It’s Nice That partnered with DEMO Festival earlier this month. Taking place on 7 November 2019, DEMO (short for Design In Motion) took over every screen on every platform of Amsterdam Central Station for a full 24 hours. We headed over to take a look at the dazzling show, which was initiated by Studio Dumbar (part of Dept) and Exterion Media NL.
Amsterdam Central is the largest railway station in Amsterdam. A major international hub, it’s used by well over 150,000 people every day. Its building was designed by Pierre Cuypers – a Dutch architect also well known for designing the Rijksmuseum – and features an impressive facade, its prominent dual turrets providing a Gothic, palatial look. What better place to showcase the work of hundreds of motion designers from across the globe, non-stop, for 24 hours?
Taking place on 7 November of this year, DEMO Festival enabled exactly that. For a whole day, it saw short clips from the finest studios, designers, up-and-coming talents and art academies from around the world shown on the digital screens throughout the station. It’s Nice That curated an Hour of Nice, our contribution to the festival which brought together 31 creatives, all guaranteed to put a smile on your face. We headed over to Amsterdam on the day to check out the festival in person.
The premise of DEMO – to celebrate and give motion design a prominent platform – was truly felt throughout the building. On arrival, we wandered around the station, unfamiliar with its layout and unsure where to go. At one point, just by chance, we found ourselves in a tunnel flanked by shops, with a set of automatic doors at one end. On just the other side, we found what we were looking for: a series of floor-to-ceiling, ultra-HD screens. And on them, the work of several familiar names: Eva Cremers, Daan Rietbergen, TwoMuch, Warriors, Nejc Prah, Plus Mûrs and too many others to name.
People gathered around, some of them commuters who had no idea what they’d stumbled upon, and some of the members of the creative community who had come out to see their own work or support others. 2018 Graduate Daniel Spencer’s animation of a coffee plunger having a very nice time, in particular, was receiving a lot of attention upon our arrival and members of the public took turns adding the short to their Instagram stories, or sending it to friends.
Liza Enebeis of Studio Dumbar, who was part of the group that initiated the project, tells us: “There were literally hordes of people clustered around screens, just mesmerised by what they were seeing. It was hypnotic, everybody was just glued in place. There were participants who had travelled from as far away as Brazil, Canada, Japan, Austria, Germany, France, and the UK to see their work. Some participants came with their entire family. It was really an honour.”
These large screens also appeared in one other location in the station and throughout the 24 hours, they cycled through a selection of participants’ work, giving an overview of just some of the amazing contributions. Due to their size, these screens were particularly mesmerising, especially as the sun set. This was only amplified by the mirrored ceiling, which gave the illusion of them stretching much higher than they actually did.
While that was happening, every other screen in the station was also occupied, making 80 screens in total. These played a host of curated takeovers including the Hour of Nice, Type Only, Total Motion, Greyscale, The Message, Stranger Things, Slow Motion, Abstract, Better Than Real, Graphic and Illustrated. There was something especially nice about these screens as, while they were smaller in size, they featured on platforms and in walkways on the way to platforms, encouraging busy commuters and passers-by to pause and enjoy the visuals for even a short amount of time.
Not content with simply taking over every single screen in the station for an entire day, DEMO’s curatorial team – made up of Studio Dumbar’s Liza Eneibes, Koos Breen and Xavier Monney – also programmed a series of talks throughout the day. Taking place in the Royal Waiting Room, Liza kicked off the series with an explanation of how DEMO came to be. Following her was Jurriaan Hos, a motion designer, visual artist and director, who has worked with clients including Apple, Nike, Pepsi and Shiseido, but his talk focused on his creative process, his findings and his collaborations with Merijn Hos and Hansje van Halem.
An hour later, Xavier gave his first public presentation. A fave of ours here at It’s Nice That, Xavier homed in on the possibilities of combining typography and animation, an aesthetic he has championed – and helped define – for several years now. Following him was creative coder and designer Vera van de Seyp. Vera develops collaborative projects, participates in various creative coding networks, and teaches at ArtEZ while also working with emerging tech and creating her own tools. At DEMO, she delved into how she uses code, algorithms and machine learning to produce motion. Finally, it was Oskar op de Beke and Guy Grimmelt, who gave their two cents, with a presentation that explained how brands and publishers turn digital out-of-home into a medium that contributes positively to public spaces through audience collaboration and interaction.
In the evening, it was of course time for music and drinks and it seemed the whole of Amsterdam’s design community had turned up. All in all, it was in an inspiring and encouraging day. To see the work of so many talented creatives put in front of so many people who would have, in any other case, never come across it was amazing to see. What’s more, the fact that on a usual day these screens would be used to serve back-to-back ads made the whole experience entirely refreshing.
When asked what her highlight of the entire day was, Liza recalled: “The first minute – when the clock struck midnight and all the screens changed over to DEMO was a magical experience – the past two years we’d been dreaming of the moment and finally we saw it happen.” Clearly, the event was a success, for the people who took part, the people who stumbled upon but also for its organisers. “DEMO Festival confirmed that there is a need for such a manifestation in a public space,” Liza adds, “We need to continue DEMO Festival in one way or another…” That’s music to our ears!
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