„First of all disruption is a very negative word to me that does not necessarily bring you forward or make you do something new in a positive sense.“ Jeppe Aaen


DESIGNBOTE sprach mit Gastredner Jeppe Aaen von der dänischen Agentur HELLO MONDAY


Design ist nicht, was hierzulande immer noch in den Köpfen vorherrscht: Design ist weder reine Formgebung, noch geht es um „Aufhübschen“. Design ist Sinn- und Ideengebung. Daher fordern wir ein Umdenken: im Kopf, der Gesellschaft und der Wirtschaft sowie ein „neues“ Designverständnis, als Deutschlands vielleicht letzte Chance, dem Silicon Valley und China Paroli zu bieten.“

Das komplette Interview in der deutschen Version finden Sie hier


DESIGNBOTE spoke with keynote speaker Jeppe Aaen from Danish design agency HELLO MONDAY.

Mr. Aaen, how do you earn your money? 

„I’m creative director and founding partner at Hello Monday, sitting in the Aarhus office aka the Mothership.“


Do politicians, do politics (beyond stereotyped lipservice) understand the all compassing meaning and economic value of design? (Did they ever?) 

„I don’t think we as designers can expect politicians to understand the value of design before we understand the complexity of welcoming 300.000 refugees to your country and taking care that everything runs smoothly. But I believe that we can find a place where we learn to understand each other’s challenges and maybe we can start showing the politicians the big potential in design thinking and how we approach a given problem so we may contribute to the solutions.“


Can you describe/ outline what the organisers of adc congress call „the ’new‘ understanding of design“? 

„The new understanding of design is making sure that we design responsibly and not just for the sake of more money, more likes, more clicks, but for at better place for everybody.“


Whenever i read the motto ‚disrupting creativity‘ i imaginate a cowboy shoting into his foot. What could possibly be wrong with my perception? 

„First of all disruption is a very negative word to me that does not necessarily bring you forward or make you do something new in a positive sense. So yes, it is a little bit like shooting yourself in the foot. I believe that Donald Trump is a good example of somebody who disrupted an area without necessarily bringing it forward to something better. Before you disrupt something you should listen and understand and try to solve things together.“


I have the impression that this whole congress is a plea to re-think design. 

„Hopefully you will go from this conference inspired to do something meaningful with your skills something that changes your perception of what you can do within your field.“


For which aspects in the self-image of german designers would you as a Danish colleague have suggestions? 

„If I should only look at my area which is mostly within digital design I am amazed at how rarely I stumble upon a German designer who works with clients outside of Germany. Your country is so big that it sometimes seems like you have enough just taking care of German design issues. But I think it is a shame that you don’t look beyond your borders because I believe a lot of your solutions can be applied to the rest of the world and maybe the world can inspire you to do things differently as well. Coming from a small country I think that is our biggest advantage, that we have to make the world our playground, because if we didn’t, we would be fighting over the same ten projects with our Danish colleagues.“


How do you like Stuttgart as a scene for the congress? 

„The closest I’ve been to Stuttgart is eating a wurst from that region, but I’m looking very much forward to seeing the city.“


Isn’t the designer partner in crime and sidekick of neo-liberalism? If so, how can he avoid this role?

„Designers have a tendency to hold a passive role until they are being asked to solve a certain problem. We should be much more proactive analyzing where we could be helpful and solve potential problems.“


Do designers have to work along guiding ethical principles, humanist ideals? 

„If you don’t have ethical principles I think you should consider finding some – being aware of what the consequences of what you are designing are, whether it is making people addicted to their smartphones or marketing for an oil company in Russia.“


Does a designer have to chose the camp he’d fight for: his client or the final user/ audience? 

„Always choose the final user’s side, and yes, sometimes it’s a tough fight but it is worth it.“


What do you reply to those criticising disruption as job-distructing? (Is there such a thing as positive disruption?) 

„Disruption as I mentioned is a negative word, an excuse not to listen but to just do it your way. Accept several ways of doing things, become a part of it and from there on you will have the power to change. Dialogue is the key.“


Please name us one (or more) favorite example(s) for disrupting design/creativity. 

„I think that I’ve become blind to solutions that are disrupting a certain area, but I think an initiative such as the Index Award https://designtoimprovelife.dk/ forcing the designer to do good is a great example of how to actually make ideas and design that improve people’s everyday lives. If you do that you get awarded.“


Do you unveil us how your keynote ’The power of saying no!‘  will be structured? Just a glimpse? 

„A lot of NOs and a small amount of YESs. It will be about taking back control over what you do as a designer and having ethical principles. It’s hard to say no when somebody is waving a huge amount of money in front of you, but being able to think 2 years ahead might help you.“


What would you personally like to achive at adc design congress? 

„I hope that I will listen to some inspiring talks and of course have some interesting discussions in the breaks about our role as designers.“


Mister Aaen, thanks for your time!