An Interview with Sol Polo, coordinator of the fadfest on Open Design and Shared Creativity
Before I leave for China, I want to share this interview with you. There’s been a lot going on in the conference circuit with many people I know at the NEXT and Re:Publica and Ignite in Berlin and a lot of planners joining interesting evenings like Google FireStarters and conferences in London regularly. And there’s been quite some talk about Weavers, New Aesthetics and other things around that theme.
Now there’s something going on in Barcelona that’s less directly related to advertising, marketing, planning on the one or pure geek-ness on the other hand, but something that brings together all kinds of fields of arts and design. As it happens, a friend of mine is coordinating this (ha, not even a PR sell necessary), so I thought I should do a little interview.
I got to know Sol during our time at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Sol was from Barcelona and studied art, I studied business there and took a Spanish course (yes, in Vancouver). We somehow met and stayed in touch and now it seems our parts are crossing again, this time because of shared interests – in collaboration and creativity. Sol is coordinator of the FAD Barcelona, a conference I’d love to join and maybe will, if I don’t get back from Asia completely broke
What does creativity mean to you?
Well, creativity is my motor and imagination is the fever that drives me to run further and further (a quote that got stuck in my head from the novel WE by Yevgeni Zamyatin, which is actually a satire of a collectivist state in the future!) that’s why my aim is to get involved and involve people into projects specially linked to creativity and imaginery and its links with thought and cultural development. If you ask me what I think creativity is, I would say that the ability to reuse, remix and reinvent to create something that seems new but actually isn’t.
What did you personally find really interesting about the conference?
First of all, as I am curious of many things I like the conference because of its multidisciplinarity. I think it’s good to take a look at your own field but also to be aware of what’s happening to the neighbours. Creativity sometimes comes from being able to mix disciplines of all kinds. What I also find very interesting is the opportunity to explore how the maturity of digital technologies and social networks have impacted in very similar ways not only economy, politics and social life, but also art, design, architecture, advertising and all cultural practices. At the same time we see how the internet is changing the way we understand politics or economy (some examples would be the occupy movement or wikileaks), we can see how it has also had an impact on culture, with emerging practices and new ways to create, produce distribute and consume. It is an issue that is extremely latent right now, with huge potential, but still, very few developed. We still have a long way to adapt the whole system to this new scenario, but I think it’s very challenging, positive and necessary to rethink some structures. Structures that were more vertical and will have to get more horizontal, even if that’s a very simplistic way to describe it. But that’s what the conference will talk about, the impact of emerging practices such as open source, collaboration, sharing, co-creation, delocalization, creative commons licensing, and so on.. facilitated by a networked culture in the fields of industrial design, graphic design, architecture, art, fashion, law, museology, innovation, financing, advertising, literature and publishing, to list a few.
What are the promises of open design for society?
End users or consumers to become producers, bring manufacture to the domestic sphere, reutilization and optimization of resources, accessible opportunities for developing countries, delocalized and decentralized production and distribution, new working methods, participatory culture…
Does the current political and economic climate have an effect on the design discourse?
It’s not that the current political and economic climate has an effect on the design discourse, it’s the Internet’s disruptive nature and the maturity of digital technologies and social networks that have impacted politics and economy as much as design and any other field.
What are great examples for open design / collaboration and its implications and impacts?
Well, as coordinator of the conference, and thanks to its director, Viviana Narotzky, I’ve come to know great examples of open design and collaboration. I could use many many lines of this interview to explain some of them, but this is the purpose of the Conference, so if you are curious about them, I really recommend you to join! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to be mean or lazy but all lectures will present great examples of that. In fact, the opening conference by Alastair Fuad-Luke will discuss exactly this issue, the implications and impacts of Open Design. Later on, Pieter Jan Stappers will adress the new roles that both designers and users need to develop to adapt themselves to this new scenario. As for examples: James Bridle new aesthetic, Droog’s project Design for Download, Art is Open Source project Roma Europa Fake Factory, Europe’s first crowdfunding website Sponsume, the fashion collaborative platform Openwear.org, Ele Carpenter‘s Open Source Embroidery project, Urban Labs like MediaLab Prado, Museums that are opening their archives like Fundació Antoni Tapies, Victor Viña’s approach to open design from social design through DIY practices, Aitor Mendez graphic work to escape authoritarian and centralised methods, new forms to license design, collaborative work as a tool for innovation and the potential of Digital Fabrication Labs to print all kind of things, from chairs to kidneys.
