27 Feb Field Notes from Design Indaba 2015 | Day 3
London-based South African fashion designer Sindiso Khumalo debuted her latest collection on the Design Indaba stage.
Day 3 of the Design Indaba conference was almost impossible to pick highlights from. The day began with Studio Formafantasma‘s awe-inspiring absolute dedication to and respect for the materials that they use in their products and ended with William Kentridge’s vast research into his latest large-scale work. Along the way we watched some incredible videos from Casey Neistat’s low-fi home videos to Yoni Bloch’s high tech interactive experiences, and listened to Dan Wieden’s personal chaos theory.
Wildly inspiring ‘Youtube Filmmaker’ Casey Neistat spoke about the virtue of ignorance – how not knowing how to do something can lead to new and original work or ways of working. He stressed the importance of ignorance as something to be nurtured in a creative environment rather than corrected, “When you are not taught the right way to do something, you are forced to forge your own path.” Casey has done this through making videos about what he knows, and what he cares about. Admitting to not knowing how to make a brand video for Nike, or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, instead he took the budget for these projects to create something that completely breaks the mould, and that was ultimately successful for himself and his brand partners.
To illustrate telling stories from your own life, Casey shared a three part ‘what happens next’ video series following a surprise visit to his girlfriend in Cape Town, getting married, and having their first child together (a highlight of which was definitely hearing her South African parents over the phone when he asked for her hand in marriage.) He said, “I don’t know how to write a romantic comedy. What I know are these experiences from my life. I know how to tell my story.”
Kenyan artist Ng’endo Mukii refers to herself as a ‘documentary animator’. Yellow Fever, her thesis film at the Royal College of Art went on to win awards and acclaim across the world. In it she focusses on African women’s self-image, saying, “I am interested in the concept of skin and race, in the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time. I believe that skin and the body, are often distorted into a topographical division between reality and illusion. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations, and distorting people’s self-image across the planet.”
The film is a mixture of hand-drawn animation, computer animation, pixilation and live action. At Design Indaba Ng’endo explained her considered decision behind working in this way:
Animation can be used to emulate something that is intangible, something that is humanity. It is our soul, unlimited by the preconceptions and expectations of a ‘real’ image.
Endless possibilities became apparent during Interlude co-founder Yoni Bloch’s talk about the interactive video technology he developed that’s creating a totally new way of telling stories online and transforming viewers into users. Used first for music videos, Yoni showed us some of the mind-bending results that they’ve created for brands. An interactive video for clothing brand Madewell allows people to choose outfits for the models in the video to try on. It’s a fun idea, but also one that’s bringing in valuable market research for the brand. Interlude’s authoring suite ‘Treehouse’ is taking things even further making it possible for anyone to design, publish, and create their own interactive video.
Look out for ‘Possibilia’ coming soon.
Emily Oberman from Pentagram has been designing for Saturday Night Live for twenty years. At Design Indaba she shared her latest work for SNL’s 40th anniversary season and explained her thinking behind it, “For this season we wanted the open to be a love letter to New York. The city is such an important part of the show we wanted to find a way to get the logo to be part of the city.”
Emily also let us in on the making of the ‘Saturday Night Live: The Book’, an amazing collection of archived images, trivia and stories behind SNL since 1975. As with everything SNL, Emily’s team only received the copy at the last minute, and so the layouts in the book were compiled visually making for some really interesting spreads.
Honest, passionate and profound, Dan Wieden spoke about starting, growing and running the largest independent agency in the world, Wieden + Kennedy. The heart and soul of the company, he says, is ‘fail harder’. He told us that you have to be willing to fail if you’re going to do anything worthwhile. He also spoke about the importance of agency culture and how as an organisation you have to allow your team to feel empowered about who they are to produce great work. Another vital factor to retain in a creative company is chaos. He said that chaos does something that order can’t. Chaos asks stuff of you that order never will. It reveals shit that order tries to hide. It engages you. Chaos is the only thing that honestly wants you to grow. It’s the only thing that demands you make something that matters.