Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions Blog / 48 hours in Brooklyn with the Future of Art and Design

48 hours in Brooklyn with the Future of Art and Design

"The creative industry, the brands who depend on it, and companies like Avery Dennison, who supply the materials that help bring their ideas to life, should all invest in supporting [students] through internships, mentoring and career opportunities."

This is an incredible time to be in the creative industry. The current landscape is a rich, multilayered mashup of physical and digital media, old and new conventions, and the classic with the avant garde. Limitations are disappearing, and the capacity for connecting with people one-on-one is greater than ever.

To realize the potential of the new tools and materials at our disposal and take design to compelling places, we must encourage big talents and bold thinkers. I had the chance to do just that earlier this month, when I spent two days in Brooklyn with four exciting young artists and designers. During that time, I saw firsthand that the creators defining the new creative landscape aren’t just ridiculously imaginative — they are also brave and tenacious in using all manner of media to execute their visions. They are thinking in powerful new ways about content, conversations, and the relationships that can result.

The young people I met were the winners of our Bright New Things Take Times Square competition, in which, in partnership with Arts Thread, we invited students and recent graduates in art and design to submit their best ideas for reimagining everyday furniture using Avery Dennison Graphic Solutions wrapping materials. The prize? To see their work featured in a unique multimedia installation at Design Pavillion in Times Square during New York Design Week, May 11th through the 23rd.

We received more than 200 submissions from around the world. The breadth of creativity and talent they reflected was remarkable. It wasn’t easy, but our panel of judges selected what they deemed to be the four standout designs. We then flew the winners to Brooklyn to meet one another and the Avery Dennison team, and to spend two days bringing their concepts to life.

Because the installation we’re creating for Design Pavilion will incorporate both still and moving imagery of our winners at work (more about that below), the artists not only had to create on the spot — they also had to be filmed and photographed doing it. The shoot, produced by our partners Casual Films and photographer Richard Moran, took place in a location set in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, with Manhattan’s iconic skyline rising in the distance against a clear, blue sky.

Our four winners — Mel Edwards, Theo Payne, Katie Smith, and Lara Torrance, all from England—were more than up for the challenge. All had shown talent for creating ideas that can come to life on multiple platforms, from immersive experiences enabled by augmented and virtual reality, to paper sculptures converted to digital stop-motion animation. None had ever worked with Avery Dennison materials, and I was eager to see how they’d approach doing so.

Our technical team presented the artists with the wrapping materials they’d be working with, which we’d printed with their winning designs. After a brief hands-on demo and safety talk, each artist was given their tools and told to go for it.

All four remarked on how the wrap exceeded their expectations and complemented their artwork; various finishes, like gloss and metallicised, added dimension and accent to their design. Seeing that the materials worked with their concepts seemed to give them all additional confidence for the task at hand.

Each artist settled into their work, with Mel transforming a chair, and Theo, Katie and Lara re-imagining a nest of coffee tables. Watching them create was a thing of beauty; each was determined to master our product and harness it to serve their vision. They worked quickly and expertly, manipulating the material to work against abstract forms. All commented on how easy the material was to work with, and all understood the underlying materials science that made the wrap pliable and easy to position again and again. The two days passed quickly. When it was all over, we had not only four compelling and original works of art, but also beautiful photos and footage to use in our installation.

The installation, which we’re creating as I write this, is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It will be contained in a dramatic, nine-foot-high glass cube. (The process of fabricating the cube, and shipping it to Brooklyn, is worth an article in its own right.)  Avery Dennison’s new VELATM dynamic display-window technology will turn the cube’s glass walls into digital display screens, cycling between rich color and the video and photos of our artists at work. At regular intervals, the color and imagery will fade away to dramatically reveal the artist’s work within.

To top it off, the whole thing is interactive. As viewers walk around the cube, our JanelaTM smart-products platform will enable them to connect with the installation through their smartphones and share the content, plus each of our artist’s stories, with friends and family around the world. All in all, the installation will integrate the physical with the digital in a new, compelling way — just as we aim to do at Avery Dennison. We expect more than three million people to see in in Times Square, and many more to see it online. I can’t wait to see it all come to life.

The new generation of art- and design-school graduates, with their disruptive ideas, fearlessness and ambition, remind me of tech start-ups. They’re full of great potential, and to realize it, they need investment. The creative industry, the brands who depend on it, and companies like Avery Dennison, who supply the materials that help bring their ideas to life, should all invest in supporting them through internships, mentoring and career opportunities. We need their talent. We need their innovations. We should help cultivate both, even when that means taking some risks. If you need proof of how such investment can pay off, come see us at Design Pavilion next month.


To learn more about Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, visit: www.graphics.averydennison.com

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