Expo 2015+100

Expo 2015+100

Expo 2015 starts on May 1st, but it's already time to preserve the present for the future.

Normally, I live in San Francsico, but since September, I've been in Milan witnessing firsthand as the city as prepares to host a world's fair. As usual before an expo, people aren’t quite sure what to expect and it’s sometimes a challenge to help the public visualize what the experience will be like as the pavilions are still taking shape. Even to Expo organizers, there are hidden gems in the individual pavilions that won’t become apparent until opening day.

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Putting Myself in the Path

As I type this, I’m in a metal tube hurdling across Baffin Bay (between Canada and Greenland) on my way from San Francisco to Milan.

After having been to nine world’s fairs (1982 Knoxville, 1984 New Orleans, 1986 Vancouver, 1998 Lisbon, 2000 Hannover, 2005 Aichi, 2008 Zaragoza, 2010 Shanghai, and 2012 Yeosu), and reported on them in newspapers, magazines, and on television, I decided that the time was right for me to actually live in a city as it prepares to host an international expositions. Like a tornado hunter, I’m putting myself in the path this time.

As it happens, Milan’s legacy of design and education coincides well with my own career needs. For years, I’ve worked in graphic design in marketing departments, so I’ll be pursuing a graduate degree in Visual Brand Design in the coming ten months.

This year, as folks in New York celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of their iconic world’s fairs and San Francisco prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, I’m hoping to bring attention to the medium as it exists today. World’s fairs are not dead.

Recently, America’s National Public Radio (NPR) featured a segment asking people the question “What would a world’s fair be like today?” Typically in reports like this, there’s at least a passing reference to the fact that world’s fairs still exist. They’re usually dismissed as not being as big or important as they used to be. Sadly, I think this is a symptom of the America-centric attitude we have: If they don’t happen here, they must not be important. By this logic, there hasn't been a Summer Olympics or a World Cup since the 1990's.

One of my hopes, while here, is to find a way to bring a world’s fair back to North America while bringing the excitement of Expo 2015 to Americans through the web.

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