Technology, Design and the Future for Brands and IPs
By Marti Romances, Creative Director and Co-Founder at Territory Studio, San Francisco
We embrace technology at Territory Studio and feel that design will typeface our future. While we are recognized for unique design capabilities on big-budget feature films, we also bring our design work into real-life products, projects, and experiences. We do this not only because we already benefit from our world-building experience designing on culturally impactful films (including MCU’s Avenger franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ex Machina, The Martian, and Ad Astra), but also because we believe that the future can be a better place for us all.
Our challenges have been astronomical for film, constantly charged with stepping into the future to explore alternate technologies that don’t even exist. Work on Ad Astra with director James Gray is a case in point, a project that saw us knee-deep in research with science and military consultants from JPL and NASA. But this experience allowed for its deeply informed design work, GFX constantly grounded in scientific and military references that give the film an authentic and believable vibe. When we receive a screenplay we work diligently on interpretive breakdowns to identify where story beats can be told more effectively via motion graphics. Working on culturally impactful films in this way has been an amazing experience, but what we also love to do is designing new ways to interact with technology systems in real life. This is where our juices really get flowing... More and more, films featuring future-facing technologies are increasingly shaping consumer expectations while simultaneously driving technological change. For this reason, I believe that design’s ability to leverage a brand’s appeal has never been so important. Since my career began in design, technology has changed dramatically and transformed our lives for the better. Every day there is a new start-up or a new product in need of our services, looking for something fresh and original to help them communicate with audiences. The wearable technology landscape is a burgeoning market worth over $50bn that has come to our attention, an industry that seeks forward-facing design work to attract and maintain buyers. This industry has continued to evolve and offer increasingly sophisticated options for wearers. And so it is important to enhance and improve interface designs to embrace these changes.
Huami recently requested similar UI designs as seen in our catalog of film work for use in its Amazfit Verge smartwatch. They wanted the surface of the watch to embody a fun, bold and futuristic aesthetic that would resonate with users that appreciate quality design. This brief gave us the freedom to bend and flex with ideas in new and exciting ways, ultimately pushing the visual language of the vivid AMOLED interface to create something fresh and unique, bringing the fantasy world of film into real-world technology. The future in wearables offers exciting opportunities. We will see the emergence of smart textile technologies that will see brands offering us a multitude of clothing accessories. Fashion design in a high-tech culture will take on a new, bold approach as nanofibers and nano-coated clothing provides wearers with an insight into their body’s internal workings, giving us the opportunity to design on flexible and semi-transparent OLED displays. We will see garments detecting our posture and movement, mapping our bodies and signaling to us when we are slouching or bending, even changing color according to our emotions. Meanwhile, Human Machine Interface (HMI) services for automakers continue to grow at our company, busy articulating design concepts that connect drivers with next-gen technology. It is another industry embracing change and in need of effective design work to connect new technologies to drivers. Not so long ago everything in our cars was mechanical, even the clock on the dashboard was analog! Now the inside of most vehicles has become screen dominant. Our ability to use 3D real-time rendering tools has helped us immensely as we design, especially for auto clients such as Lincoln. Big processors are a thing of the past, and we can render photorealistic designs very quickly, a highly valuable resource to run different scenarios that show Lincoln what drivers will encounter on the road. They see firsthand how new technology works, and experience traveling at 20mph compared to, say, 80mph where reaction time is a huge factor.
I also feel that there is a need for us to invest in solutions that lead to a safer and more sustainable future. Recent collaborative work with Fuseproject springs to mind, an Ives Béhar shop that develops cohesive brand and product experiences. It was a fascinating project that envisions faster and more efficient movement for people living in busy, bustling cities. Tasked with designing a model of a near-future metropolis, the work demonstrates the potential of automated mobility in comfortable travel pods that predict a passenger’s needs – a fleet of personalized pods facilitating fluid movement within a city’s already entrenched transportation infrastructure.
These are the kind of exciting ideas that we see companies creating, and it is this kind of work that gives me faith in our future. Brands come knocking on our door because they are excited about our vision of the future, as well as our ability to anticipate their customer’s needs in a sometimes frantic and fast forward world.