Studio Tour: Giant Ant

(guest post by Lizbeth Salazar, DD37)

On February 1st, my class DD37 and I, went to visit Giant Ant. We were really excited because most of us, leaning towards motion design, really wanted to visit a motion studio and the day finally arrived.

We walked together all the way to the studio, which is located at the end of Chinatown. Once we got there, I was not surprised about their office: I knew they were a small company and would have an office space to match. We went inside the studio and the first thing I saw was all the people immersed in their work, some using tablets, others on their computers with headphones on and others in the kitchen probably taking a short break. Whatever they were doing, they were really into it and they seemed happy.

We were directed to their conference room, and we were lucky to meet Jay Grandin, Partner and Creative Director of Giant Ant. Since we were a group of 18 people along with Jay, the room was crowded once we all sat down. He showed us some of their work and told us about how Giant Ant came to life.

We spent most of the time asking questions. The topics ranged from their process of design, the amount of time it takes them in creating their projects, and all the way to him telling us that he never planned on making motion design for living or even have a motion studio. He mentioned that most things happened in unusual ways and not in the way we have thought about them but if we are happy and we have an end goal, then we have to let whatever happens in the way flow and everything will work out in the end. And looking back at this point of his life, he is happy about where he stands and how things worked out.

By the end we asked him about tips or things we should think about if we really wanted to pursue motion design and he gave the following advice:

1. Create the storyboard as best as possible to avoid wasting time later in the process. The better it is, the less time you’ll put in it trying to refine it.

2. Throw as many ideas you and your team have, good and bad ideas. Combine them and if it works, you’ll have a really strong idea.

3. Forget about the money and learn. Do as much as you can. Do work you think has value and that way people will come to you.

Thanks, Giant Ant!

 

Studio Tour: DDB

(guest post by Marly Marquez, DD37)

After some days of sun, in early February, the first snowfall arrived in Vancouver and the visit of Class 37 to DDB was also held. On February 3th, the group met at 13:00 at the Digital Design campus to start their way to the studio. Between a snow storm and a snowball fight, we arrived to a beautiful building close to West Georgia Street.

After taking the elevator to the 16th floor, we reached a more comfortable atmosphere of creativity and design. Known as one of the best advertising companies in the world, the feeling of having arrived to a place where you would want to work in was felt by the whole group. Sara Caissie, the Account Supervisor at DDB, gave us a warm welcome and led us to a more pleasant place to talk about the company and answer our questions.

Stéphane, a Creative Director at DBB, joined Sara to discuss the company structure and share some of DDB’s projects. They introduced the different areas that exist in the company such as: Strategy planning & research, Traditional Advertisement, CRM (customer relation management), etc.

For DDB to continue to be one of the most recognized worldwide companies and at the same time be able to transmit the correct messages to the audience has been a challenge, but not impossible. They mentioned that in each project, they seek to create something unique as an experience for the users.

After a Q&A session, we started a tour around the floor where we saw the different workplace areas, brainstorming notes on the walls, card sorting, and other conceptual work. We also were able to enjoy the beautiful view that they have of the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza.

For their last motivational words, they told us to embrace criticism of our work to grow as designers and make our work better. For the future, they advised us to work as freelancers to build our industry profiles. DDB, like many companies, search for people with specific skills to work on projects. Also they invited us to send them our portfolios after finishing the DD program to see if they can offer us some internships.

All the 37’s want to give special thanks to Louise Lee for arranging the visit to DBB, to Danny Chan and Stephanie Wu for their patience and support and finally, but not least all, the staff of DBB for their advice and warm words.

 

Studio Tour: Axiom Zen

(guest post by Julian Liao, DD37)

The DD37 class recently had the chance to visit the Vancouver based venture studio, Axiom Zen. Having heard many great things from past DD students, we were all very excited to witness first-hand the kind of work that they did.

On the day of the tour, we eagerly made our way underground to Axiom Zen’s main lobby as we waited in anticipation for the studio tour to begin. It was surreal to watch the surrounding techies in their natural habitat. They sat with their backs harmoniously infused with the ergonomic contours of their Herman Miller office chairs, tapping away on their Apple keyboards, fully entranced in their work. Their eyes were carefully peeled before their screens, as they stared curiously, pondering what I could only imagine were highly evolved and interdisciplinary problems… or perhaps the age-old question of what was for lunch, a problem of proportional scale and importance that continues to plague all of humanity.

As the studio tour began, the class was greeted by Axiom’s UX/UI designers, Geordie and Mariana, who spoke to us at length about their workplace culture, and their roles as designers for the venture studio. The concept of the venture studio was very fascinating, as they are a self-described “startup for startups”. The organizational structure of Axiom remains relatively flat which helps to promote a highly collaborative and entrepreneurial environment. Everyone is free to take on projects as they see fit, and select work that suits or interests them.

As an incubator for startups and newly fledged digital products, Axiom Zen has accumulated quite a diverse array of brands under their portfolio. The office floor was separated into different pods for each product team. We had the opportunity to visit Toby, Routific, ZenHub, and Hammer & Tusk. In each case, we were able to learn about the histories of each project and how the teams were able to take these products from inception to their current stages of development. Toby, for instance, is a project that’s still very much in its nascent stage, and began simply as a passion project among some of Axiom’s developers who saw the need for a more powerful tool to help manage their browser tabs. It was inspiring to hear stories about entrepreneurs and creators who were empowered to create solutions for real-life problems that they experienced. Finally, we capped off our studio tour by testing out some cool VR gadgets with Hammer & Tusk. We got to learn about some of the challenges designers and technologists faced in creating impactful experiences for these new and emerging user platforms.

Our day at Axiom Zen was a unique opportunity for the class to learn about the structure of a tech-based studio. The most impressionable aspect of our visit was definitely the blend of entrepreneurial spirit and passion behind everyone who worked there. It truly felt like an environment where fresh ideas came to grow and thrive. It is with little doubt that many of these projects would one day go on to shape the next wave of successful digital products and services.

A big thank you to Axiom Zen for having us!