No blog entries for a week meant a very busy agency life with two fantastic new (very) creative accounts, which I will share with you soon. No excuses here, instead I make up for it by sharing the most inspiring moments of today, which I spent at the Art Center College Of Design Conference in Pasadena, titled ‘Serious Play’, with you.
I registered for many reasons, but the title was not one of them, which left me entering today’s conference, in the critically appraised South Campus building (which students and faculty ended up loathing rather then loving since it is a great example of form over function), without knowing what I have to expect.
The ambiguous title soon started making sense as many creative kids end up becoming commercial artists (creativity + money makes parents and kids happy), nerds become rocket scientists, and the sneaky little ones end up becoming magicians. All of them were speaking today, from the Founder of the National Institute for Play to the professional Origami Virtuoso. Most were utilizing the topic, some, like Irene Au, Director of User Experience at Google – and supervisor of Geyrhalter Design Graduate Evelyn – disappointed slightly by giving company-centric speeches that were less inspiring as a whole.
Instead of giving you a boring write-up, I decided to share tid-bits with you that inspired me today:
First off a video that I had the hardest time finding online since it was just a filler in between speakers, but it was definitely a highlight for me.
A take away thought I scribbled down, not having noted the heritage:
‘Don’t go where there is a path, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail.’
Stuart Brown, who studied mass murderers and animals’ behaviours around the term ‘play’, said:
‘The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.’
An amazing thought, one that my good friend (and client, as well as New York Geyrhalter Design Contact) Gene shared with me the other weekend as we were having coffee. He said something in the likes of: ‘See some people get up on a Sunday, they brew a cup of joe and then spend an hour reading the papers. They love it. I get up, brew me some coffee and get s#!@ done on my laptop. I love it too. I don’t see a problem with enjoying getting stuff done.’
Not new (and I kept raving about their ‘ball’ ad in a long past GD Newsletter), but this Sony Bravia commercial seemed to work well as another filler in the ‘serious play’ conference.
It was stunning to see someone who made Origami not only into his full-time job, but also into a software that transformed it from an art form into a commercially used design tool, as seen in this Mitsubishi commercial. Yes, Robert Lang and his team built the entire set (all but the car) by hand.
The most insipiring presentation came from ‘the James Bond of Sleight-of-hand artists’, whose techniques have been compared by The New Yorker with ‘seeing Yo-Yo Ma practicing scales at Carnegie Hall’: Jamy Ian Swiss. It came as a surprise to me, but the similarities of subliminal messaging in design and advertising are extremely similar to the ones that transform a generic card trick into convincing magic. Like an actor, every little movement is perfectly staged, even the mistakes are carefully planned to take attention away from one side of the body (where the trick is being pulled) to the other, as the trick transforms into a pure form of art. It is the same trick/art that us designers use to make the spectator focus on a specific portion of the messaging in our designs. And it also is what differentiates an amazing designer from an amazing Creative Director or Presenter. Both need to understand and master the theory behind the art, but the CD needs to sell it, and then the acting role steps in, which most of the times sells – but sometimes also creates a little bit of – the magic. As Jamy would say, ‘Plan it out so that it makes it seem impossible, then pull it off with an even bigger impact’.
For the official conference blog, please go here.