Interview with Simone Ferrari: building memories before they take place
He is the youngest creative director to have ever designed an Olympic-sized ceremony: it was the 2017 Aimag Games closing ceremony, in Ashgabat.
At only 28, Simone Ferrari was appointed to head the creative department at Balich Worldwide Shows, one of the leading and fastest growing companies in the large-scale shows and live entertainment world. Last September, 2 days after his 30th birthday, Simone became the youngest creative director to have ever designed an Olympic-sized ceremony: It was the 2017 Aimag Games closing ceremony in Ashgabat.
He has worked in some of the most complex and challenging environments in the world, always delivering top quality results for the client and the audience. His multidisciplinary approach focuses on the development of new forms of storytelling and entertainment, combined with a strong sense of visual direction and a keen interest in audience involvement and interaction.
He leads the creative process with great respect for his team, and believes in creating shows that are both moving and based on thorough research.
What does Design have to do with Entertainment? In which ways does it perform?
“Creating a show is designing an emotional experience which will take place in front of the audience eyes, and this means that as “showmakers” we have the create a whole world that has to be coherent from many artistic points of views and Design is part of it.
When you’re creating a show, you’re exploring a new world while you’re creating it. So as designers we have to find aesthetics and functional ideas that can fit this world with a sense. From the most ethereal object possibile, the light, to a tangibile scenic element everything has to be coherent and right for the visions we are designing at the moment.
It takes an enormous work from all the design departments involved such as video, costumes, production design, music design and more. All these elements have to intersecate and play with each other creating a sort of polyphony made of different design disciplines.”
You are well known for iconographic initiatives, which always request a high dose of originality. How does your creative process work?
“I wouldn’t affirm that we have a replicable and scalable creative process which could fit any initiative, but certainly our shows even if very different from an output point of view share a common approach.
We create and produce shows which have to be spectacular, understandable for a universal audience, have to be emotional and joyful at the same time. This is the manifesto of our company and the vision of our chairman Marco Balich, a vision that he recently shared publicly at the 2017 Business of Design Week in Hong Kong.
We gave to ourselves some basic rules that definitely help each one of the BWS’s creative designers to follow this approach: you must use different show languages and you must merge from various cultures. These 2 simple rules force each one of us to push our boundaries in terms of show language and cultural knowledge, which makes our creative process more unpredictable and based on a common effort of doing something never done before.”
You build memories before they take place. How do you know you succeeded? What are the main elements you consider to know whether you reached your goals?
“Building memories before they take place” is a perfect synthesis of what we do, actually! Personally when I create I always try to start with the image, the moment, that I would like to see visually on stage, as a sort of extreme simplification and essence of what I would like to tell in a specific show.
You have to trust and be committed to your feeling that this image will speak not only to yourself but also to a wider audience, and I would say that this is first step to create something significative, because you truly believe in it.
With shows you are in the realm of the ethereal, of the emotions and so your work as to be full of it. Would be impossible to parametrize our work or process in order to find a perfect formula to make a show work, but is also true that we have created and we know by heart a vocabulary and a grammar which can help in the creative process.
All of these elements join together seamlessly on stage during the show addressing the audience and their emotions, trying to speak with an universal language that crosses all the cultural boundaries in place and touches each one of the audience members from a different angle.
We create stories that has to be understandable despite of your age, your background and your culture, then of course there will be different layers of comprehension for each one of them because the shows we do are accessible but not simple!
And when we reach it we know that we accomplished our main brief that was to traslate into images values, stories and emotions for everyone in order to create memories.”
How much does human interaction impact on your projects? Is it the premise or consequence of your ideas?
“Human beings and their interaction are the main triggers of every show we do. We tell stories about humanity and the forces behind it. It could be the story of a country put on scene with thousands of fierce voluntaries or the story of the Sistine Chapel creation by Michelangelo, his creative and personal struggle in creating one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever created (as in our first IP show “Giudizio Universale. Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel”).
Even if very different they are both stories based on the human experience because this is the base, I would say the core, of the creation of the universal language I was mentioning previously that anyone can understand and be sympathetic to it.”
About Balich Worldwide Shows
Balich Worldwide Shows is an Italian–based firm, operating all around the world in the entertainment production market. BWS creates, designs and produces Olympic Ceremonies, live events, ground breaking celebrations and new entertainment formats.
Marco Balich, Gianmaria Serra and Simone Merico founded the company in 2013, after more than twenty years of cutting-edge and successful experiences in global events. They joined forces, to combine different skills and share a vision of a new era in the creation of unforgettable shows. BWS has already demonstrated its reliability and attitude in the latest significant global productions.
Among the most spectacular productions there are the artistic direction of the Italian Pavilion and the creation of the iconic Tree of Life for Expo Milano 2015. Balich’s team Olympic experience includes the iconic ceremonies for Torino 2006, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 (produced by CC2016) and the Flag Handovers of Salt Lake City 2002, London 2012 and Tokyo 2020.
BWS is the first company part of Worldwide Shows Corporation (WSCorp) the holding company specialized in the live entertainment and communication industry.