ZAAK: The art of storytelling through new technologies
Text: Marilena Stracke | Photos: Zaak
The team at Zurich-based design studio ZAAK transforms grand storytelling into new digital platforms and projects. CEO Martin Richi and artist Anna Wiget explore how to connect 3D Design and interactive installations. The sky’s the limit – or actually, for this creative powerhouse, even the sky is just a tiny obstacle to overcome. They create worlds with no boundaries.
ZAAK is far more than your average design studio. It’s a professional creative melting pot for ideas and the future of our digital world is partly shaped here. Storytelling always remains at its heart, however.
Martin remembers the early days when ZAAK was founded, 12 years ago: “From the very beginning of our collaborations, we wanted to tell unique stories and express them through a spectrum of new technologies. Our thirst for adventure and our interest in actively helping to shape new developments kept spurring us on to just do our own thing.” The concept worked.
Collaboration over competition
The corporate philosophy of ZAAK places great importance on community: ‘Collaboration over competition’ is one thing they value highly. ZAAK has built an incredible network of professionals from the world of tech and design. A new team of experts is assigned to every project, which makes it possible to cater to every scale.
Anna points out that behind every project or digital surface are human beings. They take centre stage here. “Great communication is first and foremost based on interacting with each other in a stress-free, relaxed way. It creates a strong foundation for any creative collaboration and enables an unbound thinking process,” she says.
Martin continues: “We want to break down old patterns, find new forms and connect them.” Hence, ZAAK doesn’t follow pre-given corporate structures. Instead, it successfully keeps defining its own. In that sense the team describes ZAAK as ‘lightweight’ or ‘modular’, as there are, for example, no physical headquarters or office rooms. It’s a bold move for a company with such an impressive track record and it underlines the fact that they not only vow to do things a little differently, but they actually live by that standard.
The loose structures keep them flexible; everything always stays in motion. It also means the team doesn’t have to take on each and every project in order to meet financial company targets. This freedom allows them to remain authentic. They are anything but mainstream.
The pioneers of virtual and augmented reality are ready for new challenges
ZAAK offers a wide range of services around the art of interactive storytelling. This includes digital concepts, content production, and the realisation of interactive visual installations. Final products are centrepieces for public or corporate spaces, apps, web design, 3D design, virtual and augmented reality.
Martin adds: “We bring different partners from industry, cultural organisations, the arts and science together. This makes for a unique network which we use to realise exceptional projects for each of our clients. Through interactive storytelling we send the viewer onto a great journey, one that merges design, functionality and fascination.”
ZAAK is a true pioneer. Five years ago, they worked on the very first virtual reality hardware and software with Google. The team is always dedicated to taking on new challenges. How can the sensory components we use to orient ourselves in space and time enter into a flowing symbiosis with digital content? How can you interconnect screen-human to human-human? It’s questions like these that fascinate the two and are the engine for their innovative thinking.
Being brave enough to be different
ZAAK’s service range is particularly tailored to clients who would like to communicate abstract content and context. Their clients often prove to be as bold and forward-thinking as the ZAAK team itself. Among their clients are well-known companies such as MUDEC Fondazione Prada, BWM, Museum Rietberg, Swiss Government, Hublot, KPMG, Credit Suisse and Red Bull.
As prestigious as this sounds on paper, Martin quickly points out that it’s not important at ZAAK how renowned a client is. What truly matters is the specific project and the people behind it. The team at ZAAK puts its heart and soul into whatever creative journey they embark on and that is palpable in the result.
Inspiration comes from: “Space – Travel – Quantum Physics – Art. I was always interested in narratives,” Anna says. “How language and image, both as a medium, can sculpt realities in any given moment. I am deeply inspired by scientific research and parallel universes.”
Martin, the passionate alpinist, adds: “Like climbing mountains, the undiscovered, beyond imagination, is given form and shape with every single step.”
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