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A Chat with Franco Berardi, Director, Design Services

One of the mission’s of our blog is to offer readers a closer, more personal look at the people who drive the company. This month we turn our attention to 20-plus year veteran Franco Berardi, who shared with us his experiences working on the recent Zimmer-Biomet projects, as well as what drives him creatively.

Q. Eighteen years is a long time to work with a client. Talk about your collaborative relationship with Zimmer. What does Riverview bring to the table that others don’t or can’t? How do you keep it fresh creatively year after year?

Franco: Designing not only what’s cool, but making it purposeful is the edge we have on others. Our internal ecosystem is set up to support a creative vision and carry it through to completion, whether it’s a simple show or a complex one like Zimmer-Biomet. For me and the rest of the team, it’s the thrill of working on this type of creative assignment keeps us excited year after year.Q. What were some of the creative and technical challenges you faced this time around?

Q. What were some of the creative and technical challenges you faced this time around?

Franco: Rigging is always the technical challenge and every design is built from the rigging up. This year we needed to hang anywhere from 30 to 60 tons of equipment and scenic banners above the booth space. All hanging elements of the booth, including lighting, video, and scenic banners are taken into account as we build the system. That gives us the control to balance out every aspect visually and experience all elements that make it.

Q. In the past you likened the Zimmer booth to creating a theme park. Is that still an apt analogy?

Franco: I also call it “Planet Zimmer” given the sheer size and scope of it. This year embodied that feeling not only in size, but the design itself, which was very solar system-like. Large, sweeping headers throughout the space created a central core of activity — lead by the automated video system delivering the content about Zimmer/Biomet Products. The two-story structure with conference rooms and a media loft space to hold impromptu meetings with clients, made this booth really seem like a planet of its own.

Q. Speaking more broadly, how has the company, and more generally the industry, changed over the years?

Franco: In the past audio visual companies were tasked with making screens, audio, and lighting fit within a particular booth or environmental design. This service came with capable technicians that could use the equipment to amplify the theatrical needs of the given design. The shift nowadays goes beyond just being able to control a particular piece of equipment, but also how to create with it and use features to creatively drive the look and feel of the design. Today, technology is plentiful, but creating designs and executing them flawlessly with purpose are what is most important to our clients and what we do best.

Q. As a Riverview viewer, talk about your history with the company. How did you get your start there?

Franco: Well, I literally grew up here at the ‘View’. Growing up in a creative and technical environment has been amazing. At the time I got my job here, the arts culture in the Silicon Valley was well funded and attended – it was everywhere and our shows consisted of corporate meetings, trade shows, and live entertainment. I was very fortunate to be able to work hands-on in various disciplines of the industry early on. My duties often fell to lighting design and running the light board for pop concerts and local worship celebration shows Learning and creating in such an environment that changes daily gave me an ‘anything is possible’ mindset. I was, and continue to be in awe of the magic of live productions and how it makes you feel and view life after you’ve left the venue or theater. Creating a lighting plot, a production design, or helping to realize another’s scenic vision and being a big part of the team here that creates powerful visual expression through live events design excites me.

Q. Do you have a favorite tool — an app or hardware — that is central to your creative process?

Franco: Short and sweet: my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, Dropbox, Vectorworks, and MAXON Cinema 4D.

Q. What inspires you creatively?

Franco: Seeing one of my finished designs or helping other designers bring their visions to life is truly inspirational. During the creative process, I often dream about the environment I’m creating and how the lights, scenic, and screen act in relation to each other and how these will also react with the people that are in attendance. The creative journey leading up to show time is really the fun part of the process — all the rest is gravy.

Q. On a personal level, what are reading, listening to, favorite TV show and last movie you loved, things you like to do?

Franco: I love music and typically there is music blaring in my office throughout the day. The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage, both by Paulo Coelho, are among my present book favorites. I’m not as into movies or TV, however I read a lot of articles about design, art, technology, fashion, etc.  Most of all, I love spending time with my wife and kids. Being able to play like a child is an amazing part of learning and creating and doing this with my family is truly the best part of life.

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