TRIPTK DESIGN’S DANIEL ARENAS TALKS ABOUT LIFE AT THE HELM OF THE BRAND CONSULTANCY’S LATEST VENTURE.
Daniel Arenas ended 2019 with a new task—to lead TRIPTK’s branding and digital design offering, TRIPTK Design. The Head of Design talks about the future of the industry, his passion for New York, and the fascinating global career path that led him to his new role.
Tell us a little about your career. How did you find your way to TRIPTK?
I’ve had a long trajectory ignited by curiosity. I started in multicultural advertising where I learned to communicate a universal truth to a specific audience. Then, I realized I wanted to learn about different industries, cultures, and ways of working, which lead me to freelance in NYC, Singapore, Italy, and Colombia. After that, I landed at Redscout, which allowed me to work with global clients and strategists as a design director. Then, I decided to start my own studio, and after a year of collaborating with TRIPTK, we decided to join forces. I feel that being part of TRIPTK and the Havas family brings the best of both worlds. I can lead and act independently while having the support and infrastructure of the village, which allows us to collaborate with other agencies from the group and truly focus on deepening our expertise.
Can you tell us about your new role and the goals of TRIPTK Design?
The goal of TRIPTK, like Havas, is to make brands meaningful. We think the key to brand transformation is to first decode brands to unearth their essence, and then to recode them using design as a tool to reflect that strategy. We think design can play the role of not only amplifying strategy, but more importantly creating a cultural impact that makes brands lead conversations.
Were you always interested in design? What are some of your earliest memories of this interest?
I was a metal kid and played in metal and hardcore bands growing up in Colombia. I used to make our flyers, album covers, and illustrate our cassette tapes. It was a very time consuming and intricate process, which lead me to design, illustration, and a DYI ethos that I still carry today.
You have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and your design has been exhibited in more than a dozen countries. What has been a career highlight?
Nowadays, as designers and strategists, we have the responsibility to push brands not only to make a profit but to make a change as well. I find that where brands have an honest purpose, we can give them a distinctive voice that creates cultural impact, pushes things forward, and redefines society in areas like sustainability, diversity, inclusivity, and gender equality, to name a few.
What is the future of the industry? What trends do you foresee for 2020?
The future is all about design systems instead of assets. Brands need to think more about design principles and behaviors than a 300-page brand guideline book. Brands have to anticipate platforms that don’t even exist yet. How would a brand look and behave in augmented reality AR? How can a brand sound in an immersive installation? How can we capture the brand feeling in just an Instagram post? How does time and motion affect brands?
This four-dimensional approach adds complexity for our clients and greater flexibility, while staying consistent is imperative to create a meaningful connection with consumers. This is extremely exciting because design is taking a more central role in defining the relevance of brands.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I think in visual terms. I honestly don’t see myself doing anything that is not related to bringing a concept to life. I would probably have an editorial imprint, making books and giving artists and writers a platform, which is not too different from what I do right now.
What personality trait do you wish you had?
I hate to be the “creative cliché” but I’m a bit messy! Some people get terrified to see my computer desktop while I’m doing research. The more you work and collaborate with a team, the more you have to get organized to keep things flowing. I love tools like Asana and Notion that can capture information and streamline the workflow. But I still like the messiness of analog research, scribbling, and having a pile of books and magazines to look at. It helps to create connections easily.
You’re based in New York. What are your favorite things to do in the city?
I love this city. It’s been home for 15 years, and part of the reason why I’ve been able to survive is that I like to keep things simple. I like to ride my Citi Bike as much as possible, go to look at magazines at McNally Jackson or books at Strand, go people watching on Spring Street, walk with my dog in Fort Greene Park, or spend time at home with my girlfriend and friends. Authentic and low key always beat fancy.
What was the last film you loved?
I’m extremely interested in the work of Arthur Jafa, an American artist and “visual anthropologist,” whose work was represented in the Venice Biennale. His work is not a film per se, but it uses still images and found footage to create narratives about the multidimensional African American identity. It’s extremely simple, yet extremely powerful. It creates interesting connections and helps you see the big picture, which I find very inspiring. If you stop by the MoMA, go check it out.