Interview for the Competence Site of Dr. Winfried Felser with our founder Andreas Geyer.
A few years ago, art in architecture was often compulsory, or in other instances only for decoration. With New Work art and design represents more than just a label to be earned and more often a narrative object for future thinking and disruption of old patterns of thought. But art as an existential visual language?! Storytelling can be experienced indeed, not just placed on high gloss brochures and adverts.
We’re delighted that in Andreas Geyer we have one found a truly excellent interlocutor on the topic. Andreas Geyer is a founder and co-owner of Orange Council GmbH and owner of ORANGE CAMPAIGN LTD, located in Hong Kong. As art and creative director he worked in several well-known European creative agencies, and most recently as the co-owner of Red Rabbit advertising agency. He is a member of the British organization D&AD and the German Art Director’s Club (ADC). For his work, he has been awarded with more than 100 national and international creative and efficiency awards, most recently the Golden Nail for the New Work Project for Deutsche Telekom AG.
Dear Mr. Geyer,
Question 1: Orange Council and the Golden Nail.
First off, congratulations on your recent award! Many awards for creativity and efficiency are in the biographies of Orange Council’s founders. In 2015 you were also named the Newcomer Agency of the Year, and now you’ve won the Golden Nail for the New Work Project.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your agency? How do you bring award-winning creatives with different skills and interests together in a single organisation? How does Orange Council function? And last but not least, what was decisive for this new award?
Firstly, thank you very much for all the flowers! A couple of words about us: Orange Council GmbH is a communications agency with small, decentralised offices in Europe and abroad, as a means to establish a platform for our creative and artist’s network.
We try to intelligently link different communication disciplines like design, advertisement, film, events, spatial design and art through multi-faceted storytelling. And because everything needs a label, we have that too. We call it New Culture of Play (or NEUE SPIELKULTUR.)
For this reason, we are constantly assembling small, agile spaces with creatives and artists from all over the world, in order to meet the requirements of a respective project. And when we talk about out New Work Project: the principles of work 4.0, we actually live in our own lives since the founding of Orange Council.
We’re very proud that in addition to the economic success of the agency, we’ve also won creative and efficiency prizes like the Effie Award, or the re-named Art Director’s Club. In the latter case, the re-design of the Telekom headquarters in Bonn was mainly about identification through an unusual, artistic approach to Telekom’s own technological history. At the same time, it was important for us not simply to produce an art concept, but to integrate the planning modules of the client and to provide them with a special point of perspective.
Through the use of art, architecture and design the participating artists were able to develop their own unique visual language in collaboration with Telekom representatives to give the previously formal, impersonal Telekom Headquarters a completely new spirit.
Question 2: New Work: From Art in Architecture as a Requirement to Narrative Showpiece
A few years ago, art in architecture was often something compulsory, or in other cases, simply decoration. With New Work, art and design seem to have gained more importance than every before, and to become an object-narrative for a future thinking, or a disruptor of old patterns of thought. With New Work art and design represents more than just a label to be earned and more often a narrative object for future thinking and disruption of old patterns of thought. But art as an existential visual language?! Is storytelling as something to be experienced, instead of just high-gloss brochures and adverts?
To what extent do companies already have the opportunity to transport or transform culture through art and design? What drives this issue? Can you explain the role of art and design in more detail? What is the best way to change the position of art and design in the minds of employees?
I think art had a very high social value, particularly in times of social upheaval, and was characterised by images of the future and were therefore responsible for the destruction of old patterns of thinking. We only have to think about the art movements from the beginning of the 20th century, the Bauhaus school, or Warhol’s factory.
Today we are in another moment of great societal upheaval as a result to digitsation, globalisation, changes in values, and so it’s only logical that, above all, art should be a socially motivator and that it can once again inspire change.
However, artistic interventions work best when one brings together people and employees, establishes a clear context and merges existing stories and images. And for that we use a lot of other media and disciplines outside of art, such as films, book publications, events, or key images from social media. In my opinion this isn’t about an either-or classical media vs. art, but about the intelligent, efficient and simultaneous use of different communication disciplines. In this way, the work develops its strength not only in the closed space for a small circle of employees, but also through an integrated communication concept, in which a large audience can also participate.
And, of course, a so-called outward looking view helps to make a company an attractive employer. Art thus not only creates adequate and inspiring work environments within the framework of New Work, but also a powerful HR instrument. The visual storytelling, which is created through artistic work, also provides unique content and strong stories for journalists and other platforms. And it furthermore offers a lot of unusual photographs and pictures used in the press. This is a good reason for the growing commitment companies have for the communicative power of art and design.
