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“Clients forgot that content is the King”

Riga, February 20th, 2018

Based in Riga, Latvia, WARP is a creative coding and spatial design studio. It consults, evaluates, plans and implements works ranging from custom web applications to real time interactive installations both in web and physical space including electronics. The agency was started by Reinis Adovičs, who now fulfils the role of Technical Director.

In an interview with TIA, Adovičs gave us an insight on the role of technology and computing in WARP’s daily work. At the same time, the agency’s Technical Director went through the challenges of being an storyteller and gave his insight on how to create remarkable content and engaging with clients.

What important things or experiences have brought you to where you are today?

I’m formally trained as an architect, a wish I established in early childhood. I thought what’s the use of designing spaces if one does not understand both individual and collective behaviour, cannot predict it and guide it. I apply this knowledge in interactive and spatial design as well as when consulting on more straight forward creative strategies. I’ve always loved mathematics, I even had a part-time job as private maths teacher when attended high school. This aspect led me to teach myself how to code, it felt natural.

Meanwhile, I also took interest in electronics and embedded programming as it enabled me to “make things talk”, connect the digital to the analogue world, bidirectional interactivity between user and space/thing. It was a blast finding out that all my main interests can be connected to create something meaningful, at least for me. This knowledge enables me to work also as Technical Director.

One of your key areas of work is physical computing. What are its most important elements?

Words “physical computing” state the obvious ingredients – physics and computing. However, they do not include in my opinion the most significant ingredient – human. So yeah, I would put as the top one the understanding of user. Only such understanding would lead to modelling and creation of successful interfaces for interactions. Electronics, sensors, graphic design, and programming come second.

What are the current challenges that you face as a storyteller?

Clients for quite a long time got side-tracked by tech and forgot that the content is the king. Hardware indeed is cheap, IP that goes into engineering, designing and coding a story using the hardware is not. In the beginning an advertiser could and did skip the second part. But now we are moving back to content quality direction.

Users have seen enough of the technology already, content has to come and bring back the magic. This is demand driven thing, advertisers will have to comply. Another challenge is the fact that very often when briefed I have to explain that not all answers should be digital. Digital is just one of many tools, it is not fairy dust solution.

How do you take into account your target and users?

That’s simple. Just rely on the freely attainable knowledge on how the social animals think and what makes them act (even more – what makes group of humans act together) in order to set up and manipulate the matter so that the target is met.

What makes for a remarkable piece of content? What are the essential elements of good branded interactive installations, IoT, VR, AR initiatives?

Give users the freedom to be the content creators and owners and the content will be remarkable. Subjectively remarkable to the users, but that’s the goal. Make them emotionally associate with it and thus – care for it. Seek extended brand experience all day, every day.

The client is upset with a particular element of design that you have done. They believe that you have not created what they asked for. How would you handle this?

The outmost part of what I do is based on natural science and no-nonsense rationale that can be explained and argument by basic physics laws. I can improvise and compromise to only some degree here with a client. Clients tend to be interested in “how computers and physics work”, or maybe I’m just lucky. If there is a genuine interest then I’m more than happy to explain. Teaching in general is interesting and brings joy for me. Client really should mean teammate. He has/knows something I don’t have/know and vice versa.

What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital industry?

After working in a service industry for a while you might learn things that make you disappointed. Or it might not trigger you at all. But if it hits you then you might look into possibility of applying the knowledge gained to help create a product of your own. Sometimes when I look at those agencies I dream of what such concentration of strong, young, qualified and motivated IP could achieve if instead of spending so much overtime as they do for somebody’s product X it was spent on product Y that they own themselves.

Thanks Reinis!

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