Christina Worner on founding Dada Projects and increasing visibility of womxn in digital design
With an aim to challenge conventions, the studio has worked on a host of commissions for Vogue Singapore, Nike, Selfridges and Adidas.
- Ayla Angelos
- 26 January 2022
When Christina Worner set up Dada Projects, she did so with one clear intention: to provide a space for womxn to get involved in CGI. “The gender imbalance has shifted over the few years, but it is still quite a male-dominated industry,” she tells us. “I see Dada Projects as a playground to get more womxn inspired to do 3D and work with us in a relaxed, comfortable, diverse and collaborative environment.”
Through this female-led studio, Christina is able to challenge conventions while working across a medley of specialisms including 3D design, animation, creative direction, production, new media, graphic design, motion design, AR and more. Throughout her career to date, Christina’s worked across a range of industries from commercial to cultural, fashion to tech for names such as Calvin Klein, Adidas and Balenciaga. After five years freelancing – and thus gaining the experience needed to go out on her own – she decided to launch the studio. “The female-led aspect is quite a big part of our identity, as it is, adversely, still quite a male-dominated profession to date. With the studio setup, we want to challenge diversity and increase the visibility of womxn in digital design.”
Doing just that, Dada Projects has already gained high esteem for its experimental approach to design, having worked with Vogue Singapore, Nike, Selfridges, YouTube, London Fashion Week and Freitag. The is partly down to its identifiable persona, where surrealism meets realism in a merging of strange, detailed and glossy environments. The studio, in this sense, prefers to take on projects that challenge traditional approaches to 3D animation – because, rather than mimicking something from the real world, it likes to do things a little differently. “I draw inspiration from anywhere in a state of nowhere,” Christina tells It’s Nice That. “Anything can be inspiring, from the greatest contemporary art exhibition to the most mundane object.” Whatever it is, so long as Christina is in a state of wonder, she’s able to find something interesting to draw from. “I can tell I am most creative when I give my brain the opportunity to be bored, no additional stimulus rather than, for example, perfectly rendered trees in the park.”
On any given project, Christina will usually spend a good week collecting, researching and diving deep in the “visual and textual fodder” on Are.na, “where I can get lost in the depths of individually curated moodboards while simultaneously thinking about how to rethink and expand the brief I received.” She prefers to take time with an idea, letting her subconsciousness work on the nuts and bolts, even if she’s sleeping. However, time constraints and shorter (or unpaid) pitches don’t always allow this. After this phase, she begins storyboarding before developing style frames. “Due to the time-consuming nature of 3D execution, it is always helpful to have a clear idea upfront before going into production.” She also uses Cinema 4D, Houdini and Unreal Engine.
Dada Projects’ portfolio is packed full, making it hard to pick out just one example of its output. But if Christina were to choose, she’d go for the work created for 121 Festival – a recent favourite that saw the studio work on the rebranding and 3D teaser for a three-day electronic music festival of the same name, based in New Zealand. “Being a passionate raver myself, it was fun to come up with a concept of how to make this music festival’s appearance and communication striking and compelling for potential festival enthusiasts,” she explains. Deciding to steer the identity by way of its location – i.e. the fields of South Wairarapa where there’s forest clearings, ancient Kahikatea trees and concrete bunkers – the outcome is a refreshingly bright and sunny foray into the landscape of the area. “We focused on detailed crops of indigenous objects from nature, showcasing their extraordinary textures in all their forms and colours,” she adds. “This was interrupted and interwoven with brutalist elements that we covered in reflective material, sparkling against and mirroring the natural fibres, creating a dreamlike captivating harmony of nature and brutalism.”
Nature is a prominent theme throughout the studio’s entire portfolio, meaning everything’s refreshingly biophyllic and green. What’s different to other works of its kind, though, is the studio’s interest in hyperrealism, play and tactility. “In my artistic practice, I have always been interested in bridging the gap between materiality and the digital realm addressing the sense and concerns of touch,” concludes Christina. “When does a digital texture become so real you feel like you can touch it? While there’s a big emphasis on CGI materiality in our work, we believe the beauty of 3D is the ability to bend what we perceive to be real. “
Dada Projects: 121 Festival (Copyright © Dada Projects, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.