A 3D-rendered Bookshelf from Wieden and Kennedy's Department of New Realities

9 May 2018

If you’re a regular reader of It’s Nice That, we’re sure you’re familiar with the advertising powerhouse Wieden and Kennedy (W+K). Founded by Dan Wieden and David Kennedy, the agency now has offices in Portland, London, New York City, São Paulo, Delhi, Shanghai, Tokyo and Amsterdam, the last of which is home to The Department of New Realities (DPTNR) which has curated the week’s (3D-rendered) Bookshelf for you to drool over.

Comprised of business director Kirk Johnson, creative directors Anita Fontaine and Geoff Lillemon, reality architect Marc Winklhofer, studio manager and sound designer Dylan Galletly and art director Leeza Pritychenko, DPTNR is a future-forward creative unit within W+K Amsterdam. By bringing together technology, 3D, culture, theatrics, experiences and the senses, the team create exciting and innovative work such as Bitmap Banshees: a techno glitter VR thriller game.

In a move that sees the studio mirroring its extremely cool website (designed by Bureau Cool, of course) Kirk, Anita, Geoff, Marc, Dylan and Leeza have chosen one book each and rendered these in fantastical worlds in what can only be described as a DPTNR fashion. “The main reason we chose this method is to represent our love for creating new realities,” it explains, “also, by using this method, we can build scenes that portray the personalities of each of our team members.” Check out the selection below…

Kirk – Ryan Holiday: Ego Is The Enemy

The ego can be a useful thing, but it can also limit us in so many ways. I love this book because it’s a great reminder of how the ego can stunt our learning and development, and blind us to our weaknesses. Holiday’s book has strategies to manage our egos, which helps us all be more open, inquisitive, and ready to focus on doing great work.

Within the Department New Realities, our whole ethos and approach relies on us being constantly curious and questioning our own assumptions and existing structures. Without that, we’ll never discover anything truly new. Without that, we wouldn’t be able to bring fresh, insightful, and emotional experiences to our clients and consumers.

Anita – Luigi Serafini: Codex Seraphinianus

This book is a freaky encyclopedia of everything that could be possible but isn’t. I love the abstract combination of physics, flora, fauna and a totally made up language. It sets the imagination on fire and makes you wonder if more surrealists were in charge of technology and design how bizarre our interfaces and products could be. It’s kind of a mash-up of all my favourite things – Alice in Wonderland meets Kubrick meets sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson with a dash of Dali. It’s speculative fiction at it’s finest, a proposal for a new kind of reality – which is what Department of New Realities is about – as we are using new technology to create worlds of infinite possibility.

Geoff – Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita

The Master and Magarita is a book which metaphorically aligns itself with new realities. Whether you are living life as a future witch, crybaby artist, commercial mega profiteer or tech sceptic we can identify that there is a contrast in life from stumbling your way through the dark to find the light to manifesting the intentions of evil into intentions of greatness and generosity.

This is what we do with technology, taking the undefined spaces of a lightless headset and infusing it with a vibrancy that strives to define a future landscape that is fuelled by despair but flies to betterment. And like The Master and Margarita, if we at least try to make humanity positive then we will be spared the bad seat in hell and have a comfortable corner in the VR lounge of 5-star purgatory.

Marc – Ian Bogost: Alien Phenomenology or WHAT It’s LIKE to Be a Thing

Based on Graham Harmans Object Oriented Ontology, Ian Bogost takes humanity off the centre stage of philosophical interest, shifting focus on thing such as cultural artefacts, ecosystems, animals, AIs… but also humans, conceived as things.

Rather than looking for answers in a reductionist manner in science – as Bruno Latour puts it, science “is forced to explain one marvel with another, and that one with a third. It goes on until it looks just like a fairy tale” – Bogust proposes an “Alien Phenomenology” where all things exist equally, interacting with and perceiving each other, but at the same time withdrawing the very essence of their experience, which is so alien to our human comprehension that it becomes accessible only through a speculative philosophy based on metaphor.

While Thomas Nagel can’t give us an answer to “what is it like to be a bat?” Bogost instead invites us to a playground of creating those metaphors: working in carpentry, on video games (Bogust is a game designer himself), or whatever your medium of interest might be.

As a maker, you want to capture what is, not what you think it is, but what it really is, which means you have to dig very deep into yourself and really pull out some things that are very difficult and sometimes very challenging for you. And there’s something both emotionally satisfying about it and something that is very physically satisfying when you finally see your work come to life as a thing, a physical metaphor – applied philosophy in a sense.

Dylan – Shel Silverstein: The Missing Piece

I just love the charming simplicity of this book: a profound journey disguised as a children’s picture book. Will we be happy by filling our own “missing piece”? Or will finding our “missing piece” create new issues and problems?

I find it very inspiring that the book manages to teach such a powerful lesson with “simple” line drawings and relatively basic vocabulary. Proving that it’s more about the power of the message than the execution.

Leeza – Dragan Espenschied and Olia Lialina: Digital Folklore

The main concept behind this book is that technical innovations and tools only become relevant when users start using them to express themselves, and this process naturally evolves in contributing to the culture at large.

While at DPTNR we don’t directly work with net-art or dive deeply into computer culture, we strive to get a hand on new tools. Most importantly, however, to look for the new fresh and exciting, unexpected ways of using them and giving our projects humane and raw, emotional touch.  

P.s I love book

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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