24. März 2020

The Roaring Twenties Reloaded ?

Asae Tanaka, Associate Creative Director / Art Director, Ogilvy Tokyo started her career at Ogilvy, Frankfurt and convinced with her multi-layered designs that imply everything around us like colors, cultures, energy and people. Asae answers our questions about the new decade and illustrates how creators and designers will be utilizing technologies as tools and return to what communication was originally meant to be.

The Roaring Twenties of the 20th Century have been a decade of creative explosion triggered by new mass media like cinema and radio broadcasting. Will the twenties in the current century involve a comparable development for creativity — against the backdrop of digital platforms?

This isn’t just limited to The Roaring Twenties, but throughout history every time new media technology appears, it leads to new creative works. For example photographic technologies appeared in the 19th century. This significantly impacted the visual arts, with paintings at the core. It accelerated the transition from Realism to Impressionism, then in the 20th century gave birth to Fauvism and Cubism. With the arrival of television, people revisited the very concept of traditional film art, or movies. So the evolution of science and technology as represented by media technology is very closely related with the evolution of culture and the arts.

And what would that mean for the creative industries?

As everyday elements move into the online space, we see customer experiences transitioning to the online space, too. Many digital channels that are closely attached to all aspects of individuals’ lives are being created. This has heavily influenced the fact that online advertising in Japan surpassed that of TV advertising in 2019. We are being asked to personalize brand messages even further, to be suited to each individual, and are currently transitioning into a world that is customized to an extreme level. That means we are going back to our original form of existence – creative making lives richer — and I feel we’re pioneering a bright future for our industry.

 We are going back to our original form of existence – creative making lives richer.

The Roaring Twenties have been a phenomenon in western societies and cultures; today – in a digitalized and globalized world — also trends and innovations of Asian countries and states in the Middle East determine development and change. What are you expecting from these developments; what can we look forward to?

The Roaring Twenties was a time where the West — with the United States at the center — lead the creative scene. Asian countries aspired to attain that greatness and adhered to the standards that the West created, following its lead. But in recent years, we are seeing possibilities for any market to lead in creating platforms, where anybody can be the leader — as we can see in the TikTok boom originating from China. It’s no longer a time in where a single country leads the scene. Because we’re living in a time where people are transcending borders and language barriers to connect, I believe people will look for creative work that speaks to universal human emotions. Expressions that are disarmingly, genuinely honest.

I believe people will look for creative work that speaks to universal human emotions.

Across borders the “New Objectivity“ became famous in art, architecture und literature. It was important to show the world “as it is.” Nowadays we see more and more hysterical debates; conspiracy theories are popular as never before. What follows for communicators, even designers and artists?

I believe people will look for creators that are able to draw out “humanity” in everything. With the technological evolution, our lives are now richer in a material and physical sense, but on the other hand — as a result of an overwhelming amount of information — you see conspiracy theories becoming popular. Maybe it’s because these conspiracy theories turn hard-to-understand reality into easy-to-understand fiction, making you feel like you understand the world. You can shop online without physically going to a store. Furthermore, as that data is gathered you are given recommendations of things that would suit you, that you would like, out of a huge volume of information. This is convenient, but on the other hand, I believe this is desensitizing and dulling our spiritual richness. Inherently, we unconsciously looking for “moments of awareness/inspiration” and “chance meetings” that are born out of direct, human-to-human communication, and these cannot be obtained through AI and Big Data.

Let me share with you something I recently experienced in a clothing shop. I tend to purchase monotoned clothing online, but I happened to go to a brick-and-mortar store and engaged in some conversation with its staff. And as a result, I was attracted to flower patterns, that I would never consider for myself. When I tried it on, the flower patterns suited me much more than I expected, and I decided to purchase it. I remember how I left that shop feeling happy. That the small discovery made me feel like I’d met a new me. I believe creators from now into the future will be evolving with universal human emotions at the core, fully utilizing technologies as tools and yet returning to what communication was originally meant to be.

What kind of public discourse have an impact on creative minds – passive or active? What are new impulses, which have an effect as inspiration and power?

When you are spending every day with opportunities to generate a lot of output, you often feel the need to obtain quality input, which is in line with the output required from you. I try to consciously “meet and speak” with people. Because we live in an age where we can get large amounts of information online in a single moment, in order to find information or sources of stimulation that really “work for creativity”, it’s essential to find information with human warmth and to meet people. My source of inspiration is to have face-to-face meetings and to have positive conversations — this is the most human way to be inspired. Therefore, lecture sessions where people meet are good opportunities to unconsciously stimulate my creative side, since these are occasions in which information that “work for creativity” are sure to exist.

To meet people are good opportunities to unconsciously stimulate my creative side.

History manifests itself in places of memory; also: certain individuals can be recognised as examples of history. When it comes to the new decade: Which are the places we will associate it with in the future? Are they digital rooms instead of the Admiralspalast or the “Ballhaus”? Will there be a new Bauhaus?

If we are going to put a name on the next decade, I guess we can call it the “Human Technology” era. This will be a time where we see the rapid evolution of relatable products that suit a wide variety of personal preferences, and technologies aspire to improve the way we live. We currently see how the evolution of technologies are widening the gap between lifestyles and human instincts, and we see an emotional halation spreading. To fill this gap, I believe we will see from now onwards creative work that uses technologies as tools — to draw out “humanity” and emotions that are universal to all human beings — being evaluated highly.

Which city is going to be the “melting pot” of ideas and creativity”? Are there already some new geniuses showing up?

With the evolution of digital platforms, I believe the concept of “city” does not fit the creative scene anymore. If we’re talking about focusing on “people” instead of the “city”. I’m paying a lot of attention to Kaname Hayashi, President of GROOVE X. With “drawing out human capabilities through robotics” as his mission, Mr. Hayashi is a creator who is developing “LOVOT”, a robot that serves as a human emotion companion instead of focusing on functionality. I believe we’ve reached a stage where we look for emotional/spiritual richness, exactly since we’ve obtained that luxury due to technological evolution. The reason why TikTok is embraced globally, because it stimulates people’s emotional senses, instead of focusing on functionalities. I believe we are going to see the arrival of a new era, where tech and creative influence each other.

We’ve reached a stage where we look for emotional/spiritual richness, exactly since we’ve obtained that luxury due to technological evolution.

Finally, what can we as creative people do to ensure that innovation and excellent communication continue to be linked to the notion of “Made in Germany”?

Starting out with the Bauhaus movement, Germany has impacted the world in many ways, in various artistic and cultural fields. I myself, a Japanese, am another who has been influenced by “Made in Germany”. I actually spent some time in the German creative industry and had many precious experiences there. Out of them, the words given to me from a German designer I respect — “Creativity is the ability to imagine others”— is what molds me as a creator today. The reason why “Made in Germany” are loved all over the world is because they’re based on creative thought out with human beings at the center. Designed to be mindful of the people who will use the products; functionalities and shapes that are well-considered and thoroughly thought out in fine detail. These simple forms created as a result of ultimate organization are the crystalized form of being considerate towards people. Some critics say that consideration, by which I mean the inherent capacity in human beings to respect the emotions and experiences of others, is deteriorating because of tech. However, it’s undeniable that the evolution of technology is broadening the horizons for opportunities for creators, in a definitive way. If you pursue innovation while utilizing technologies as tools in a positive way, keeping human-centric philosophies nurtured in Germany, then naturally, “Made in Germany” and high-quality communications can continue to work together.

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