D&AD 2019 Highlights

With this years fantastic festival drawing to a close, here are my top session of each day all in one place.

DAY 1 - The first draft of anything is shit - Alice Tonge (Head of 4 Creative)

To start off with, I love the work 4 Creative produces, and really like the rebrand they created last year. I think it works beautify, without being too different which would no doubt cause a lot of upset. I really inspirational rebrand project.

At Tonge’s talk today she began telling us about the identity they did for the Russian Winter Olympics is 2014, with their fearless #GayMountain ad (bellow), really brought gay rights to the front line, showing that we support it when there was very different views going on in Russia. Tonge used this example to explain her first point; Do the Obvious, then Do the Opposite.

The second tip was to Go Commando, by this she explained that when there is no brief, but you feel strongly about something, just do it. She used the #vote100 campaign which was a campaign celebrating how much has changed in 100 years since women have had the vote to explain this. This was not a brief set by Channel 4, but something they felt was important that it was noticed. The ad was created and Ch 4 loved it and took it on. However that there was no point having an idea and exciting it half-heartedly because its not paid, rather use the chance to make the most perfect thing you have ever worked on. Someone may bite, or at least it is a great way to as thinks to your portfolio of work.

Tip number three, Fail Harder. This was meaning be bold with your ideas and take risks, sometimes you will fall flat on your face… but sometimes it will really pay off. She said would you rather make something boring following the brief, or would you rather be bold and risky, possibly fucking up the brief, but maybe you wont.

Craft the shit out of it. Just because it is one thing, doesn’t mean it cant be many more. For the 2015 Grand National, 4 Creative fist of all, taking the first point off ‘Do the Obvious, then Do the Opposite’, they realised that all Grand National media always had the horse at the centre of attention, never the jockey. So to start with they focused on this. They wanted to get the rawness and grit of one of the most dangerous sports, and to do this they photographed jockeys immediately after the rase, where there was real blood, sweat and tears clearly visible. In doing this they noticed that men and women all compete together which I (and they) never knew before working on the project. Anyway, back to ‘Craft the shit out of it’. They created a fantastic identity for the Grand National, that was the brief answered. However they did it in such a stunning way that the portraits themselves, earned a place in the National Portrait Gallery for the photography alone! Truly stunning imagery.

The final tip she shared, was Think Bigger than the Brief. Channel 4 have always been a catalyst for taking risks, and being truly innovative across the UK television sector, so they are willing to do things that many other channels may not even dream about. Because of this they were open to some crazy ideas, allowing 4 Creative to really think bigger than the brief. This is clear when given the brief to get young people to get out and vote on the 7th of May 2015. They proposed shutting down the channel for the whole day, to persuade young people to get out and vote rather than sit inside and watch TV, anyone switching on that day will see friendly Darren.

Another example of when they thought bigger than the brief, was with the 2016 Rio Power Olympics games identity, where they famously took the work ‘disability’ and reimagined it to ‘superhumans’, with the fantastic and and song ‘Yes I Can’.

Final reflection: when sending work to a client, you should have butterflies. This is a way to judge if what you are sending is good, you care about it, and are taking a risk. It means you are probably doing something truly original.

DAY 2 - On freedom and risk - Edel Rodriguez (Edel Rodriguez Studio)

I was not previously aware of Rodriguez’s work, which is one of the best things I think about the D&AD festival, being introduced to things and people you did not previously know. Rodriguez is a Cuban born artist, who immigrated to America with his family in 1980, due to the revolution making it such a problematic place to live.

He is most famous now for his bold, often controversial magazine covers, especially for Time magazine and Der Spiegel, most recently for his work orientated around Trump and current affairs. He has now made about 150 magazine covers which he explains are designed as mini posters, as they do a similar job. They are made to capture the eye on a magazine stand from someone on the other-side of the room.

When ‘the whole Trump thing’ started happening in America, Rodriguez knew he had to do something for it. He begun designing images almost daily, posting them on his Twitter, Instagram and other social media, in the hope someone would pick them up. They did. Time magazine asked him to crate a cover, the outcome was ‘meltdown’. They then came back and asked for a sequel following the meltdown, which was ‘total meltdown’.

