In March, news came that the bangin’ rock & roll experience company TAIT had acquired the imaginative powerhouse Thinkwell now in its 20th anniversary year. When Michael Tait founded his company in 1978, we didn’t use the experience word for everything. But boy did he and his team provide experiences— like U2’s 360° tour and Metallica’s Freeze ‘EM All show in Antarctica.
In 2014, TAIT spun off Rock Lititz and explained it as a one-stop shop for live experience collaboration, with design, manufacturing, engineering, and rehearsal spaces all under one roof. TAIT continued to buy aligned companies; In 2016, it was productionglue, a US-based experiential agency. In 2019 TAIT acquired Brilliant Stages, a staging design and production company, and Kinesys, a global provider of motion control technology products for the entertainment industry. In 2021, my theme park partners in crime at Marc Plogstedt’s seminal company ITEC joined the TAIT Group. Now in 2022 it’s Thinkwell.
My own theme park aka “experience” design history goes way back to another century. Thinkwell always seemed a unique, but at the same time inevitable, evolution for the industry I was a part of. Thinkwell self-describes now as a global strategy, experience design, and production agency specializing in master planning, design, and production of destinations, attractions, interactive installations, events, spectaculars (yes, that’s a thing) museums, expos, and exhibits around the world. Other companies do this too, but really it’s not very many of them. Thinkwell boasts nearly 2000 projects in 20 years in 28 countries, and if you could see these projects, they are each complex and one-of-a-kind.
These kind of design companies are by definition doing things no one has ever done before—that’s the literal job. So they attract a band of multi-disciplinary creatives and technologists who are not only unique as individuals but in the way they collaborate among worlds.
At Thinkwell that means founders Craig Hanna and François Bergeron. Bergeron has maintained a decades-long relationship with Cirque du Soleil and thinks like the sound designer/technical director/producer polymath that he is. As Chief Creative Officer, Hanna holds three patents and a 30-year track record of blazed trails and leadership not just in creativity but in community, serving as president of the Themed Entertainment Association. It means longtime collaborator now partner and CEO Joe Zenas whose experience goes back to projects like the Atlanta Olympics and forward to Harry Potter attractions.
And of course they don’t do it alone. The team of past and current collaborators now is huge—and in my years of crossing paths with them I have met many talented and lovely individuals (special shoutout Michael Finney). I hope they will all thrive under this new move.