Have you seen the TEDxAmsterdam 2011 ‘Human brain’ video or the 2012 TEDxSummit ‘The power of x’ human kaleidoscope video? I am sure that you found both of them visually and creatively invigorating. I’ve met with Jamie Kim from We are pi, our partner in creative communications crime, to find out what next gem they will produce for the up and coming TEDxAmsterdam 2012 main event.
A year and a half ago Jamie Kim, Rick Chant, Barney Hobson and Alex Bennett-Grant left Wieden + Kennedy in the quest of creating an agency that can allow them to follow passion projects next to commercial ones. The magnificent four launched We are Pi, a creative agency and hub for multidisciplinary collaboration. Alex (managing director) and Jamie (executive producer) were the original founders and with Rick and Barney as creative directors, the voyage began.
So Jamie, why choose Amsterdam to kick off an agency?
“Besides the fact we were here, working for Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam is a very convenient location for a creative agency, especially with the model that we envisioned, partnering with the diverse creatives according to the project’s needs. Right now there are so many small agencies that maintain creative collaboration. We like that and insist on remaining as open and transparent about our work, and make sure we bring together unusual disciplines for our projects.”
And how did the We are pi and TEDxAmsterdam collaboration happen?
“TEDxAmsterdam is one of our original clients, our ambition of merging the online and offline world is the same as TED’s and so it is a perfect match. Our ambition is to keep working with TEDxAmsterdam for as long as we can, not to mention that it also opened a lot of great opportunities with other TED initiatives like TEDxSummit and TEDGlobal in Edinburgh.
Another parallel we have with TEDxAmsterdam is that it is always important for us to make an ‘idea worth doing’, try to make something that was never done before. This value obviously makes any production very challenging but it’s the ‘unknown factor’ that generates the aspect of innovation.”
What were the most challenging moments in creating the TEDxAmsterdam videos, and what were the best moments?
“A lot of the challenge, especially with the human kaleidoscope was that there was no CGI. That was part of the story, part of the output. The process was really important for us, it is part of the TED values – no cheating, hard work is love.
But that challenge was also the cool thing for everybody. The process of creating a human brain and a human kaleidoscope was as fascinating as the result. TED appreciated, and were just as curious, about the process and that makes it ‘TED worthy’. In working with TEDxAmsterdam it became a true realization that when people come together with a common goal and philosophy, the output can be more amazing then what we could imagine.”
So what should we expect for this year’s video and concept?
“Last year, as you know, we did the ‘Human brain’ for TEDxAmsterdam and ‘The power of X’ for the summit. Our working title for this year’s video is ‘The human architecture’. We would like to visualize the human network, and we are attempting to make a social experiment. We have partnered with TED fellow Cesar Harada, it will be a ‘marriage’ of creativity – communication design, industrial design, animation… all in the attempt to visualize a social geometry experimentation.”
How would you innovate or improve the TED experience?
“Well, the way we see it, TED online followed the TED event. So we would love to add an individual level, where you can curate the content and it could be cool to mix different levels of social networks – think LinkedIn. Everyone can have individual and customizable add-ons and see how people use the content differently in order to represent themselves and reflect their thoughts and beliefs.
I would also add to the TED network – there is so much potential in the TED network, not just by the speakers, but also the other participants and organizers that are all passionate and dedicated to the big idea. I’ve seen first-hand they are always so focused in the production of the event but beyond that it’s a highly creative and powerful network that can really create an idea worth doing. I would challenge them to task themselves with this real-world ambition. In We are Pi we always believe that when people truly come together, truly amazing things are created.”
“How do you see the future of We are pi?”
“We each have our own perspective, but I would say that we would like the agency to stay healthy – financially and psychologically. Keep balancing what we care about and can experiment our creativity with, and try and implement it on commercial work and stretch its boundaries. I would also wish for us to keep being ‘uncomfortable’ in our work because that always generates a better result than we imagine. And obviously – keep working with TED and keep amazing the minds of the mind blowers!”