February 27th, 2015

The 8th FITC festival in Amsterdam took place this week, bringing together professionals, enthusiasts and innovators of the design and technology community.

The festival played host to a range of talks, one of which was given by Mill+ creative director Carl Addy, each with the aim of teaching people about design, development, creativity and much more.

Mill+ production coordinator Ben Burdock gives us a roundup of his festival highlights:

What were the overriding themes of this year’s event?

FITC is in its 8th year and continues to showcase work throughout the design and technology industries. Speakers annually attend from around the globe covering subjects including branding, interactive, illustration and animation. The overriding theme this year was how artists connect with their spectators using any medium or means necessary, with the speakers using increasingly complex techniques and approaches to create their work.

Who were your highlight speakers and why?

“Code & Creativity” - Steve Vranakis – ECD, Google Creative Labs

Steve Vranakis heads up the incredible creative studio that is Google Creative Labs. The studio hires 5 of the best designers and coders from universities for a year before sending them off into the industry. With Steve’s direction the studio has created an incredible range of work, which helped to show the power of Google’s products through innovation and experimentation. My personal favorite from the talk was the ‘Google Web Lab’, which was housed in London’s world famous Science Museum. The interactive piece allows museum visitors and people online to create music together through the use of a range of bespoke tools. In addition to this the installation showed a live feed of where people were logging in from, giving the piece an added layer. As well as this visitors were able to have their portrait drawn by a robot as part of a range of activities at the event. Check out the Google Creative Lab site for more awesome projects.

Google 1

“Behaviour” - Stuart Wood - Founder, rAndom International 

We also attended a talk by Stuart Wood, co-founder and partner at the multi-disciplinary studio rAndom International. Stuart and rAndom have worked on some amazing installation pieces over the years, including a series called swarm and the now world famous Rain Room, which is still being featured at major galleries across the globe. It was great to hear about the creative process and physical work required to complete such a groundbreaking project. For those who didn’t get the chance to visit whilst it was in London, Rain Room is a hundred square meter installation, in which it is possible to walk through heavy rain without being soaked in the process, through the use of highly sophisticated technology and construction techniques. The piece is also amazing aesthetically, with theatre like lighting adding to the experience as you walk through the space. After the success of this piece Stuart and rAndom are looking forward to the next project, which will be an experiment involving motion capture.

Random International 2

“Play By Your Own Rules - Jessica Walsh – Founder & Partner, Sagmeister & Walsh

Jessica Walsh is founder and partner at Sagmeister & Walsh, an internationally renowned design studio based in NYC, which she heads up with Stefan Sagmeister. Jessica’s talk set out to focus on how you can work best creatively as an individual and as part of a studio. S & W take a unique approach to their client work, which has helped them forge such a strong reputation across different industries. After taking the audience through some of their biggest projects, Jessica moved onto her personal work in a hope to emphasize the importance of working on both client and non-client based projects to keep it fresh. Jessica recently completed a personal project with long time friend and fellow creative Timothy Goodman, called ’40 Days of Dating’. After finding themselves single at the same time, they both wanted to try an experiment, to date each other for 40 days and record their experiences independently, through the form of videos, text and artwork online. The experiment drew in a huge online fan base and the project has even been picked up by a Hollywood studio to turn it into a feature film. The pair also released a book full of additional material and an extended background on the pair. Jessica continues to run Sagmeister & Walsh whilst working on a range of exciting personal projects.

Jessica Walsh 3

Are there any innovational trends we should be looking out for? 

A particularly cool piece of software brought to my attention during the festival was Autodesk’s 123D, which allows users to create 3D models from multiple images taken on a wide range of devices. Artists have used this tool to create amazing sculptures and abstract forms, and it will no doubt become one to watch for the future as it can only get better over time.

I really like the way in which the designers were honing so many different mediums to create work. A focus at the moment seems to be stepping away from the machines and creating work by hand, with amazing results involving typography and sculpture, as highlighted in Jessica Walsh’s talk.

The continuing use of 3D printing by artists was also a strong point at the festival. As the technique's use has become wider and the technology more accessible, artists have been able to create amazingly abstract forms to create sculptures and products, sometimes at a huge scale.

In conclusion…

I’d urge anyone keen on design, technology or cool shit in general to go to FITC in the future. The work on show really does open your mind to new approaches and possibilities within our industry, and it’s always great practice to take a step back and appreciate other artists, innovators and creator’s work.