It’s hard to sum up a year – or to predict the one to come – in a singular fashion. For years, trend reports and colour forecasts have tried to do just this. International creative studio YummyColours saw the fleeting and often shallow nature of these predictions as a call to action: how can we look at the year to come in a truly creative, reflective, and meaningful way?
Enter Concept of the Year, YummyColours’ studio initiative which identifies a conceptual theme for the year ahead and collaborates with a variety of creators to share different perspectives on that theme. For the 2021 inaugural edition, YummyColours surfaced the concepts of duality and evolution, which became illustrated by the notion of ‘Fuel on Water.’ Fragile and iridescent, precarious and changing, ‘Fuel on Water’ represents elements that oppose but coexist, and that are at once delicate and colourful.
Here we talk to YummyColours’ co-founder Diego Marini about what it was like collaborating with 55 creators to bring this to life, how we can expect to see Concept of the Year activated throughout 2021, and what drives the studio to create for the sake of creating.
- Toby WilkinsonThis isn’t the first time we’ve seen you create a self-initiated project in the YC Studio –– What motivates you to look beyond traditional client work for a creative output?
Diego MariniIt sounds cliché, but it's incredibly important to carve out time to experiment and express creatively what our studio is feeling and thinking without having a commercial objective. Every year we do several self-started projects. This year, for example, we worked on anti-racist BLM messaging amplification on Instagram, organized a talk series (YC Lab) around accessibility in design and worked on the Concept of the Year. It gives space and amplifies the voices of all our studio members equally, as well as creates energy and cohesion amongst us as a team.
- TWAs a team with highly colourful work and that even has the word ‘colour’ in your studio name, we know colour is an intrinsic part of YC’s DNA. While this project is about so much more than colour, how did your consideration of colour shape this year’s concept of ‘Fuel on Water’?
DMThe concept behind "Fuel on Water" is that opposite can coexist in the same ecosystem. The life we are living with COVID is the perfect example: working and living in the same space, feeling anxious and chilled at the same time, navigating school and work within the same device. ‘Fragile Iridescence’ is the ultimate direction for the concept. It highlights that elements that oppose (e.g. artificial and natural) can coexist within the same ecosystem, resulting in something that is both delicate and incredibly colourful. “Fuel on Water” perfectly represents the fluidity of change within life and suggests that beauty lives in the overlap and exploration of how seemingly distinct ideas and media can share space.
- TWThe collection of submissions feels at once cohesive and vastly varied. Were there any themes you noticed emerge in the responses you received?
DWThis Project started pre-Covid, but we engaged collaborators right at the beginning of the global lockdown. Everybody harvested their emotions, fears, and hopes to get to work on something very personal. I would divide most of the work into 3 buckets: 1) Introspection, questioning, and challenging what is "normal" 2) Blurring the lines between systems often presented as binary 3) Creative work as a form of healing either personally through the practice or for somebody else
- TW Among many things, Concept of the Year feels like an invitation to pause and reflect on the forces that ultimately shape culture. How do you hope Concept of the Year helps shape culture itself for the forthcoming year?
DMBy being an inspiration rather than a prescriptive element. Concept of the Year is something that can be interpreted. It's a starting point rather than an embellishment. It's not one color but rather your color. We hope to grow this into something bigger next year with more participants.
- TWThe variety of creators is stunning - you involved everyone from lawyers to drag personas - and serves as a perhaps unintended reminder that creativity is present in us all. How do you think this variety of creators has impacted/added to the end result?
DMThis was our main goal from the beginning: showing that the Concept of the Year is not something exclusively for designers or brands that are ultimately focused on selling things. It's a universal exploration. The end result goes beyond what is purely aesthetic: it's a collection of unique content that deserves to be read and understood in its depth and beauty.
- TWThis will no doubt be an incredible resource to creatives looking for inspiration - but as an agency that primarily exists to commercially serve clients, how do you see brands engaging with this initiative?
DMWe want to inspire clients to think beyond trends. Yes, selling and end-of-the-year results are important…but looking at what happens in the world and being sensitive about delicate situations is even more so. Take this year for example: people are losing their jobs or have less disposable income. Diversity needs to be integrated into a deeper level in companies. These are not trends – these are important signals from society that need to be addressed not in a performative or timely vogue, but rather in a more considered way that sees them being truly integrated into brands’ culture.
- TWDo you plan to engage with or build on Concept of the Year throughout the year? If so, what can we look forward to?
DMWe want to open the concept up to more people and creatives who can use it as an inspirational tool. Also, if the pandemic tones down we are looking to have a physical exhibition in NY and Copenhagen.