This sequel, completely unexpected by Rodriguez, Time asked for more, and more, and more, which lead to all of these… the style we all recognise, and instantly associated with Trump. Really fantastic story of creating off his own back, turning into the most recognisable imagery of the time.

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If all of this was not controversial enough, he also did a series of ISIS when that was big in the news in 2014. doing a number of incredibly powerful posters. One of them was a poster which was around the hype of the ice bucket challenge, he created an ISIS version called the blood bucket challenge, so while all the ice bucket videos were kicking around the internet he threw this into the mix, slapping everyone back to reality and to notice what is actually going on at the time.

His boldness and courage to do controversial, powerful art is inspiring. Not the political side personally, but the fact of making something so strong and so recognisable. With the trump imagery, this was so powerful and mostly all used only 4 colours, B&W, orange, yellow and red, that almost anything he designed using the colours was instantly associated with Trump. He decided to see how far he could ush this by creating a smoking pipe, which yup, sure was instantly recognisable, and fantastic with all the other things he created.

DAY 3 - Creativity and design at Heatherwich Studio - Stuart Wood (Heatherwick Studio)

As I mentioned, huge fan of their work. From siting in design classes back at school almost 10 years ago they have continuously created the most aesthetically fascinating buildings, furniture, bridges, the Olympic cauldron and then the new London route master bus. Taking limitations and designing things that fit within them, then owning them. Firstly, we have ‘moving architecture’.

The stairs in the London bus for example doesn’t have to be a grand experience… but it can be. Hetherwick designs the internal functions of the location/object, (in this case bus) to be as user friendly and pleasing as possible, which then influences the outside. This is the same on so many of their projects. Another insight into the design Wood was explaining was all the glass, which was used to maximise the view of the city, public transport is after all the best way to see a city. Weather you are rich or poor, you get the same view, this was designed to bring everyone to the same level of status. He pointed out that if you were going round the city in a Lamboghini, you are looking at exhaust pipes through a tiny slit of glass, however on the Routemaster, you get a beautiful, panoramic view of the city

Next he told us about the ‘super social space’ of Hudson Yard in New York City. This piece was absolutely breath taking. Surrounded by high risers Heatherwick was asked to make a piece of art in the park surrounding. The design they landed on, a 150ft high structure, 150ft wide at the top. The base was much much smaller in order to take up as smaller footprint as possible. The idea was rather creating a piece of art or sculpture, which people take a picture of and go home, they wanted to encourage people to interact with the piece.

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the structure provided light to the surrounding ground die to its warm, reflective cladding, drawing you in to investigate. Once you are in, the inside it is relatively urban, full of beautiful, repetitive staircases leading you up to the most stunning of views. The higher you climb, the greater the reward of the view is.

One of the philosophy of the Heatherwick Studio is to focus on the user, and all else will follow. Clearly evident in the Routemaster project.

The next project Wood showed was the project 1000 Trees in Shanghai, China. The first thought; when is a building a building? The location of the project is in an area which is surrounded by high-risers, super-urban, skyscrapers. Heatherwick decided they didn’t want to add to this unpleasant site and thought about how else a multi-use complex could be built… Buildings need beams, thats what holds them up, but the idea of this project was to use the beams differently. Instead of them being used conventionally, purely practically, they continued right the way through the building, coming right out the top. At the end of each beam, trees were planted, and the building elements sat inside.

Rather than adding to the concrete and industrial urban environment around it, this created two amazing artificial hills., where the complex was housed, making the whole area much greener. This style continued down one side, then the opposite side of the building was cut like a cross section, where the office areas were, like that of an ant hill.

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Wood explains that one of the main reasons Heatherwick Studios can create such mind-blowing designs is because the studio is run with holistic thinking. Meaning that the studio are involved with every element they need to consider from start to finish, rather than focusing on one section, with another studio/team on another and another on another, then sticking them all together at the end. When this is done it leads to some very incoherent outcomes, often not really working well in any aspect of the creation. If only we could knock the whole world down and have them rebuild it, we would live in a visually stunning, much more sustainable and environmentally aware world, building nature rather than tearing it apart.