The second round of the series, recorded in late 2014, features Erich Joiner from the design firm Tool, Dave Bullock from the crowdfunding site CrowdRise, and Peter Lunenfield from UCLA talking about the power of media in design. The first panel features the 3x3 group: YO | LAI | DO event, featuring Yo Santosa (Ferroconcrete), David Lai (Hello Design), and Chris Do (BL:ND). This transmedia trio presents projects from the fields of branding, web, and motion design, touching on the challenges of running their own firms and the importance of story, inspiration, and constant evolution.
Art Center professor and lecture series leader Petrula Vrontikis guides both panels in round-table discussions about managing client expectations, overcoming professional uncertainty, and much more.
Skill Level Intermediate
(soothing music) - We're really pleased tonight to have with us Yolanda Santosa, David Lai, and Chris Do. They all are owners of their own companies, founders of their companies. And they're all in some really interesting new adventures. Some entrepreneurial, some other business adventures and they think they really represent the trans-media kind of designer that Nick and the faculty directors, and your faculty are trying to say are part of the future of design.
So we'll start with David Lei, and he is the co-founder of Hello Design. Primarily known for interactive, but more recently getting involved in motion and some branding. And I think one of the more interesting things is David also being known in the community as a really, really sharp business person. And we're really, really proud to have him join us. His clients include Herman Miller, Tillamook, Nike, Simple Human, MOMA, Toyota, Sony, and Speedo.
We look forward to seeing more from David Lai. Please welcome him. (applause) - Hello. So my topic is on a very simple sort of belief. One of the founding principles of Hello is "Do good work and everything else happens." So I wanted to just share with you some of our story. So a long time ago, I started Hello with a guy named Hiro. So Hiro is my business partner, he's another creative director.
We started at another design firm where we met and we became partners in '99. We started with our first client, which was The Getty Museum. This was us back then. In our first studio. We literally only had black and white cameras back then. And this is what it looked like when we first started. It was literally him and me just eating lunch at the counter together. But very quickly we sort of said let's sort of define our mission.
And the mission was really simple. It is Do good work, like I said. The second was work for diverse and interesting clients. The third was to learn new things everyday. And the fourth was to stay small. So this was sort of our belief, that if we did these four things, everything else would happen. And sometimes people ask "What's everything else?" And this is sort of how we define it. So it's more work, it's new clients, it's great talent. We want to work with you. It's collaboration with other great talent. It's winning awards. It's getting press.
And of course money as well. We outgrew our first studio within six months, and it looked like this, basically. Believe it or not we actually brought some clients in here. And I think they were just like shocked. Like what kind of work environment this was? But we were so slammed we didn't even think about it. So we moved from the smallest space in our building to the largest within that first six months. Dogs were welcome. We made our own ping pong table because we couldn't afford one.
So you can see there, just two saw horses and a piece of plywood can do miracles. And this was the second studio that we moved into within that first year. So after 13 years in that studio, it was time to move again, and so we went and found this space which was pretty much built out. We though, aw this is the perfect space for us. We didn't get this. We actually lost that to somebody else. But this was the space next door. Which wasn't quite as attractive. And, you know, it had water on the floor.
But one thing that we learned out of this is design is design. And we literally designed every studio since we started. From that smallest space, when it was just Hiro and myself, to the second space. So we thought, why don't we do it again? So what we did is we sort of took it as sort of a good opportunity to sort of see potential where other's didn't. And so this is what it looked like after we cleaned it up and started working on designing it. Designed everything, the tables, integrated data and power, just started building and designing the space ourselves.
So this is what it looks like, well, not quite this nice now. It's a little bit more messy. But this is the space. Yes, this is my Star Wars toy. And that as well. So, anyways, that's sort of a quick run down. Jeez, this is like now our 16th year. So I'm gonna try to share with you things that we've learned over that period of time. So hopefully you can benefit from some of our mistakes and some of our successes. So the first thing was make useful things.
And this probably applies more just in general to our work when we talk about "do good work," what does that mean? You could try to create things out of utility. This is one of our clients, Tillamook. They make great cheese, they make ice cream. And we had a simple concept, which was, I'm not going to go into all of the details, but the short example is this concept called "Tillamook Time" where basically we found that if you're hungry and you serve the right kinds of images and recipes at that time, you're more likely to want to eat that food.
