We Convene

Convening is the art and science of bringing people together around a physical place, space, idea, forum and experience.

What role can design play in impacting how people inhabit the built environment and make decisions about where to live, shop, eat, work or relax? Put differently, how can a strategy and design firm influence the way that people convene?

Since 1992, Shook Kelley has been studying the role physical places, spaces and experiences have on human decision-making, from the brand of gum they choose at the grocery store checkout line, to the type of house where they choose to live and raise a family. In a world overflowing with choices, we want to know what makes people decide to choose one place over another: Why drive by three other perfectly fine supermarkets and choose this grocery store? Why drive ten miles to hang out at this urban district? Or why choose to live in this neighborhood or set up an office at this address, over some other area?

It's about the experience of a place, for sure: its dimensions, scale, views, amenities, acoustics, aesthetics, ambience and charm. But it's also about the bigger idea of the place, too: the vision, mythology, personality, character, values, promise and soul of the place. Understanding and then managing this strange and often irrational alchemy of place, design, experience, brand and strategy is what Shook Kelley does. We call this combination The Power To Convene. We unlock this special potential in order to influence how people choose, and then come to identify with a place, over any other place.

We call this process Convening.

Common ground: where exactly does convening happen?

Essentially, it's a universal principle of human nature: People need to convene. But where does convening happen?

While you will hear us commonly refer to convening happening in a "place," convening admittedly occurs in many different types of locations and in many different ways. Still, there are some common threads to be found in all cases of convening. Whether it happens on the street or online, in a retail shop, through social media or at a restaurant, human beings seek out contexts where they can greet, meet and discover like-minded people. We are all in search of identity, connections and a sense of belonging. And whether that means becoming a follower on a Twitter page, banding together with a new circle of friends at a Harley-Davidson® dealership or merely shopping alongside people with similar tastes and convictions at Birkdale Village, the nature of the ties we seek can vary widely. But in all its different shapes and forms, convening is an undeniable and universal truth. Far too often this truth is not recognized, captured or harnessed for its full potential.

At Shook Kelley, our expertise and knowledge base is focused on how physical places, spaces, forums and experiences have the potential to convene people. While we could spend all day parsing words on the subject, we're basically talking about real people discovering who they are, in real world contexts.


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