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Six thoughts on creativity, technology and saving the world by D&AD President Andy Sandoz

Vince Frost begins Sandoz’s series of D&AD Lectures in London this evening by speaking about how design thinking can improve our everyday lives. Later lectures in the series include talks from Greenpeace and on ‘designing cities for life’.

Sandoz has built his career creating work that is technologically innovative (examples of his work with Randommedia, Agency Republic, Work Club and Havas Work Club, stretching back to 2002, are shown below), and Work Club also created the D&AD White Pencil in 2011, the organisation’s first new award for 50 years and the first to focus on socially responsible work.

Here are six thoughts from him on how the creative industries can change the world for the better:

Sandoz on Technology

“I’m not really a zealot for technology – people think I am because I’m a digital guy and I’ve used a lot of technology and I like to play with it. Mostly, I’m just not afraid of it, because I’ve been around it for so long. I don’t really know how it works, I just don’t care how it works. I think I can probably mess with it, and generally I can get someone quickly who does know how it works to tell me how I can unpack it. So the attitude isn’t comprehension of tech, it’s freedom in the culture of tech. Go play with it and it will release more ideas. So the narrative that I bring with D&AD is to use technology to release ideas.”


Microsite created for PlayStation by Randommedia in 2002, featuring an early example of gestural control where mouse gestures, rather than clicks, are used to control the site

Interactive video work by Work Club for the BBC in 2003, titled Excess All Areas. A participant was given various drugs and users could then watch and see how they affected his body
Interactive video work by Randommedia for the BBC in 2003, titled Excess All Areas. A participant was given various drugs and users could then watch and see how they affected his body

Sandoz on how the world is imperfect and comms should embrace this

“What tech does best is beta an idea, test it and keep an idea alive. So perfection is a bit of a challenge. I think there’s a fundamental issue with the way that we approach an idea, which means most of our good work sits in the cupboard rather than being out there and being tested in the world, and failing and growing and developing. A tech company like Instagram probably didn’t start out like it finished – it’s not even finished. Facebook was very different, as was a browser, as was anything. Whereas a comms ideas must be perfect when it’s released because of the history of print and film. You only had one go – you basically packaged one idea and then you put it in a million media slots. The package had to be perfect. But that’s no longer the case in digital because the package is alive. So you have to write for a world that is imperfect.”


Sandoz on judging digital in awards shows

“It’s very, very difficult. I don’t think it’s something you fix in a year. I think we have to change the way we think about ideas and the way we launch ideas and the way ideas live in culture, but that’s a big shift. It isn’t going to shift easily, because business doesn’t shift easily.

“The lecture series for D&AD won’t be about technology, it will be about the world that technology offers us. That’s the point about not being a tech zealot, I’m much more interested in what technology can do for me, rather than the tech itself. It’s never been tech for tech’s sake, and I certainly don’t want D&AD to be that, because the bigger picture is the world and what we can do.”


Microsite for Mercedes from 2006 by Agency Republic

Site for McLaren F1 by Work Club from 2010, which featured live data from the F1 car on the track, allowing fans a much closer view of what the team saw
Site for McLaren F1 by Work Club from 2010, which featured live data from the F1 car on the track, allowing fans a much closer view of what the team saw

Sandoz on gender inequality in the industry

“I’ve known for a long time that if I have a creative department that’s got too many blokes in it, the ideas tip in a direction and it’s a locker room before you know it. I guess if I had one the other way, it would tip as well. What I want is equilibrium and balance, of characters, tonalities, sexes and attitudes and things like that. I’m looking to write the benefit rather than the problem.”

Sandoz on how creativity makes for better business

“It’s frustrating that the creative industries have to defend themselves to business about their efficacy, when if you look at the best businesses, they are winning because of their use of creativity, their use of design, their use of the creative skills…. The creative industries have considerable influence on the success of this country, yet we must defend creativity as being something more than just a bit of a fluff around the edges. That’s ridiculous. D&AD’s remit is fundamentally to champion creativity, and in doing so we’re the champion of creativity in commercial circles because we’re not for art, it’s creativity for commercial aspects. I do feel it is in D&AD’s remit and responsibility to elevate this message and propagate a stronger message of efficacy for what we do.”


Programmable T-shirt for Ballantine’s, created by Work Club in 2012-14


Whisky glass that can be used in space, created for Ballantine’s by Havas Work Club in 2015

Sandoz on how creativity can in fact save the world

“I do think that creativity can save the world, and I’m beginning to think maybe it has to. I feel very silly for saying it, but when I look at all the problems lined up, someone has to solve these problems, they’re not going to solve themselves. And it doesn’t seem that we’re addressing them yet, it still seems that we are slightly just hoping they’ll go away if we just carry on doing what we’ve always done. I think that technology – and any business with influence on brands – can begin to influence brands in the right direction and influence business in the right direction. Who else is going to do that, except the ‘influencing industry’? That is the industry of design and communications, that is our industry.”

Vince Frost is speaking at the D&AD President’s Lecture series tonight in London. To book tickets and for info on future talks, visit dandad.org.

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