How do you see the relationship of disciplines like advertising, art and design?
They are all related one to another, they feed each other and they are all revolutionized by this scene. FAD is a partnership of 5 associations made to promote all disciplines of art and design (Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Architecture, Art and Fashion) but it also counts with a european association of Art Directors and Advertisers. The conference, therefore, was made to gather all this disciplines to discuss about one issue concerning and relating all of them. Regarding the discipline of Advertising, that may interest your readers more, we are developing two experiments through Facebook and Twitter created by the advertising agency *S,C,P,F… that relate advertising, art, design, social networks and collaboration. One of them involves the creation of a poster collectively between 12 design studios, and the other one gives a chance to twitter users to experiment cocreation using their tweets (this one is about to be launched on a microsite! Stay tuned!). The result of this experiments will be presented at the closing party.
What can we expect from the conference? How is it going to be set up (lectures, interactive stuff, … ?)
I’m sure all conference participants will get home with their “hat full of rain”. Not an actual rain as we expect to have a wonderful summer sunny weather, but a rain of new ideas, practices and inspiration. The conference will take place at the CCCB’s new theatre venue, which is an amazing building in the heart of the old city, next to Barcelona’s main cultural institutions: FAD, MACBA, and Barcelona’s new cinematheque. The conference will feature four keynote lectures, one workshop, two panels of open platforms, one panel of open practices, two round tables, some debates and a more distended closing party at the historic brewery “Fabrica Moritz” recently renovated by Jean Nouvel. In case you were wondering, the workshop will be more “oldschool but cool” rather than interactive, by exploring participatory production and distribution in the digital world through traditional embroidery stitching. All participants will stitch on a patch some part of the text ‘A Concise Lexicon of / for the Digital Commons’ by the Raqs Media Collective. The term that will be embroidered in Barcelona is called “Ubiquity” and reads:
Why would you fly over from London or Berlin?
It is a very interesting and unique event. It will gather some of europe’s greatest examples of this new and latent open design culture and collaborative innovation in the field of art and design. If you are a student you have a very advantageous price. It is a great excuse to visit Barcelona in one of the best times of the year. If you are lucky enough to stay some more days in the city, you may attend other FADfest events such us the prestigious Laus or Delta awards,, the exhibition “The Best Design of the Year”, 30+30, “The Making Of” or the catwalk of emerging fashion talents “Opera Prima”.
Anything else to add?
Still not sure if you want to join? Check out some randomly highlighted conference topics…
Open Design Culture, from new business models to the most experimental creative practices.
Platforms for collective work in design studios, fab labs, cultural & educational institutions.
Everywhere-ness, the capacity to be in more than one site, ubiquity.
New ways to create, produce, distribute, license and consume.
Design for download, a platform for downloadable design.
Embroidery as a tool to investigate participatory production and distribution.
Strategies that may bring graphic design closer to the social domain.
Informal economies of emerging countries as a model innovation.
Globally networked information society Vs social implications of the new technologies
New cultural institution models that will allow new forms of encounter and collective action.
Simplified stories that need to be messed up to stay useful.
How crowdfunding can be combined with crowd-sourced creativity.
Anthopocene, a new geological epoch as a result of unprecedented levels of human activity.
Remix, fake, recontextualization & plagiarism as tools for the systematic reinvention of reality
Emerging design practices for positive societal impacts.
Dissemination and reappropriation of all technologies, theories and practices.
Commons-based peer production Vs market based firm production.
Relation between the digital and physical worlds.
End-users empowered to inform, inspire and take over design and production.
A fake cultural institution enacting real policies for arts, creativity and freedoms of expression.
The power of multiplication.
Industrial design and its relations to the Internet revolution, education and consumerism.
Virtuality and the clowd.
Introduction of personal manufacture into our quotidian lives.
Technology, science and innovation as the motors that transform businesses.
Your opportunity to intervene! Join the conference at www.congres.fad.cat.
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