What is the summit of manliness? I think football players and soldiers are on top of the list. The fact that the Dutch army and Dutch football squad took part in the canal parade during Amsterdam’s Gay Pride was a real boost for everyone who fights for gay tolerance all around the world. In the Netherlands, we’re pretty nonchalant about it and even laugh it off, but yet again the foreign press was very impressed (especially by the football players). And with that, the goal was reached. Tolerance and freedom. Maybe our most important exports.
We live in an era of great cultural change. Also in our profession. Every good designer, art director, writer, strategist or developer is preoccupied with what his or her added value is. In the past, our industry was dominated by opportunism. The people with the biggest ego were the winners. It didn’t matter which client you worked for, as long as you could win an award with it. times are changing. More and more, I see colleagues – in the broadest sense of the word – who have started to think differently about it. People with a talent. And those that want to put that talent into businesses they believe in. That make their heart beat faster. That make them happy. And that’s when awards or honorariums become slightly less important – and when those ideas are more likely to be shared, and sometimes even given away. that’s a good thing. What Design Can Do is a two-day international event which takes place in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam on 16 and 17 May 2013. Conceived by Richard van der Laken and friends, What Design Can Do celebrates the power of design and its problem-solving abilities. And it exposes design as a catalyst of change and renewal, and a way of addressing the societal questions of our time. Every year, I connect to What Design Can Do. Simply because I, although i’m a writer, find it two of the most inspiring days of the year.
The biggest risk you can take is to not experiment. I think this thought typifies these days rather nicely. Since existing routes, systems and formats can stifle creatives, agencies and brands need to try something new. To seek uncharted terrain in the hope of discovering something fresh I’ve often found that if we try something new at Dawn, we stumble across something that we didn’t expect. A new solution? Let’s try it. A risk? Absolutely. Because if we don’t do it, we just end up sticking with what we know. This era calls for people to go on a journey. Forwards or backwards in time. All that said, up pops Jacco Gardner (1988), a Dutch producer/songwriter, just graduated from art school, who is conquering the world with his authentic interpretation of the psychedelic sound of the 60s. “Dutch wunderkind creates creepily lovely paean to late-60s baroque pop’ according to The Guardian.”
Storytelling has become an increasingly important part of our profession. And it’s also one of the hardest. You have to tell a story that people will want to look at – and one that also makes sense. Wieden+Kennedy is the King Midas of storytelling. Always able to give me goose bumps. Whether it’s the story of Detroit for Chrysler, or of the obese boy for Nike. Good stories, told even better. Now back to the Netherlands. Bram Schouw is a Dutch Director who, if he’s handed a good story, can create masterpieces. He’s not afraid to touch the right emotion. What would be mainstream by anyone else, or even kitsch, becomes something that hits the sweet spot when turned into film by Bram – especially when working with DOP Jasper Wolf. Keep an eye on this talent and take 10 minutes of your time to watch his short film Sevilla, for which he won a Golden Calf at the Dutch Film Festival.
I recently saw Wim van der Aar’s film De Van Waveren Tapes. It is yet more proof that the fine creative minds that inhabit the advertising world have more to say. For example, their own story. And a story that must be told. If we can give snacks, supermarkets, soup and mobile phones a face, we should also be able to bring to life the stories that really captivate and inspire us. Wim van der Aar is an award-winning commercial director – you can find his work here. But this film is a different kettle of fish. In 1996 he bought a box filled with random audio tapes at Waterlooplein in Amsterdam. He went through every tape and made a story out of it. There was years of work – and blood, sweat and tears – in it. And the result is a film that gets right under your skin. One that’s personal, intense and unique. You can find the trailer here. Apart from the fact that the film is very good, it’s a call to all of us: alongside your commercial work see if you too have more to say, and start inspire the world.
Usually street name signs in Amsterdam include the name of the district in which the street is located. In this case that should be ‘Centre’. But unknown banksyesque persons have declared Amsterdam to be independent. What makes some places on earth pull away from the rest? Is Amsterdam a free state? Why do creative, enterprising people feel at home in Berlin, NYC, Portland, Okinawa, Amsterdam etc? In cities where you have lots of free thinkers living together in a small space, it gives a nice vibrant feel and rise to a new culture, a fertile breeding ground for new initiatives. A perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs in the worlds of art, fashion, architecture, advertising, design etc to inspire each other and to experiment. And that’s only possible if you’re slightly separate from the rest, with your own rules and regulations. Those are the best conditions for inspiration. The big question is: is Amsterdam that kind of place right now? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.