New Intimacy Hour was an online event experience at Dutch Design Week 2020 aimed at exploring our lockdown fears, hopes, and desires at the exciting intersection between technology and storytelling. For one hour every day, participants masked their identities with augmented reality filters designed by Admind. In regards to this event, an interview with Maria Isabel Reyes was conducted by MarketingReport from the Netherlands.
How did the idea of participation in Dutch Design Week come about?
The idea to participate came initially from our designers. We saw this as an opportunity for experimentation. At Admind we are very focused on our clients, but some of our best ideas cannot see the light. The theme of New Intimacy Hour from Dutch Design Week (DDW) was the perfect opportunity for our team to apply their creativity to something that meaningful to us as individuals.
How did the idea for an online experience come about?
Our work in the Amsterdam office is focused on experiential and emotional branding and events. With digital event experiences growing in demand and having run a few events for our corporate clients. We were keen to explore these brand experiences from a very different, more emotional angle. We still see a disconnection between the experiential impact of physical events and the coldness and distance of virtual ones. With this project, we want to explore and practice new ways to foster human connection.
Why was the connection with the lockdown emotions chosen?
Intimacy is only created when someone dares to be vulnerable. Emotions are complex topics and they are experienced differently. During our first session, we embraced the topic of love. But we soon arrived at a place where we were discussing how historical and cultural differences have an impact on us, and how we describe our philosophy around the meaning of love during a pandemic. We tend to forget that although emotions are universal, their experience is full of singularities. Inviting these different perspectives in a time like this can help us reconsider our situations and develop the emotional maturity we need to get through the tough times.
How did you come up with the AR filters ideas?
Emotions are universal, we all experience them, but expressing them can take us to a very vulnerable place. The AR filters are a way to explore the role of the mask in the digital world as a tool that offers us a level of anonymity and therefore safety when expressing our inner thoughts. Similar to the Venetian masks, and concerning our current use of the mask as a protective item, our specially designed AR filters only shield us to let emotions flow so that we express what it means to be us in a way that is safe, creative, and beneficial to others.
What do you hope to achieve with the event #NewIntimacyHour?
This is all an experiment. An experiment in social intimacy, driven by our new lockdown culture. A culture in which the places that used to give atmosphere to our social expressions are no longer available to us. We end up finding ourselves digging through meme accounts to feel some sort of connection with the world. And as much as we love memes, with this event we want to invite people to leave their social media for an hour and express their thoughts, experiences, and connect with others by speaking face-to-face, or should I say mask-to-mask(!), to an audience that is willing to listen with a light heart and an open mind. As a creative agency, we are often talking about designing with empathy, but it is only when we open ourselves to meet others that we can put this into practice.
As an agency, do you see a change in brand experiences?
With the accelerated switch to digital, we have seen a shift from awkward to more sophisticated experiences. However, the level of meaning added by human connection is still something very hard to replicate.
How does Admind respond to this?
Even though the world is upside down, most brands are still focused on the same targets and motifs as before, just different channels. But people are changing as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown. This change is not only interesting for us as creatives, as a way to understand our audience’s deepest needs and desires, but also as humans. We have a huge social challenge at hand, we’re losing our fundamental ways to connect. We need to start exploring new ways to adapt to what we have for our own personal and social development.