29 June 2016 – The night we all fell in love with Snask and VAG

With a slightly fuzzy head the morning after a couple of pints I hardly feel qualified to write-up such a rock n’ roll evening that was Snask and the legend that were VAG #itmeansroad but as our resident blogger and all round Design/​Rock chick Kerry is struck down with the lurgy it has fallen on my shoulders.

In a bleak week for the UK with (as Freddie himself pointed out) two Brexits, a joyful evening of crazy yet drippingly cool Swedish Design and Rock was just what we all needed.

It was an evening like no other WEDF evening has been and can ever be again, Snask (meaning candy, filth and gossip all at the same time) epitomise their own mantra – when you are professional be professional and when you are rock n’ roll be fucking rock n’ roll.

It was the legend that is Fredirk Öst – Creative Director and one of the founders of Snask that was our compère for the evening, eloquent, funny, insightful and not particularly complimentary about the city of Carlisle where he studied. He introduced the band and talked about the Snask way, their company photo-shoots, (the perfect opportunity to do something for themselves without client intervention), the dressing up, the tattoos, the wild nights out, the wild nights in, the exaggerated truths’ of their experience of lecturing to initially get them onto the lecture circuit – all proof that they enjoy having fun with their work and working hard at their fun. They also mentioned a phrase that I enjoyed at Snask it is OK to drink milk from a bottle’ – which I believe translates as a combination of being down to earth and being who you are. They of course have their own record label, hence VAG, and like all good hipsters they have started brewing their own beer (his words not mine).

The talk was divided into the following sections:

  • We do lecturing
  • Brand yourself damnit
  • Don’t mix rock n’ roll with professional
  • Cost control
  • Push your ideas
  • Secret design strategy of Snask
  • Anyone want to party?

Just for good measure, each title slide was interpreted by the band (of course) as an impromptu mini-musical hiatus.

It was hard to focus on the work through the raining down of the gold and pink confetti cannons and the anecdotal stories of hilarious proportions about the Snask team, but a couple of projects really resonated with me so I will share them with you.

Branding of the 30th Malmöfestivalen resulted in beautiful 3D sculptural typographic installation that was then photographed with just the right amount of shadow, with meticulous manual kerning from a very high crane, creating the image for the posters and adverts. These 3D structures were Snask’s vision of a physical embodiment of the brand of the festival. They took over a huge area for the public to use, the type having been designed to withstand being jumped on by Swedish hipsters for eight days.

For Folkoperan, one of Sweden’s finest opera houses, they created a stop motion film to promote the theme of love. Stop motion created whilst the camera was also moving captured the imagined erotic scenes that go down when the curtains close and musical instruments are left to their own devices. Ever wondered how baby piccolos are made? Wonder no longer… The music recorded with the help of the opera house’s orchestra making erotic sounds with their flutes and violin strokes – under the conductor’s strict supervision of course. Freddie found a surprising amount of advice available to him from members of the orchestra about how the instruments actually copulate – curious level of knowledge. And in true Snask style they arranged flash mob Opera singers, planted in audiences to provide live accompaniment when this promotional film was shown in cinemas across Sweden.

They talked about the expectations of people coming to their company after seeing one of their talks and expecting it to be all rock n’ roll and finding the opposite – don’t mix rock n’ roll with professional – they work hard, really hard – they just party hard when the time is right. They were honest in their admittance that only about 50% of their work ends up being shown on their website just because of circumstances beyond their control. They encouraged us to push our ideas and used a couple of obligatory quotes by famous people that we know, When you make something that no one hates, no one love it’, Tibor Kalman. You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in you life’, Winston Churchill and one by the Swedish polymath August Stindberg that we perhaps don’t, By trying the impossible one should reach the highest grade of possible’.

Snask started by telling us they have two objectives for each lecture they do – 1. Make sure we don’t fall asleep and 2. Make the audience smile five times in one lecture. I never came close to dozing-off, I was smiling as I swept up the confetti cannons (so rock n’ roll) and am still smiling about their talk about five times a day now, so I think we can safely say they exceeded those objectives.

And then came VAG #dontforgetitmeansroad

Well, you really had to be there.