So when you wake up, the computer knows if it's breakfast time, and it'll serve you breakfast. If you come at lunch, it will serve you lunch recipes. If you come at dinner it'll serve you dinner, and if it's after dinner it'll serve you dessert. So this simple idea of sort of creating something useful with some context actually was very successful. We've actually evolved tillamook.com now, which basically knows everything from GPS, time of day, day of week, to the weather. So that when you come to the site it'll actually tell you things, like it's raining outside.
Maybe you want, like, tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Or there's, you know, the Tillamook bus is in town and you can come and try some free cheese. So we've started to create things that are more useful for people. If you've never done it before, even better. So this is a core philosophy that we're constantly doing things we have no idea how to do. This was a project for the LA Phil when Gustavo Dudamel came to town. We created an app basically. It uses the accelerometer in the iPhone to make it a conductor's baton.
So basically, you choose a piece of music and ... (loud brass instruments) it'll hold the note so if you stop moving, (music tempo slows) So anyways, the idea there was that people have no idea what a conductor does and so try to give them a sense of that and letting them sort of experience it for themselves. It's great. The challenge, of course, is we had no idea how to do that when we pitched the idea but we just figured it out.
This other idea, sometimes you have to fly under the radar, is a very simple idea. Sometimes you have to just do something great and especially when the expectations are fairly low and the client doesn't even know what you're doing. The client here was Herman Miller. We were basically trying to help acquire new customers that were more client-facing versus business-facing. And so we came up with this idea, called "Design for You". Long story short is we commissioned five artists to paint five Eames Rocker Chairs.
Create one-of-one chairs which we would give away online. I'm giving you the really fast version, but it's sort of like Groupon, where there's a tipping point. And if a certain number of people sign up, then you can win that prize. If people don't, then nobody wins the prize. So we wanted to give people an incentive to refer friends. So that was the idea. And so this is a short film that we shot of the artists actually making the chairs. We wanted to show sort of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making these chairs.
And then this content, obviously, was seeded out onto the internet, through blogs, through our site and so forth. And then we had a lot of press. Fast Company, Apartment Therapy, a lot of people wrote about it without us really asking them to. And so it drove a lot of traffic to this little site. You had to sign up in order to win these prizes, basically. And the idea was that the prizes would get better every week and if you signed up early, you'd have a chance to win all the prizes. If you signed up late, you'd only get a chance to win whatever was left.
So these were obviously our grand prizes and so we sort of wanted people to know that that they were really somewhat sort of special. That's Andrew Holder, and Art Center graduate, by the way. So some really interesting artists. I'm gonna sort of skip this in the interest of time. But we ended up getting really diverse artists. We had Phil Lumbang who had worked for Shephard Fairey. Mark Giglio, Josh Cochran who also is an Art Center graduate. And they created some beautiful chairs that I would have loved to keep.
So, unfortunately, we exceeded our sign ups within the first week. So all the prizes were unlocked very, very quickly. And so a great way to get people to engage. This other concept of always bringing ideas to the table is a very simple idea. You know, when you go to a client like Speedo, we're not sitting there waiting for them to tell us what to do. So we're there to add value, we're there to sort of bring ideas that can help solve problems. And so, in this case we wanted to leverage our Olympians in a way that they had never been leveraged before.
The Olympians were always used in beautiful catalogs and photography, but we did something very different. Which is we actually paired them up with artists to create one-of-one caps that were exclusively sold online. And then these caps would only be sold to raise money for their individual charities. So these are some sketches of some of the cap designs of some of our artists. There's actually a lot of meaning behind these, but I won't go into them right now, but they do relate directly to each one of our Olympians. This is some work form Dave Kinsey.
And then this is the final packaged caps. And then we shot 'em in the water, swimming, wearing their caps. And shot a lot of short film. - Five Olympic swimmers. - Five celebrated artists. - Creating limited edition swim caps. - For five worthy causes. (uplifting piano music) - Get yours today before they're gone.
