We recently held our very first Yes VC Creative Director’s Summit, co-hosted by Pearlfisher, bringing together a remarkable group of creative directors who worked–or recently worked–at companies such as AirBnB, Apple, Facebook and others, who presented some of their projects, talked about major trends in human behavior and cultural change, and shared some of the challenges of being a creative person working in an engineering-dominated industry such as tech.
Caterina Fake of Yes VC–once a Creative Director herself!–presented on the idea of “scenius“, a term coined by Brian Eno. She talked about how scenes, specific to certain geographies, have created fantastic flowerings of creativity, and how the internet has dissipated the growth and flourishing of scenes. How can we recreate the Scenius of, say, Paris in the 20s, San Francisco in the 60s or Downtown New York in the 70s–but in a digital age? Insulating yourself from outside influence turns out to be important, working in a tightknit group, and delaying the release of your creations outside of the scene turn out to be instrumental in creating and maintaining a scene.
Hamish Campbell of Pearlfisher shared his creative process while working on the branding and launch of Seedlip, a distilled beverage company that creates a non-alcoholic drink based on an ancient recipe from a book published in 1651. Incredibly beautiful and strong work as you can see from this image:
There’s a great story behind the founding of Seedlip:
Over three hundred years ago, it was common for physicians to distil herbal remedies using copper stills, harnessing the power of nature & alchemy to solve medical maladies. In 1651, one such physician, John French, published The Art of Distillation documenting these non-alcoholic recipes. At that same time, a family in Lincolnshire had started farming, hand sowing seeds using baskets called ‘seedlips’.
Centuries later, Ben, Seedlip’s founder, stumbled across John French’s recipes & began experimenting with them in his kitchen, using a small copper still & herbs from his garden. That might have been the end of the story, if he hadn’t been given a sickly sweet pink mocktail one Monday evening in a restaurant. The result was the beginning of an idea to combine his farming heritage, love of nature, his copper still & forgotten recipes with the need for proper non-alcoholic options; a name inspired by the seed baskets carried by his family centuries before & a process of Seed to Lip: and so Seedlip was born.
Teemu Suviala, Creative Director at Facebook, using Malcolm Mclaren’s career as a model, presented a fascinating look at the connections between different stages in a person’s career, their seeming disconnection from each other, and how life, which is lived forwards, can only be understood backwards. Teemu explained how different stages of play, from constructive play to role play moves into stages of integration and building. Then the person (or team, or company) begins again with a new idea or project or product and the same thing happens again. Over a long career you can see these seemingly disparate projects merging miraculously into a cohesive whole and a magical, sustained career is created. Here’s Teemu’s diagram of the process:
There were many other presentations, too numerous and even too profound to adumbrate here. But it is always stimulating to thought, to creativity and to productivity to have these events and create a small scene for scenius to flower, no matter how brief.
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