Question 3: New Work and Concrete Art and Design.
You have in addition to Bosch, successfully assisted Deutsche Telekom in their own transformation, and specifically supported the Detecon move from Bonn to Cologne. To do this, you reinterpreted the company’s history and took a chain saw to white walls.
Could you explain—ideally with an example—how you used art and design in these projects. To what extent were the individual circumstances (relocation, counseling, New Work) considered? How is the anarchistic approach of art compatible with the rigour of corporate design?
Taking a chainsaw to a white wall is a nice picture, I think. The disruptive component is one of the three important pillars in Orange Council’s approach to New Work. Especially in Germany the theme “inspiration” has found little or no place in the workplace, since in so many places pure functionality and pure boredom dominate. It’s about creating images that deliberately irritate and therefore creation occasions to think about one’s behavior and approach to work, and initiating “thinking about one’s own thinking,” as our artistic director and curator Dr. Berhard Zünkeler once said.
And the center of the design is so-called “up-cycling”, which means discarded inventory or parts of technical history are catapulted into the present through artistic processes. The key factor is that these elements reflect company culture and form a key identification point for the company. If one wants to quantify the whole, the highly disruptive part makes up about 10% of the form, about 20% communication and collaborative areas with a strong focus on functionality and flexibility. A large proportion of the surfaces are then standard furniture from furniture manufacturers—maximally scalable and functional. The disruptive elements are therefore also integrated into an overall concept and are used in a targeted and controlled manner.
At first sight the “anarchist approach” is integrated into a very planned overall concept, in which different disciplines from corporate consultancy, communication, design, architecture and art interact.
Like corporate design, the work for New Work is, of course, subject to the respective company’s objectives. With their completely different roles, they are clearly complementary. The supposed contrast between art and corporate design is therefore visible in formal frameworks.
Question 4: New Work and Art Prospects – Classical Approach?
A New Work project, in particular a Space-Art-Project, takes place in a special area between formal planning of design and spontaneity.
How classical or individual was this project. What was the trigger? How did the cooperation come about, what were the objectives and framework, and how was the desired result achieved in this collaboration? Is spontaneity predictable? How did the cultures of artist and consultant get on together?
We have been working successfully for several years with the competency field of New Work in consultancy with Detecon. If you want to describe Orange Council as the “gut feeling”, and Detecon as “the head” or intellect, that would be too quick a conclusion but it also makes a bit of sense, even if the lines between the two are blurred.
The tools are to recognise of motivators, comprehensive needs analysis, identification of the different activity clusters in the work field, as well as to communicate this internally and externally. What is special about this is the fact that in our joint work, the areas of corporate consulting and communication strategy, classical and unconventional working methods are increasingly becoming an exciting, unprecedented product. And that is what we are trying to optimise more and more.
This very planned process still enables a high degree of freedom and artistic anarchism, and the special USP creates an unusual cooperation.
In New Work, this “loss of control” for companies if the first visible step in a new, lively culture of innovation. The artistic works serve as inspiration and motivation along the way.
Question 5: #ROI Success of #Art in Context of #NewWork?
Evaluating soft success factors, such as art, is often very difficult. Nevertheless, the question of success/failure is present here. Have you systematically asked for feedback from the employees or was there a success-evaluation in a different form? Did a learning process take place or have decisions been revised? To what extent were your initial dreams accomplished?
Art itself is not a success factor, but rather a special form of communication. The effect of the resulting work environments—both internally and externally—can of course be measured if one wants to do so.
If you look at a larger number of individual publications, you can already say that the media visibility achieved a multiple of the budget used for the spatial productions. We also have figures from companies in which, for example, the “further potential for recommendation as an attractive employee—could be increased by a high double-digit value during the period before, during and after the spatial staging and growth in new customer generation.
Of course, this doesn’t just have to do with art, but art has certainly been very helpful.
These figures are, of course, important for the company’s internal controls, but it is much more important, to reach and inspire each employee at each level. With workshops, with different accompanying communication measures, internal events, with rapid prototyping are worth the newly created work environments themselves. All, transformation processes in companies, which are also of vital importance to the economy, no longer function exclusively top-down, but only if all employees are really ready to do so. It is really great when art can make a contribution to society.
Many thanks for the interview!