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The Ideal Studio
KesselsKramer

KesselsKramer is one of the world’s most innovative communications agencies with offices in Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles. It aims to “act as a start-up but with a global presence” and has worked with clients as diverse as diesel, Grand Mariner and the city of Amsterdam. Dave Bell, one of the partners in London, answered our questions.

On initial concerns…

If a new or prospective client had fish scales instead of skin, or travelled to meetings by ostrich, that would ring some alarm bells. That aside, I guess our main concern is a client confusing interference with collaboration. Involvement is great, and necessary, but it's important to let ideas have breathing space too. 

Also, some clients are of the mind that the stress of ultra-tight deadlines produces sparks of creativity. They don’t! They just mean working through the night and eating badly. And nightmares about fish-scale skin. Other than that I think the agency, studio or creative team gets the relationship and process they deserve. If you’re clear, transparent and honest about how you tackle things, then alarm bells will stay silent.

On the barriers to creative risk-taking…

The most important factor – and this is may sound a bit obvious thing – is  do you think you can make really good work together? The client’s willingness to take a few risks can determine this, so their daring can be as important, maybe even more so, than the ability of the creatives who are coming up with the ideas.

It’s difficult to find people who are willing to go out on a limb. Big organisations can smother radical thinking internally, while start-ups might have a bunch of natural risk-takers, but be too close to their new product or brand to see the beauty in turning things on their head when it comes to selling it. It really comes down to mutual trust. If you can cultivate that then you won’t be afraid of tossing unusual ideas out, or of the client throwing back strong critiques.

On the right kinds of meetings…

Too many meetings blight any creative process. At KK Amsterdam we have picnic tables as meeting tables that give you anal splinters. In London on the other hand, we have a great-looking meeting table designed by Jean Jullien, but sit there for more than 30 minutes and your next appointment is with a chiropractor.

That said, it is incredibly useful to catch up with the brand team or client, as it can steer you away from dead-ends and help you arrive at choices together. Gone are the days where you sit in your agency or studio for four weeks, avoiding any client collaboration because you feel you have the need to surprise them with a big circus presentation at the end. It rarely works, it’s never asked for, and regular catch-ups are a positive step away from ivory tower thinking.

On bringing in clients (literally)…

What most creatives need, I think, is facilitation, inspiration, and a great, short brief. Collaboration is key, just because the clients know more about the brand than we do. And sometimes it’s nice to have a coffee and chat about stuff. 

At KK we have an open door policy – literally, since we are a shop and gallery as well as an agency – and clients can work at our place whenever they wish. It’s good to be immersed in all the clients know, but then to be set free from it a bit too, so you can filter out all the stuff that isn’t useful. It is of course useful to have some informal get-togethers to go through work, sketches, thoughts and directions. We usually call them Tissue Sessions. That's such a horrible term though, it sounds kind of seedy. Tissue Sessions needs rebranding.

Why hobnobs keep the creative world turning…

Chemistry is the most important thing. If there's no chemistry, then what's the point of going through it all? You’ll spend a lot of time in each other's company, but if there’s no love, no laughs and no biscuits in the meeting room then you’re going to have a pretty uninspiring time. 

kesselskramer.com

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