- So we sold out of all the caps within the first week. So basically the idea was not only to bring awareness to their charities, they were very personal. One of them had a heart surgery, for example, at fifteen, was told never to swim again. She didn't listen to her doctor and she went on to win a couple gold medals. Another one of them, Cullen Jones, almost drown when he was five so his mom enrolled him in some lessons the next week and obviously that paid off. So the stories are actually very personal. This other sort of idea of making things even if you aren't getting paid to, I think is an important one, especially as creatives.
We're often sort of struggling with like "Oh, but that's not in scope" or "You have no money for that." But what happens when you don't think about those things and you just sort of do it. So this is a quick example. We were shooting some short films for Herman Miller. We happened to be in town. We asked if we could go to the Eames factory. They said yes, but they didn't actually ask why. And we just shot that for fun. Six months later we were working another project for them and they're like "Aw, we wish we had this video" "to show the craftsmanship of all our collection, "and Eames chairs." And we're like, oh yeah, we actually did that already.
And they're like "What?" So this and example of, and I won't go through the whole thing, but (guitar music plays) we did this just because we had the opportunity to. And you know at the time it wasn't because of money, it wasn't because of anything other than we had an opportunity to. We were there. And we knew at some point we were anticipating their need, that there would be a need. We already knew that was gonna happen, it was just a matter of when. And so I think that's important, when you believe in an idea, you have a vision sometimes you have to make it happen versus waiting for them to come to you and ask you to do it.
Anyways, I'm gonna keep moving, 'cause I'm running out of time. And the last thing is tell stories worth sharing. So this is something I think we really, really try to do each and every day is that we're moving in an era where you're constantly being interrupted by stuff, whether it's in advertising or in media, we are getting more and more sort of numb to it. And I think that sort of example is just go to Times Square and you're just bombarded by some much stuff you don't even know where to look anymore.
I think stories, though, are a little different. They're a way for us to share experiences and to sort of pass on culture. And so if we can find compelling stories then I think we can really sort of start to do some interesting things. So this is an example of a project we did called "Why Design for Herman Miller?" We actually pitched an idea of going and shooting eight of their designers around the world and really sort of asking them a simple question. Which is "what are you passionate about?" We actually didn't ask them to tell us behind the scenes stories of a product or chair.
This trailer is not going to really reveal their answers because then we'd be giving it all away. But the answers were pretty surprisingly diverse. From surfing to a guy who has a horse farm who's a graphic designer, to the ballet. Just really amazing stuff. One of my favorites is a guy named Irving Harper who was the design director for George Nelson. He's made paper sculptures in his home for nearly 40 years to relieve stress.
And they're amazing. So this is a trailer that sort of teased some of the stuff we captured. (upbeat music) - [Female Voiceover 1] Design is imagination. And if you can imagine something, you can make it happen. And if you have a good idea, you can convince other people of that good idea. - [Male Voiceover 1] There is also moments of "That's the idea, time to go, let's try this, "let's build this, let's see if it crashes on top of me, "let's see if I can actually get through it." - [Mail Voiceover 2] Sometimes it's easy.
Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it takes forever. Sometimes it never happens. Let's face it, we all have stuff in the drawer we don't want to show anybody. And then there's the other stuff that museums accepted into their collection which is terrific. - [Female Voiceover 2] Yes, one German word, it's called "einfach," it's simple. But not too simple. - [Male Voiceover 3] If you're a curious person like I am, you're constantly chewing away on this visual language that surrounds you.
- [Male Voiceover 4] So a great meal is not just great food, but it's great companionship. A great piece of design is something that allows people to be together. - [Male Voiceover 5] I would never do any sketching in advance. I work directly from my head to the finished piece. I would just sit and dream about it. - We're working through the design process which is very much a series of conversations. What comes out of it is a sense of equilibrium, because the process, the result, essentially is holding those two points of view.
Some of your best parts. (upbeat music) - Okay, so I think I'm out of time but thanks. (applause)
Q: This course was updated on 05/22/2015. What changed?
A: We added a new chapter, featuring new talks by Erich Joiner from the design firm Tool, Dave Bullock from the crowdfunding site CrowdRise, and Peter Lunenfield from UCLA.