Here is a one-day creative symposium of inspirational talks, experiments and live elements excellently curated by It’s Nice That. This year’s event took place last Friday in London and Larissa Elliott was there to soak up inspiration, make us really jealous that we weren’t there too and report back. Larissa works as an art director at M&C Saatchi Abel and runs the fantastic music video blog, nowscopitone.wordpress.com.
This is her experience of Here 2013.
For months now I have been anticipating this year’s Here conference in London – a feeling that still peaked as I stood in the registration cue at the one day only event. The Here conference is a creative focussed event started by popular website It’s Nice That. A site that is overused on my bookmarks bar. I asked the directors Will Hudson and Alex Bec what their intention behind the conference was, their response was:
“It’s Nice That exists to champion creativity and we do that through our online website and quarterly magazine but some content is best explained and presented by the people behind it. There are things that make Here so special, there are so many times where the things that get said or the insights offered would never work as well in an article online. This works both ways and our challenge is about finding the best way to tell that story.”
So at about 10am, an audience of about 600 creatives from not only the UK but also France, Spain, the States and South Africa (yours truly) sat down to hear some inspiring and entertaining stuff. There was a really diverse and exciting range of speakers billed that it’s difficult for me to narrow it down to just a few sentences.
A very warm welcome filled the room when multi-disciplinary designer Wayne Hemingway appeared on stage. His talk emphasized that “design is about generosity” and cited how critical it is that designers value their contribution to society. He is currently involved in several housing development projects. His approach was something I found inspiring – he did not start building housing first but rather looked at the area the houses would be settled in and how he could improve that instead. His reasoning was that people choose a place before they choose a home. He also referred to the sad emotional state of British youth and how it’s often connected to the state of their environment. He started rebuilding those areas with better playgrounds – something that can easily be adapted here in South Africa. Wayne’s talk really tapped into a creative’s sense of responsibility.
Next up was Es Devlin whose talk consisted of some very eclectic, big thinking. She detailed thoughts on human connectivity, mortality and the origin of ideas. Pretty weighty stuff for the average design conference. But when you see Es’ work, you understand why – her concepts are executed on such a massive scale. Her projects range from incredible performance visuals for Kanye West, Jay Z and Rihanna through to spectacular Norwegian and Russian Operas. She also designed the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony in London creating a stage based on the Union Jack flag. All are very dramatic and highly researched. Her ideas are quite layered and research is something she values greatly.
Then there was Kate Moross – a personal hero. Kate appears to be a bit of ’90s kid/neo-punk/Riot Grrrl disciple. Her approach is to dissolve limitations of skills, education, background and influence and just get on with it. “DIY” was a huge theme throughout her talk. She insisted on a no-excuse approach to creativity and was set to inspire the audience to “do whatever the hell it is you want to do”. Really refreshing and inspiring. And it’s an attitude that has totally paid off for Kate. Her skills range from music video direction, graphic design, illustration and jewelry design to now heading her own company, Studio Moross.
To counter Kate, we had mild mannered Mark Porter up next. He is responsible for the incredible and much awarded redesign of The Guardian newspaper. His rule was clear: “Always work with people smarter than you”. He prefers his studio small with a larger network that allows him to collaborate as much as possible on various projects. His work spans print media mostly and his studio currently works on many publications around the world. However, he emphasized the challenge that print media faces as it crosses over into the digital space. Mark doesn’t see it as a hinderance but as a great opportunity to create an exciting and bespoke experience for readers on a new platform. I really liked how he embraced this move in media, whereas many of us panic about it.
Then there was Adam Buxton. If you are not familiar with Adam Buxton’s work, do yourself a favour and Google it. That will pretty much sum up the experience of seeing Adam Buxton on stage – hilarious and slightly bizarre. He created two new songs in front of us. His skills on Logic Pro and vocals produced a reggae-esque track titled “Wednesday Shag”. I really hope it becomes available online soon. It must be shared.
We ended off the day with another longtime hero, Erik Kessels, founder of cult Dutch agency KesselsKramer. Even though his agency has achieved fame for their advertising campaigns for Diesel, Nike, the city of Amsterdam and The Hans Brinker Hotel, he is very anti-advertising. His agency functions beyond traditional advertising and extends itself to sculptures, publishing photography books, commemorative plates for the Royal wedding and other merchandise that can be bought at their KK outlet store in London. He also advised against looking at other advertising agency work for inspiration. He instead looks at everyday peculiarities such as amateur photography. Kessel’s peculiar collection of found photography has become the source for many of his agency’s publications.
There were several other speakers: Stuart Wood, creative director at rAndom presented their studio’s work which couples product design with engineering and introduces them into the art world. An example is their acclaimed project Rain Room. The “Willy Wonka of Science”, Nelly Ben Hayoun‘s latest achievement is the International Space Orchestra creating an opera based on reports from actual NASA launches. Photographic illustrator Sarah Illenberger’s playful work draws hugely on her personal bank of images she captures depicting everyday coincidences and visual puns.
It’s Nice That is a huge fan of illustrator Andy Rementer’s work – he was there to take us through his journey from his sketchbooks to his larger scale pieces, and his much loved strip “Techno Tuesday”. Rafael Rozendaal spoke about the internet as the canvas for much of his work and the criticism he often faces for it. Then there was CANADA, a music video directing group who admitted to often working for very little money saying that’s why each of their music videos has to be great because it’s often all they have at the end of the day. They showed us an offline edit of their new video for Phoenix and it amazed me how they managed to achieve every aspect of their very complicated storyboard.
The conference also featured the Here Reference library showcasing many publications by the speakers, a carnival cut-out by Andy Rementer, a table with several temporary sticker tattoos from SwissMiss’s popular Tattly iniative, and a very cool photobooth featuring a robot who art directs your shots. His name was Photobot. Or you could really just relax in the serene garden of the Royal Geographic Society where the conference was held.
Like many of these conferences, you leave inspired but exhausted. There is a lot to absorb but only a few things really resonate. For me, it was the rejuvenated love for my job and wanting to create work with purpose. I can’t wait to head there next year. If my credit card lets me.
More about Here:
Here brings together a vast array of the best practitioners and creative talent from the UK and abroad for a one-day, fast-paced festival of creativity. The speakers will be sharing their practice, process, ideas, and expertise with an emphasis on inspiration.