D&AD Xchange 07

Posted by PH on September 07, 2007
Marshall McLuhan, Resonant Interval

Earlier this week my colleague John Hill and I attended this year’s D&AD Xchange 07 conference at the London College of Fashion. It was very well organized, very interesting, and we met a lot of nice people. Here’s my notes from the event:

Carlos Segura is a designer with his roots firmly embedded in old-school typography. He has an enviable track record of graphic design, a portfolio of which can be found at Segura Inc. This also includes links to his typography site T.26 and designer blank media site 5″ (amongst others). For me the highlight of his presentation was his work for stock photo company Corbis, especially the Crop series: rather than just present examples from their library in standard thumbnail format, he created large-scale diptychs printed on various high-quality papers where each pair of images tells a little story:

The juxtaposition of images was humorous, provocative, and sometimes outright shocking. I love this sort of thing, where meaning resides somehow in the space between the images, or as McLuhan would say, in the resonant interval. Best quote:

By doing what others do, you become invisible…

I also found Segura’s presentation interesting because of his use of background music. Normally I would advise students not to use music in this way at all, and I did find it intrusive (despite it all being chilled-out electronica). But in places it was successful: he started off the presentation with a couple of amusing anecdotal stories and these worked with the music, quickly establishing a very strong mood. Never say never.

Ulrich Proeschel of TBWA presented a case study of their marketing of Adidas during the 2006 World Cup Finals. He explained how the whole thing was based around a single idea, +10, and how this was extended out in a deliberate attempt to involve everyone in Germany (especially as the team was playing so badly before the tournament). The highlights of their campaign were a massive Oliver Kahn bridge over the autobahn leading away from Cologne airport:

And, rather than a billboard campaign, just a single huge image on the ceiling of a railway terminus based on the Sistine Chapel:

Needless to say, there was much discussion amongst the delegates about the worldview that sees branding and advertising as culture, a point which was driven home by Ulrich’s classic quote:

The World Cup was really a battle between Adidas and Nike, not 32 football teams.

Paul Priestman gave a presentation which showed off Priestman Goode’s fascinating work on large projects such as the interiors of luxury aircraft, cruise liners, and airport terminals.

Wayne Hemingway came across as a likable, intelligent, humorous, and very down-to-earth guy. However, he’s very much a one-off, and it was very difficult to take anything away that would be more generally useful: you had to be there. Best quote:

It’s all about being a human being that thinks!

Of particular interest was his discussion of our physical environment and the effect it has on behaviour, and his observation that most modern housing developments are simply the “slums of the future.” Hemingway’s design studio is here, and it includes links to his various other enterprises including the delightfully-named retro design resource, Land Of Lost Content.

Andy Hobsbawm and Ben Felton from Agency.com gave a presentation on their work for Ikea. As with Ulrich Proesel above it offered a fascinating insight into the advertising industry, but in this case it was all online stuff. Andy Hobsbawm kicked off with a run through Ikea’s ‘8 core ideas’ about their company identity, and he came across very well, talking intelligently and fluently about a range of new media issues. Best quote (which he acknowledged was from someone at Xerox Parc):

Technology is only technology for people who were born before it was invented.

Ben Felton then showed off some of their work, which to be honest I found a little dull, and a colleague found the “Brussels Sprout slider” on one of their Flash micro-sites quite hilarious. They also came in for a fair bit of stick from the delegates during the Q&A session for their unquestioning attitude to new media dogma. True believers.

There we have it. There were some other very good speakers, and I’ll be doing a couple of follow-up pieces on them individually. Ciao!

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