Nearly a year after Livsreise opened in Stoughton, the Madison-based studio behind the center’s design still flies the Norwegian flag in its office.
“We all consider ourselves honorary Norwegians at this point,” said Chris Moore, the vice president and new media director at Zebradog.
They’re also still being recognized at an international level for their work on Livsreise, Stoughton’s Norwegian heritage center. The Digital Signage Expo APEX Awards awarded Zebradog with a bronze in the “Immersive Environments” category last month, recognizing it among 19 global entries alongside competitors like Daimler Automotive and the Microsoft Corporate Office.
The awards “recognize excellence in the development of digital interactive experiences across a variety of sectors,” according to a news release. This year’s winners were selected from a field of 153 entrants from 11 countries by a jury of 13 industry experts and journalists that select the projects based on their originality and innovation.
Moore, who referred to Livsreise as the “epicenter” of the city’s cultural identity, credited the Bryant Foundation for having a “clear vision” for the center when they started working together about three years ago.
“(Bryant Foundation trustee Jerry Gryttenholm) would always say, ‘We’re just going to do it right.’ He would really follow that,” Moore said. “And there were a lot of challenges in this facility that were major hurdles to overcome, and he was willing to put in the time and the energy … because that was the right answer.”
Taking the time to find that best approach played a strong role in one of the center’s most prominent installations: the “journey wall” and map. The wall features the experiences of the Norwegian that came to settle in America around the turn of the century, compiling them into an interactive, “choose your own adventure” format.
Zebradog did extensive research to assemble those experiences, both through in-person interviews and gathering artifacts and other items to tell the story in a more tangible way.
“It’s always great when you go through a project and you feel like what you have put in place, that it feels right and it’s the right solution,” Moore said. “Overwhelmingly at Livsreise, everything is exactly where it should be. (The award) helps validate it for us … that other people think it’s compelling and feel the same way.”
The journal wall is the “largest array of this particular display technology in the country,” Moore added, and it anchored the design scheme of the center as “a compelling visual” even at the conceptual stage.
Using technology to add a layer to the experience – rather than act as the focal point – was also an important goal for Zebradog, which has worked with clients including the Green Bay Packers, the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and Northwestern University. Moore said that by using digital displays to “give people a deeper experience or provide more context” to real stories and artifacts, the center is able to truly honor the people it represents.
“If we didn’t talk to this person, if we didn’t record this story, it might be gone,” Moore said. “Stories disappear, and it’s important to capture those and celebrate them when you can.”