There’s an increasingly noticeable social change in Sydney towards a more open and interactive creative community, with more inclusive, accessible events dedicated to sharing knowledge and ideas. As someone who runs events, I’m fascinated by the reasons behind this cultural shift so I sat down with Vince Frost to talk about their monthly free event de.Frost*.
What is the purpose of de.Frost*
VF The purpose of de.Frost* is really to inspire people. It’s not a new thing really, for the twenty years I’ve been in business we’ve always had friends and other people coming through to have unofficial chats in London and here in Sydney. For example if a friend visits from London to work on something I might ask them to have a chat to our guys and make a bit of a drinks thing out of it. It’s always been really well received to bring people into the studio to talk about their lives, their careers or a specific subject matter.
Our overarching positioning at Frost* is ‘Inspiring ideas to life’ and really it’s about taking ideas and opportunities and collaborating with each other, creating new ideas and bringing them into the world. So it’s always great to have other people talking about their process or their passion, I’ve always encouraged that and I wanted to make it more official. I wanted to make it a monthly thing here in the studio that’s smaller scale and intimate, where 100 people can come to mingle, chat and ask questions.
When did it all start?
VF de.Frost* was started about two years ago. I meet a lot of really amazing people, clients and other creatives here and around the world and I want to utilise that network and bring it into the business so my team can get exposed to it. I’m passionate about ideas and I just think the stimulus of seeing other people talking about their ideas has a positive affect on my team and certainly my clients too.
It’s a great networking opportunity, you meet some really interesting people who then become part of our network of friends, which then has a positive knock on effect for future collaborations.
VF We called it de.Frost* as it’s the idea of thawing your mind and changing your preconceived ideas. The idea of re-thinking things, or not taking things for granted, or being stimulated in a way you didn’t know…or learning.
How many events have you held so far?
VF We’ve run the events fifteen times now and we’re getting much better at organising them. Previously it was very hard work to organise each event. Angela is now running it and she’s doing really well. It’s great how technology has enabled us to use something like eventbrite to make events like this more professional.
Who would you like to come along to de.Frost*? Can students come along?
VF It’s open to anyone who wants to be inspired and there’s no reason why students shouldn’t come along. Each event has a different subject matter and I think it finds people who have an interest in that subject. It’s mostly clients and mostly people related to the industry that the speaker is talking about.
How valuable do you think it is for students to come to events like de.Frost*?
VF It’s amazing how few make the effort. You can’t make somebody hungry for knowledge.
How many people usually attend?
VF We raised it from being 50 to a limit for 100.
Where do you see de.Frost* in the future?
VF I’m in two minds whether to grow it in size or keep it as it is. I think we’ll just see how it goes.
There’s a lot of stuff going on now in Sydney on the creative calendar which is exciting too, maybe more so during certain times in the year like Design Week and VIVID… there’s a lot of creative conversations happening. What I find exciting is that Sydney is becoming a much more of a creative capital than it has been in the past and there’s a real push from the government like Clover Moore and the Committee for Sydney, there’s a bunch of organisations pushing for Sydney to become a real creative hub and a real centre of innovation as well. I know a lot of cities are doing that but I believe Sydney is one place that can actually do it really well and attract the right people and the right minds because it’s a beautiful environment as well.
Do you think we’re getting better in Australia at talking about creativity and design and seeing the value?
VF I think so and I think clients are certainly wiser for it now. I think the way designers have sold themselves in the past has been really arrogant or really focused on being a crafts person vs being a business advisor. I think that a lot of creatives have created that way of ‘I am an individual, this is how you’re going to do it or we’re not going to do it.’ and I think that’s the first thing I noticed when I first moved to Australia ten years ago. Some people were saying that clients don’t understand design here which I think was a generalisation, it wasn’t true. The ones that were having difficulty getting or selling work or growing their business was because of their approach, not because the clients weren’t open to it. The way they were selling themselves wasn’t in a collaborative or compelling way.
I think what’s shifted in the past ten years, not just here but around the world is the emphasis on collaboration and the proven case studies of collaboration of how that makes a significant difference on the outcome of a project. I think people have shifted in that way from less focus on the individual to much more focus on the team approach.
IDEO’s approach to design thinking has been a real catalyst for that as well, it’s almost like it’s the trade mark approach for how corporations now understand the value of design. Big corporations – their marketing guys are now going off to places like IDEO and Stanford University to do courses, where they begin to understand the power of designing new ideas as opposed to regurgitating old ideas. In Sydney UTS Business School has made a huge transformation, not only commissioning Frank Gehry to design their new building but also changing their curriculum to focus on design thinking and business. It’s an absolutely powerful combination.
I see design as not just being a craft, it is much more as a business. We’re business consultants. We utilise design strategies and design to realise successful outcomes. We design better businesses.
de.Frost* is a lecture series featuring speakers drawn from our broad network of leading local and international industry thinkers and achievers. The events offer the opportunity to hear inspiring insights and participate in stimulating debate.
By Flyn Tracy