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Design Bridge Visits: Nicer Tuesdays at Oval Space, London

Kicking off its first monthly series of talks for 2017, Nicer Tuesdays (commissioned by It’s Nice That) returned to add some creative inspiration to the end of a hazy January. Held at none other than The Oval Space (home to our recent Christmas party), we managed to bag ourselves some tickets to the sold out show.

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After grabbing a freebie Propercorn bag and (in true Design Bridge style) drinks from the bar, we settled down in our seats and waited for the talks to begin…

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Physically powering through a power cut at the start of her talk, Seetal Solanki (founder and material conservationist at Ma-tt-er) was the first speaker to step on stage.

Demonstrating an array of impressive projects – from designing the interior of the Nissan Q car to limited edition Nike Air Jordan’s for Chinese New Year 2015 – Seetal chose to focus on her most recent (and most surprising) project of producing building materials for houses on planet Mars. With the idea that “materials shape the future”, Seetal wowed us by showing how humans could potentially make bricks and mortar out of just three raw materials already found on Mars (Iron, Silican and Regolith, for the scientific minds reading this). The mix of science and creativity made for an interesting choice of topic, and one that definitely had us raising some eyebrows in appreciation of Seetal’s hard work and dedication.

Seetal Nike Jordan design

Bringing it back down to earth, Seetal ended her talk on a very real and touching image of her parents, who she heroes as her proudest achievement to date as they not only recognise her choice in career, but also her founding belief that materials are a “missing link between industries”.

Rory McGrath, one half of the collaborative practice studio, OK-RM, was the next speaker to take centre stage. Keeping with a similar topic of materials, Rory delved swiftly onto OK-RM’s exploration into the impact of materials on individual emotions and spaces.

With the collective minds of those involved in the fairly new studio, OK-RM combine graphic design elements within hosting, planning and even building their own exhibitions – from London (‘Fear and Love’ currently on at The Design Museum) to Rotterdam (‘Designing the Surface’ at the Het Nieuwe Instituut in March 2017).

OK-RM Fear & Love exhibition

OK-RM offer an unusual and different approach to creativity, and this talk really made us sit up and pay attention, and to really think outside the box in order to fully understand where their vision came from.

With a few minutes to spare for a refreshment break, talks continued with Irish photographer, Linda Brownlee (which made for an interesting subject when sat between two keen photographers from DB!). Linda, who specialises in documentary photography as well as photographing for ad campaigns and directing films, spoke of how she always tries to capture “a sense of storytelling” (much like we do at DB!) and “spontaneity” of everyday life in her images.

Teasing us with just a small collection of photographs from her second self-published book entitled “I Zii” (Sicilian for ‘Uncles, Aunties and Cousins’ collectively), Linda follows a friends family over 4 years in the remote commune of Gangi in Italy. Painstakingly narrowing the book down to only 2 seasons worth of images, the book itself took 2 years to edit. Linda’s commitment to storytelling through her photography produced a charming and candid narrative of the family as they enjoyed the slow paced life in the hilltops of the commune. Always keeping in mind the need to “stay objective and true to how it looks” as well as being careful and thoughtful towards the families she photographs, Linda left her talk on a thought provoking note, speaking of how easy it is to “lose sight of important parts of everyday life” but that capturing and recording these moments makes her work worthwhile.

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Saving the best to last, the most entertaining talk came from the youngest of the speakers and one of It’s Nice That’s ‘Ones to Watch 2017’, animator and illustrator, Jack Sachs.

Jack kept his talk light-hearted and fun, much like the work he creates. Initially an illustrator, Jack found this his static images lacked narrative, and it wasn’t until an injury that left him unable to hold a pen for a long period of time that he started his self-taught 3D journey awards animation. Sachs now boasts a healthy portfolio, producing short animations for MTV, Blink Ink Production’s YouTube series “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared” (much to the delight of some of our Comms team) and, more recently, Maynards Bassett’ Liquorice Allsorts ad.

Jack Sachs animations

Preferring what he calls the “DIY approach”, Jack explained how he uses “clever computer magic” to map in his 3D creations into real life environments filmed beforehand, developing a “contrast between the real and surreal” of his animations – all of which have a sweet, childlike and enjoyable nature to them where you can’t help but laugh as they playfully interact with each other around the screen.

So what did we think of Nicer Tuesdays? Well, first and foremost, it was a fun, relaxing way to spend an evening with some of my fellow DB-ers. Plus it was a bargain at less than £15 per ticket, with tons of freebies and an excellent line up of speakers who gave us plenty to discuss over a couple of pints at a local pub afterwards. In fact, it’s even given us some inspiration for future projects. Watch this space!

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An extra special thanks to Charlotte Harrison for taking the photos. You can keep an eye out for the next nicer Tuesdays event here – maybe we’ll see you there?!

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