Doreen Lorenzo spoke with Fri Forjindam in a Fast Company interview for her Designing Women series featuring brilliant women throughout the design industry. Fri Forjindam is the co-owner and chief development officer for global entertainment development company Mycotoo that is responsible for creating award-winning destinations, from theme parks and live events to museums and immersive brand experiences worldwide.
After being raised in Cameroon, West Africa, Forjindam moved to the U.S. during high school where she discovered her love for theater. That love for theater took her to New York where theater thrived but then she then found herself moving to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry. In L.A. she got a job as an executive assistant to the owners of a theme park design company. There, she got to listen in and understand how the executives were problem-solving, strategizing, and designing in the industry. This helped her develop a multidisciplinary skill set, work her way up in the industry and eventually launch Mycotoo with her two business partners.
Forjindam recalled Mycotoo’s humble roots starting off in a home garage with a vision to help passionate organizations and individuals create immersive worlds. But in less than two years they landed a contract to design a theme park in Dubai and grew from three people to more than 160 designers, artists, show set architects, writers, and engineers. Mycotoo went on to design two full theme parks and later leveraged their talents beyond the theme park industry. Mycotoo discovered themed entertainment as a new vertical for the company when they teamed up with the agency Giant Spoon to create a San Diego Comic-Con activation for Warner Bros.’ Blade Runner 2049 and later brought SXSWestworld to life in Austin during SXSW 2018. While theme parks are gated, Forjindam explained how themed entertainment is instead porous and immersive.
Just as the notion of what a destination is changed for Mycotoo, that definition evolved even further once the pandemic hit. The living room would become the new destination in the age of social distancing. “If that immersive sensibility is now coming to me in the comforts of my living space, that means I, as a consumer, am actually inviting or accepting that experience into my home. If this is the new paradigm, it’s a much more intimate form of delivering and sharing experiences and will become more of a lifestyle addition,” explained Forjindam. The pandemic made Mycotoo proactive, socially aware and even more politically conscious.
Forjindam ended her interview by offering advice to young designers. “That thing that keeps you up at night, that you’re really excited about, follow through with it and see where it goes. Don’t treat that nudging as a side hustle. Treat it as a calling, as a little knock on destiny’s door.”