Introducing you to one of our Dutch Digital Design curators. Our panel of creative experts who scout new digital and interactive work. Work that caught their eye, and - according to them - deserves to be in the spotlight. Together they select the amazing cases you will find on our Dutch Digital Design website, and that are promoted on our social media channels - Instagram and LinkedIn - and other (international) media platforms like The Drum. This month we talk with Aurelija Mockeviciute. Aurelija is a senior visual designer at our partner agency Clever°Franke. A Dutch data design and technology agency that uses data to create interactive experiences. Clever°Franke was recently awarded Red Dot Agency of the Year 2023.
Aurelija’s road to becoming a visual designer - in the Netherlands
Born in Marijampolė, Lithuania. Now living in Utrecht. Aurelija studied Graphic Design at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. First set to study industrial design because she wanted to make physical things. However, due to unforeseen exam scheduling, Aurelija ended up in the Graphic Design programme. Here she developed her passion for graphic design.
She then continued her journey to the Netherlands. Aurelija realised that digital was big here, and was curious to explore how she could combine digital with her graphic design background. Next step: sending out her portfolio which resulted in her getting an internship at Dutch Digital Design partner agency Bravoure. Her role was varied: from making an acrylic doorhanger for access to the meeting rooms to her first exploratory steps in UX and UI design.
What she loved most about working at Bravoure? The fact that it was a digital agency, and their arts and culture clients. During her time at Bravoure, Aurelija was mentored by two great designers: Vanessa Wong and Kalok Yeung. She loved the fact that it helped her seeing herself doing this job too in a few years, having Vanessa as an example.
After the internship at Bravoure, Aurelija worked for 2.5 years at Build in Amsterdam - also a Dutch Digital Design partner agency. No longer as an intern but as a designer. Here she learned everything about making a website, but also about the process of working in a digital agency. How teams and different roles collaborate together, working on projects for RED Company, Suit Supply, Mammut and Land of Ride.
Her time at Build in Amsterdam coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst working from home, Aurelija had time to re-think her values and felt she needed a fresh start and a new challenge.
In comes Clever°Franke where she now works happily as a senior visual designer.
What does a visual designer do? At a data visualisation agency.
‘Visual designers focus on the aesthetics of a website, app or any other digital design. As a visual designer, you are responsible for the UI (User Interface). You focus on the visual aspect. Whereas UX (User Experience) designers do not need to necessarily be visual designers, I believe visual designers need to understand the principles of UX design. Like wireframing: visualising the skeleton of a digital application, showing how everything interacts to create a fluid experience.
However, I strongly feel that UX and visual designers need to work together in order to create a fluid journey. From content and look and feel to the wireframes and overall experience.
At Clever°Franke we create experiences that are focused on data visualisation. With data we are able to tell a real story. This means that we are not just data driven, we create stories based on data, with data.
I always work closely with the UX designer on a project. This gives my role as a visual designer more depth. It allows me to be involved in the user interviews and testing. For me, that is essential - and also inspiring - to be able to design an interface based on the interaction with the end user. It is great to see the reactions of users. This way I can incorporate their feedback and ideas within my design to optimise the experience. And it also helps to convince our clients when they see that we have truly considered the feedback from their users in the design. So, UX results help optimise designs and visualisation.
Working with data does make the process more complex, and often more challenging. Because we can’t just create something that looks beautiful. Data adds an extra level of complexity. Some might say it gives you less freedom. I believe it adds depth and purpose.
The client shares their data with us - sometimes that as much as they do. The brief is to create something meaningful with the data provided. This means that we have to understand their data inside and out in order to visualise it, and to create an experience that translates their data into a relevant story. So, actually - for me - it gives us more freedom. The route to explore what to do with the data is like a fun adventure.’
Modem & the Nike Air Max Pulse installation
‘When I was working as an intern at Bravoure, Bas van de Poel (now co-founder of Modem - together with Astin le Clerq) had a workspace in the same building. That’s when the intrigue for Modem’s work started, and it hasn’t stopped yet. Modem explores the impact of (future) technology on life. Their research partners include Harvard GSD, MIT and UC Berkeley.
They look at scenarios about what life is going to look like when using certain (future) technologies. Many of their research papers have been awarded: recently they received a Dutch Design Award for their complete portfolio of research papers. Research papers that aim to start a discussion about up-and-coming technologies and their effects on our lives.
Same with the Nike Air Max Pulse installation for Nike’s House of Innovation (flagship store) in Paris. The installation uses generative AI, and - more specifically - the AI image generator DALL·E 2. Letting visitors remix their own ‘feeling of air’ through unique AI-generated visuals. The interactive image-mixing table allows each guest to create one-of-a-kind images that captured the essence of Air Max. Visitors play with the controls on the mixing table, selecting from predefined prompt components that are continuously transmitted to the DALL·E 2 model. It represents a novel and creative application of AI technology in the retail space.
Not only its visual appearance captivates me, but also the wealth of inspiring ideas it sparks. For me, it is an exemplary approach to exploring generative AI in a manner that makes it accessible to a diverse audience. In the current landscape, there is a growing divide between those who effortlessly navigate emerging technologies and those who find themselves daunted and hesitant.
This is probably not the intended purpose of the Nike installation, but - for me - this installation bridges a gap: it is a creative and engaging way for those who might be apprehensive to interact with and do not comprehend the workings of generative AI. It not only demystifies the technology, but also fosters a space for learning and exploration.
It is totally immersive, and also completely on-brand.’
Data visualisation versus AI
‘The installation from Modem uses Generative AI - creating a different, unexpected story each time a user interacts with it. Generating new data based on each interaction with the user.
How is this different from data visualisation?
At Clever°Franke, we use a fixed data set supplied by the client to help tell a certain story. This graphical representation of information and data tells a story that is intentional and controlled. Unlike AI. AI uses data to tell a probable story, and each story is always slightly different from the next.
However, both data visualisation and AI use complex data relationships and data-driven insights in a way that makes data and its message easier and more accessible to understand.’
Aurelija and AI
‘I feel that AI helps visualise (future) scenarios and products. It offers us new, previously unexplored ways to innovate. It shows us unimaginable and mythical things.
With regards to AI being biased, I believe that AI is not biased, people are. It is our responsibility to recognise and rule out bias, and to learn how to use AI properly. We should never stop asking questions, and keep exploring all possible options.
I believe that our job - as creators - is to educate people about AI. To make it more transparent, and bridge the gap between what we - creators - know and what the public knows. Making it less scary, but also less biased.’