Jess Scully, curator and collaborator of Vivid Ideas, challenges the arts and creative industries to build more interesting, creative and sustainable cities. As well as spearheading Vivid Ideas for the sixth year running, her current projects include TEDxSydney, Kids Hack Day and directing public art interventions for the City of Sydney and AMP Capital. DQ Editor, Sophia Watson, chats with the creative omnivore herself on Vivid Ideas – then, now and next.
Sophia Watson [SW]: What has been the evolution of Vivid Ideas over the past six years, and your role of developing it?
Jess Scully [JS]: The first three years were certainly more small scale – more of a local focus on regional creative disciplines and so on. But our audience began to grow as did the appeal and reach. The festival itself developed into a creative Australian event with an international flavour and reach, and being that Vivid Ideas is a 3rd of the festival we began drawing on global creatives to expand and enrich the offering.
I’m a bit of a creative omnivore – I consume any and all things creative no matter what the area, I find it all so fascinating but I’m in no means an expert. That’s why I start the process by speaking with people in niche creative disciplines – generally research specialists – and I ask who and what they are excited by; who’s pushing the envelope, what are the new ideas and concepts being explored. I also consume A LOT of media. It’s really a combination of keeping my ear to the ground with industry investigation and networking with people in the know.
When curating the mix of local, regional, and international guests for Vivid Ideas I always like to keep an eye on people pioneering new product categories, those who are creating their own market, for example Gadi Amit [USA] who is one of our international speakers this year, is the designer, entrepreneur and founder of NewDealDesign, and is a pioneer in the “wearable technology” space. As well as championing change through design he is wary of where design decisions can lead us. It’s this calibre of creative figures who completely boggle my mind, and leave me asking a dozen questions.
SW: Has the development of Vivid Ideas been more organic or have you worked to form it into a specific identity?
JS: It’s been a combination really. There has been such a huge boost to the program, and it’s obvious that something exciting is going on in Sydney. The Vivid Ideas element has become this amazing beacon in alignment with Vivid Sydney as a whole, and I think has played a large part in accelerating our growth alongside the huge shift in the culture of business.
Particularly in the last few years, we’ve noticed much more of an appetite in the corporate sector, manufacturing and services and more traditional industries understanding the power of innovation and creativity as a strategic tool for business. More and more conservative sectors are looking to recruit creative thinkers as well as inspire “design thinking” in their workforce. These shifts have meant that the role and prestige of the creative sector has really exploded and given a lot of gravity to the Vivid Ideas program as a veritable creative barometer on a local, regional and global scale.
SW: What excites you about this year’s curation?
JS: Well it’s like choosing between children! But I have to say I am super excited about Australian interiors on Saturday, exploring furniture designers, textiles, furnishings etc.
There will be a panel on Saturday looking at the Australian design language – our distinctive aesthetic in local work and how we translate this language on the global stage. It really delves into answering questions such as “How does the Australian lifestyle influence our interiors and how do we shape our spaces to express our identity?” “What are the qualities that are unique to design from this time and place? and “What does it take to produce and market a signature Australian design both in Australia and globally
On this note, I’m also really looking forward to the Show & Tell – a peek into the creative minds of Australia’s most distinctive makers. Eight design and style leaders will guide us through their new collections, inspiration and the secrets behind their processes with a colourful series of lightning presentations on their stunning creations.
I could honestly go on all day, I really believe that this year we have managed to gather some of the world’s most exciting creative minds – and I am so eager to see the results – I hope many will join my enthusiasm!