Building Tomorrow: Studio Dumbar and Moniker explore how tech will influence our creative futures
Ahead of our free panel event on 29 March, two New World: Building Tomorrow contributors discuss how digital tools might help us to shape a better tomorrow.
New World: Creating for Tomorrow is a programme of free, hands-on virtual sessions hosted by Today at Apple and It’s Nice That from 1 – 29 March. Building on our New World partnership in 2021, we’ll be hosting a series of Virtual Studio sessions with artists and designers who use creativity to present their ideals for the future.
It’s hard to imagine a time when the only way of connecting with someone was through face-to-face conversation. No texts, e-mails or DM-ing; just simple, old-fashioned communication. These days, people across the world have infinite tools at their fingertips, meaning that connectivity and creativity have never been easier, faster or more powerful. We’re living through a consistent digital revolution.
Creative developments often go hand in hand with this revolution in technology. In the mid-1980s, for instance, Andy Warhol became a pioneer for producing a series of artworks on an Amiga 1000, a computer made by Commodore International. Revolutionary for both its technical skill and innovation, these computer-based drawings were testament to Warhol’s ability to embrace and engage with new technologies. Four decades later and the landscape has altered drastically. The digital world is now full of possibility and creatives are eager to continue pushing the limits of their mediums. From virtual clubbing and NFTs to 3D depictions of nature and fashion collections built entirely using a computer, creatives have more freedom to explore their ideas, but also to create new digital-first, global communities – all with the tap of a trackpad.
This quest for community is a topic we’ll be discussing in a panel session concluding our New World: Creating for Tomorrow series with Today at Apple. From AR to motion design and variable typography, we’ll explore the ways that creatives have been combining their crafts with technology to construct a better tomorrow.
Joining us off the back of its New World Virtual Studio session earlier this month is Moniker; an Amsterdam-based interactive studio co-founded by Luna Maurer and Roel Wouters, and a fine example of how tech can combine with creativity. Producing work that elicits a “feeling of togetherness and unity, without being physically together”, as Luna describes, the studio flits between various media as a means to delve into how technology can influence our daily lives. Whether it’s crowdsourced music videos, interactive games, installations, short films or VR collaborations, Moniker adopts unconventional techniques as it strives to make projects that are “more human”. This idea was brought to life during the studio’s recent session, where the team taught participants the techniques needed to make playful and experimental digital portraits.
Tech has the power to bring society together. But, it’s also become so heavily entrenched in our lives that there’s a real danger of losing what makes us, us. To combat this, Moniker highlights human idiosyncrasies through its projects and narrows down on the certain tools it adopts in the process. “All designers and creatives in the field have access to an endless amount of digital tools, with endless possibilities and features,” Luna explains. “That is great.” However, with countless options for creatives, the landscape could become oversaturated in the future. “Too many possibilities tend to paralyse,” continues Luna. “We would suggest carefully selecting a creative work environment that fits your personality, then your work will become authentic.”
And so, despite the opportunities technological developments offer, there are certainly a few concerns on the horizon. One of those is the influence of digital image culture and how this will affect our understanding of the world. Just like Moniker, our second panel guest, Studio Dumbar, is working to address this through its cohort of meaningful projects by infusing them with motion design. “Creating motion is getting more accessible day by day,” says creative director, Liza Enebis. “We see many designers exploring and mastering moving typography with a progression to conveying meaningful messages rather than just moving type.”
Along with the industry’s technological growth, tools have now become similar in function and designers are less bound to specific design software. “Nowadays it is easier – and more common – than ever to switch between applications within the design process,” says Liza. This is a result of software becoming more generative, “closing the gap between design and creative coding”, she continues. By coding your own tools, this allows creatives to customise, design freely and provide specific design solutions – something that both Moniker and Studio Dumbar strive for in their respective practices. “Coding is not only a way of realising an idea or design we already thought of, but it actively shapes the ideas and concepts we come up with,” adds Liza. "For us, this way of working has already become a regular practice that we can make use of if necessary, and we think this will become more and more common in the field of design.”
The rise in creative coding is a positive one, not least for its flexibility but also how it gives designers the opportunity to develop their own motion tools. Moving imagery – spanning graphics and variable typography – has therefore become a powerful device for sharing important messaging. “Variable type is already the new normal for current font releases which will result in even more animated typography in the future,” says Liza. An apt tool for expression, Studio Dumbar – akin to Moniker – has been employing this tactic through its work, most recently in its identity for D&AD’s Celebrating Creativity campaign. The bold and dynamic project instantly grabs your attention as it showcases important work created over the pandemic. During last year’s virtual session, Studio Dumbar additionally put thought into practice as it introduced participants to motion design by teaching them how to create a moving map of our world.
It’s clear that technology has many vantage points: communication, collaboration, experimentation and play to name a few. But what’s in store for the future? Will coding reign supreme, or will tools become more pared back and simplified? And how can we continue to embrace technology with tangible personality? Such questions, and the themes noted by Luna and Liza above, will be the topic of discussion in our upcoming panel discussion with Studio Dumbar and Moniker on Tuesday 29 March.
New World: Building Tomorrow
To conclude our virtual series, New World: Creating for Tomorrow, join us for a panel discussion focused on how technology and creativity will combine in the future. It’s Nice That editor-in-chief Matt Alagiah will be joined by designers Moniker and Amsterdam-based Studio Dumbar to discuss the skills and tools that’ll shape tomorrow, including AI, VR and the Metaverse.
Thursday 29 March
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.