Experience by Design

Making Memories and Place with Julia Beabout

Episode Summary

Julia Beabout is "on fire for fairness." As CEO and Creative Director at Novaby, she uses her passion for change and representation to use augmented and virtual reality to make places reflect those who live there. We talk about her work with the Monumental Conversations project in Richmond, VA, creating AIDS virtual memories in Seattle, and how theories on collective memory can help us design better experiences. We also talk about how she brings a degree in architecture and advanced degree in Asian studies to all of her work.

Episode Notes

Memories are central to our lives, and how we form a sense of who we are as people. How we remember and engage with the past speaks to our identity in the present. Both events good and bad can form deep impressions in our minds, cutting grooves  and building pinnacles that create the topography of our experiences. Low points and high points, trauma and triumphs, all are part of the past brought to present in our memories.

But memories are not ours alone to make. Rather, memories can be built, constructed, framed, and recalled in the context of others, society, and culture. We can see this today in American society, where there is a lot of contested territory regarding what is being remembered and how. When we broaden out the voices being represented in these collective memories, the challenge becomes even greater to be inclusive and to negotiate memories in these contested spaces.

To explore the creation of memory and place, Julia Beabout from the company Novaby visits the Experience by Design studios. Julia is the CEO and Creative Director at Novaby, and was involved in the Monumental Conversations project in Richmond, VA. The project combined augmented reality with local community institutions to tell different stories about place, history, and memory. 

She describes herself as “On fire for Fairness”, trying to create engaging experiences that capture the collective memories of community members. ‘Place making’ as she calls it is about co-creation with the community, and then making augmented and virtual memorials to commemorate in ways that are themselves memorable. By doing so, we make environments that are inclusive and representative in a continuous ways as our understanding of who we are evolves.