Alaa Mendili is a Creative Director with Digital Kitchen (DK). Describing himself as a Creative Technologist, he views design with the lens that we already live in the future. He has guest lectured at Seattle Central Creative Academy for the past three years and his work continues to inspire the program and creatives worldwide. We sat down with him to learn more about his favorite donut (coconut), whether or not he thinks beards are on-trend (yes), and whether or not poutine can be eaten in sandwich form (nope).
What’s your work life at DK?
I work on a wide range of interactive projects, from websites to interactive installations. So my role is to lead some of these projects, present to clients, lead the team. My day consists often of putting treatments together, gathering ideas and also sometimes producing some of them.
Recent exciting projects ready to share?
I worked on a project for HTC not too long ago for the new VR (Virtual Reality) headset. Virtual Reality is something you can’t really describe without trying it. So coming up with ideas on how to convey that is super interesting. The client was fun to work with and it was a project I was pretty happy with.
Website built by DK for HTC ReVive here.
As a creative technologist, and as a designer in the digital world, how do you see your work in relation to the history of design?
Design is design. Obviously the medium changes over time. Technology plays a huge part when it comes to being a digital creative but at the end of the day technology is just a means to an end. The process for me is not very different of coming up with an idea for something digital versus something for print. Theres still a big idea – if its well thought through it is something that could turn into something print or something digital without losing its essence. Digital to me is not different from designing the interior of a house. Thats why as creatives we have the skills to take these to different places.
Mendili collaborated to create the Field project, working with Nosaj Thing for Nike+FuelBand and Dazed. An interactive experience with your keyboard and the music, creating textures and movement that shifts as you move.
Stanley the piano is always one that is very dear to me because it was an internal project so it could serve a purely creative purpose. And it is an idea I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time, an idea that I’ve tried to pitch to clients and it just never happened and then we just decided to do it internally.
Mendili is frequently traveling for work, attending or speaking at conferences. He presented to OFFF in Mexico City and Montreal on innovation and in Barcelona at Sitges NEXT Festival of Innovation in Communication and New Media.
I enjoy listening to designers speak about their process and get a behind the scene look at the work they do. That’s what I try to share when I speak at a conference. I also like to talk about my personal experience and share some of my learnings and talk about things that helped me be a better creative.
DK’s work on an installation at LAX airport provides an opportunity to engage with content while moving through the new Bradley International Terminal. The digital installation creates a time shifting space that visitors can revel in while experiencing a storyline that connects LA to other cities across the world.
What do you have to say to beginner designers?
A lot of things that we see today were impossible 5, 10 years ago. Now it is affordable to have a camera and shoot a movie. Theres no limits. Really let our ideas be wild and figure out a way to do them. As a student you may limit yourself by thinking that you can’t do something but to me school is the perfect opportunity to find your voice. Keep being opinionated and find your voice as a creative and as an artist.
Al’s website can be seen here www.alaa.se.