in his book “A hero With A Thousand Faces,” that there was really only one story, a structure that was reinterpreted across time and cultures.

The super interesting feature of our brains and stories is that while reading, listening to or watching stories unfold on screen, we develop elaborate mental representations of the situations described in the text, lyrics or scenes.

Researchers have gathered evidence through fMRI scans of individuals reading narratives that “the neural responses to particular types of changes in the stories occurred in the vicinity of regions that increase in activity when viewing similar changes, or when carrying out similar activities in the real world.” (see: Reading Stories Activates Neural Representations of Visual and Motor Experiences, Nicole K. Speer, Jeremy R. Reynolds, Khena M. Swallow and M. Zacks, Psychological Science, Volume 20 – No.8, 2009).

In other words, as subjects read about characters in a story, their brains react in a manner that is similar to them personally experiencing those characters’ situations.

Studies by Brian Pulvermüller (see: Pulvermüller F. Brain Mechanisms Linking Language and Action. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2005;6:576–582) have demonstrated that brain regions involved in reading action words (verbs) are some of the same regions involved in performing analogous actions in the real world. So, if you read the word “throw” or “catch”, brain regions light up in fMRI scans that are activated when moving one’s arm or hands.

When engaging with story, our brains react to words as if we’re experiencing the story in the real world.

Cognitive scientist Roger C. Schank explains that – “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they’re ideally set up to understand stories.”

I’ve been fascinated with story for years. Stories were a crucial part of bedtime rituals with my sons when they were young.

We were deeply connected to the value of story and their ability to communicate ideas, morals and values.

When my older son was very young, he loved stories and asked my wife to read two stories at the same time so that he could introduce the characters from one narrative to those in another book. “no mommy,” he explained “turn dis book towards de other so the characters can see each other too…”

So this is where my guest comes into the narrative…

JOE LANZISERO is the Former Creative Executive, Senior Vice President, Hong Kong Disneyland & Disney Cruise Line Portfolios Walt Disney Imagineering. He is currently the Creative and UX Consultant, and Executive Vice President & Creative Director Zeitgeist Design and Production.

Joe Lanzisero served as the senior creative executive in charge of projects for Walt Disney Imagineering across multiple platforms in the company’s cruise, theme park, hotel & resort, restaurant and retail business lines.

With more than three decades of Disney experience, Joe worked with teams of artists, writers, architects and engineers, he serves as the eyes and artistic conscience of a project from conception through completion.

Lanzisero began his Disney career in 1979 in Feature Animation (now Walt Disney Animation Studios), working on the animation, special effects, storyboarding and story development of numerous features, shorts and special project.

After a number of years and promotions with in the Walt Disney organization Joe was promoted to creative vice president for Tokyo Disney Resort, charged with overseeing all design in Tokyo in 2001 and then again in March 2007 to creative senior vice president with the added responsibilities of overseeing all design for Hong Kong Disneyland, including leading the design of a major three-land expansion of the park.

Joe is currently Executive Vice President and Creative Director for Zeitgeist Design and Production and a consultant to the Themed Entertainment, Cruise, Museum and Hospitality industries with a portfolio of ongoing international and domestic projects in various stages of design and production.

As a note to the listener, I caught up with Joe Lanzisero, at the SHOP Marketplace event in Austin Texas. So, you going to hear the din of the tradeshow floor but the conversation is nonetheless engaging…

ABOUT DAVID KEPRON:

LinkedIn Profile: linkedin.com/in/david-kepron-9a1582b

Websites: 

https://www.davidkepron.com    (personal website)

vmsd.com/taxonomy/term/8645  (Blog)

Email: david.kepron@NXTLVLexperiencedesign.com

Twitter: DavidKepron

Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidkepron/

NXTLVL Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nxtlvl_experience_design/

Bio:

David Kepron is a multifaceted creative professional with a deep curiosity to understand ‘why’, ‘what’s now’ and ‘what’s next’. He brings together his background as an architect, artist, educator, author, podcast host and builder to the making of meaningful and empathically-focused, community-centric customer connections at brand experience places around the globe.

David is a former VP – Global Design Strategies at Marriott International. While at Marriott, his focus was on the creation of compelling customer experiences within Marriott’s “Premium Distinctive” segment which included: Westin, Renaissance, Le Meridien, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels and Gaylord hotels.

In 2020 Kepron founded NXTLVL Experience Design, a strategy and design consultancy, where he combines his multidisciplinary approach to the creation of relevant brand engagements with his passion for social and cultural anthropology, neuroscience and emerging digital technologies.

As a frequently requested international speaker at corporate events and international conferences focusing on CX, digital transformation, retail, hospitality, emerging technology, David shares his expertise on subjects ranging from consumer behaviors and trends, brain science and buying behavior, store design and visual merchandising, hotel design and strategy as well as creativity and innovation. In his talks, David shares visionary ideas on how brand strategy, brain science and emerging technologies are changing guest expectations about relationships they want to have with brands and how companies can remain relevant in a digitally enabled marketplace.

David currently shares his experience and insight on various industry boards including: VMSD magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, the Interactive Customer Experience Association, Sign Research Foundation’s Program Committee as well as the Center For Retail Transformation at George Mason University.

He has held teaching positions at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), the Department of Architecture & Interior Design of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (L.I.M.) in New York, the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Montreal and he served as the Director of the Visual Merchandising Department at LaSalle International Fashion School (L.I.F.S.) in Singapore.

In 2014 Kepron published his first book titled: “Retail (r)Evolution: Why Creating Right-Brain Stores Will Shape the Future of Shopping in a Digitally Driven World” and he is currently working on his second book to be published soon. David also writes a popular blog called “Brain Food” which is published monthly on vmsd.com.

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The next level experience design podcast is presented by VMSD magazine and Smartwork Media. It is hosted and executive produced by David Kepron. Our original music and audio production by Kano Sound. 

The content of this podcast is copyright to David Kepron and NXTLVL Experience Design. Any publication or rebroadcast of the content is prohibited without the expressed written consent of David Kepron and NXTLVL Experience Design.

Make sure to tune in for more NXTLVL “Dialogues on DATA: Design Architecture Technology and the Arts” wherever you find your favorite podcasts and make sure to visit vmsd.com and look for the tab for the NXTLVL Experience Design podcast there too.

 

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