Barcelona Cultura

“The ADCE European Creativity Festival represents the European cooperation in the world of design”, Ami Hasan, President of ADCE

Ami Hasan is chairman of hasan & partners Group and has been the president of the Art Directors Club of Europe since 2017.

P) What can we expect to find in this edition of the ADCE European Creativity Festival?

AH: I think that we've grown a lot. Last year was the first year we had an external curator, Kris Hoet, and this year he has had a bit more of time, and I think he has done a fantastic job on putting the programme together. I think there is a lot of interesting stuff: the return of investment for this festival is excellent.

P) Are there any must-see events?

AH: For me, maybe the most interesting is something we started working on a year ago called The Creative Incubator. There have been three sessions in different cities, and another one is coming up. There were around one hundred creatives participating, and I don't know how many countries and how many agencies, talking about the future of the industry, the agency model, and design. I am really looking forward to hearing about the results and what they’ve come up with.

All the workshops look extremely interesting. If I had to pick, I would choose Julia Blomquist, from Forsman & Bodenfors, who will be talking about something I know very well since I am from Finland and have been working in Sweden: “tillsammans”, “we do it together.” It's a form of cooperation; it is the opposite of internal competition, which is so common in our industry. I'd also like to see Conn Bertish, who is a cancer survivor and has a very interesting life. He is a creative director that has won many awards and he is going to talk about how to defend your ideas, how to make your ideas harder to be killed by either other creative directors, clients, or whoever kills your ideas.

P) What is the main objective of the festival?

AH: Something very interesting is that, even though ADCE is organizing this event, it is actually the local clubs that are making it happen. We have 20 countries collaborating, which is quite unique in the design and advertising world. It is not as centrally run as most festivals and art shows or events, it is more about the spirit of European cooperation, not a top-down organization but more like a grass-root movement. The ADCE Festival represents European cooperation in the world of design. The principal purpose of ADCE is to help the members and creative people get inspired by education, but represents, a beacon for a united Europe. In a cultural way, we need to collaborate. Whether we want it or not, we are thirsty for global business. We have to create some meaning and build confidence in European designers because even though they are all very different, they remain lone individuals.

P) Why is the motto of this year’s edition “Rewiring the Creative Machine”?

AH: It has to do with the transformation in the creative industry and The Creative Incubator programme that we started.The speed of change has never been this fast. A change in the whole industry because of digital disruption, the clients are changing, the techniques for reaching people, the use of data... The agencies are noticing these changes; they have to learn a lot of new skills and new trades to be successful in the future. What we are trying to do by spending a year in the Creative Incubator trying to find out what is really happening in agencies, clients,... and now we are trying to help the people who have come to the festival to understand the change and be prepared to take even more fast changes that are to happen.

P) Can you tell us something in advance about the 27th edition of the ADCE Best of European Design and Advertising Awards?

AH: The jury works completely independently: I cannot interfere in their work; nobody can. It is totally different at this festival because the presented projects have already been awarded at local shows. In other contests, at the beginning it is very boring because your main job is to try getting 90% of the bad work out, but here there is no bad work - it is all good work. It has already been awarded, so you just have to discuss what is good about the work and which project is better. And of course, because it comes from 20 different countries, there is a lot of local culture and local understanding, and usually just one or two judges understand the peculiarities of that culture. Then it is their job to explain to the other juries why it is so good. It is a tough competition.

P) Could you tell us a bit about the Art Directors Club of Europe? Which stage is the ADCE currently at?

AH: Even though its name is Art Directors Club of Europe for historical reasons, it is not just for art directors. It is for all kinds of creative people. In design and marketing communications there are a lot of collaborations with other creative people; we are open to all creative professionals. The purpose of ADCE is to enhance creativity and help creative people in European countries. But Europe is not one single thing, it is a bunch of different countries and a bunch of different markets. We work with the local clubs, every country has a local creative club, whether it is an art directors club or something else, and we try to listen and help them and their members. A year and a half ago, we offered individuals the possibility to register as members of the ADCE for free. And we now have more than a thousand members. The ADCE is evolving fast, so it is doing it the business of design and art creation and all creative businesses.

P) What does the future hold for ADCE?

AH: The markets are becoming more and more global, there’s a lot of technical development and new ways to express your creativity: 3D printing, virtual reality, augmented reality, and so on. We have to be vigilant, we must try and develop together with the market so as we can help our clubs and our individual members. It’s hard to predict the future, but we try to keep up with the time.

P) What’s the future of design in Europe?

AH: That is a good example for distinguishing what Europe is and what it isn’t. There is not something you can call 'European design' there is rather Nordic design, Mediterranean design… its areas, countries and markets are very different, but we still try to find the biggest common denominator. I would say the outlook of European design is a combination of them, where all the new tools somehow fit in. I can’t remember where it was, but the first 3D-printed bridge in the world was constructed! If you start thinking about the old techniques for designing and building a bridge, they were assembled. Now they do it 3D-printed, so you can use a lot more creativity and more forms and make it look totally different! Design is experiencing a very interesting era allaround the world- not just in Europe.

P) What about design in Barcelona?

AH: I think Barcelona’s design scene has always been very vibrant, there are a lot of things that are world famous.

P) What is your relationship with the world of design?

AH: I originally studied architecture and then I went into marketing communications and advertising, and of course, design, and especially graphic design has always been a very important part of marketing communications. I have always been a very big art and design fan and actually I just started a company called Hasan Editions, which is a PR and communications specialized in the lifestyle, fashion, design and beauty markets. I have sat on the boards of various clothing companies and began in the advertising business on the visual side, as an art director. Design has always been very dear to me. I tend to go to design and art museums wherever I go. I hope that I'll have some time to do it in Barcelona as well.

P) If you were to choose a designer of reference, who would you choose?

AH: That’s a tough question, there are a lot of good ones. Stefan Sagmeister is fantastic, especially in graphic design, but he also designs his concepts and exhibitions. I saw his exhibition and his speech on happiness. He closes his agency every few years and takes the whole agency somwhere to study something. I believe he went to Bali and started studying happiness and then they made an exhibition and an installation, and a speech with beautiful graphics about happiness. Another designer I think is in a class of his own is Paul Smith in fashion, especially in men’s fashion. He uses all the classical elements but twists them in a different way and makes them a bit more interesting.

P) What is your favorite piece or object of design?

AH: There’s a lot of new design that I always get excited about but then I always go back to the classics and the basics. Two of my favorite design objects are: first of all Adidas Stan Smith shoes. They've been around for forty years or so, and they keep doing some slightly small alterations but they still stay very relevant and nice. Second, and maybe because I’m from Finland, I have an old Marimekko canvas bag which I like a lot. The Marimekko Poppy design has remained relevant for years and years. They always change the colors a bit and then do something new but it still stays relevant even though it is a printed canvas with flowers on it, it comes back every year. I like small twists but I like the classics.

P) In a professional way, have you ever been linked to the Disseny Hub Barcelona?

AH: Last year was my first year as the president of ADCE and I came here for the festival. I think this is a fantastic building, very functional and very good for this festival and to hold events. I like it a lot. I can see why ADCE decided to bring the festival here, and our main office is also in Barcelona, so it is very convenient. As long as the festival doesn’t get too big, this building is ideal. However, I would love it even more if the DHUB built a big auditorium for 2,000 people, so we could fit even more people, I think this year we are able to fit around 700 people. Anyway, the building is very multifunctional, not only in its aesthetics but also in its form following function.

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