'Godfather' to communicate ideas

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 12:00am


From traditional art to digital innovation, design has been a vital tool and platform for communication. To explore ways artists and designers can convey their messages in a rapidly changing world, the Business of Design Week will host a session on December 1 to help discuss issues pertinent to communication and design.

The 'godfather of new media', Joachim Sauter will share his outlook with delegates. Renowned for his ability to unite visual arts and commerce, the co-founder and creative head for German firm ART+COM puts emphasis on the power of innovation and the use of new technology.

His studio helped to create mobile kinetic displays for last year's Shanghai World Expo and has been involved in the development of instantly recognisable advertising images for car company BMW.

'Information technology is the basis of new media, just as [paper and ink] were for the print medium or the camera and TV were for broadcasting,' says Sauter, who will be speaking at the communications and design session. 'In the end, though, the important thing with all these media is what you communicate and how.'

The studio's design philosophy is to create 'meaningful beauty', underpinned by a belief in using a design language which goes beyond a direct way of communicating to delivering the same basic message more poetically.

'In several projects, we figured out that if you communicate in a metaphorical way, people get more involved through having to decipher the metaphor,' Sauter says. 'But to convince them to begin the process of deciphering and understanding, you have to offer them beauty. It is like a poem; you start to look for the deeper meaning only if you are first touched by the beauty of the language.'

Sauter plans to reveal exactly how ART+COM has done this over the past two decades, explaining too how the company has remained innovative and relevant. 'We have a set of in-house rules, such as reinvent yourself and have the courage to fail,' he says. 'These help us to master each new challenge.'

Other speakers for the session include award-winning graphic designer He Jianping, who hails from the mainland and is now based in Berlin where he has a studio and publishing house. John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the United States, is an artist, computer scientist and educator whose career reflects his philosophy of humanising technology. He seeks to champion the necessary role that artists and designers play in the creative economy, and sees the traditional, hand-crafted techniques as increasingly relevant in a digital world as people reconnect with what is real.

Typographer Erik Spiekermann, a plenary session speaker at BODW, believes that typefaces - and what they convey - have become more important then ever in the age of information technology. People now depend on alphanumeric messages for much of their communication and what they 'see' when reading can have a big impact on their receptivity and response.

The creative director and managing partner of German firm EdenSpiekermann says font types function as more than just a simple display. He sees them as artworks, representing contemporary literature and aesthetics, and will take the chance to discuss his thinking and achievements during the communication and design sessions.

Spiekermann wants to make information more accessible and help people navigate their physical and mental environment more effectively.

'The design of information, of objects and places, is vital for a country like China where the speed of progress can often be very challenging,' he says. 'But beauty can be a function of that as much as information architecture, which deals with the concept and construction of media.'


Date December 1
Time 2.15pm -5.50pm
Venue Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre