Corporate and creative currencies

9 months after he wrote for us in our first issue, we caught up with Simon Waterfall RDI, vice president and creative director of OnCue, to dig a little deeper into his background

3 min read

Which genres of the arts do you enjoy the most?

Photography. Simply put, I have had a camera in my pocket since the first smart phone, taking, recording and sharing images at any moments notice is now as common as someone owning a watch. So now owning Leica’s most advanced and expensive camera means I have to learn all the things I have forgotten, focus, shutter, apertures. Image. Back to craft, knowledge and a physical effort to make it attractive, rather than enabling.

Do they inspire your work directly or indirectly?

The problems in different disciplines always inspire you to look again at your own work. The difference between direct and indirect I think is so blurred today, inspiration has no North or South, it’s about ‘Mesh’ intelligence rather than isolation, to use a Silicon Valley word of the moment.

‘Mesh’ intelligence it is! Btw, do you take part in any arts yourself?

I was very lucky to be given an Erasmus scholarship at University and studied stone sculpting with a Japanese Master in Berlin for six months. Taking that forward when I went to the Royal College of Art meant I did more projects in every other discipline than mine, Industrial Design. As they say, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous/distracting thing.’

You’re also doing extremely well as a businessman, how have the arts helped you in business – in terms of what you have produced, your vision and ambition, and also the teams you have managed?

My understanding of the arts, and especially how to communicate with and harness the artists that make them, has been essential among the learnings that I have taken into business. The most successful businesses in the world very rarely include design at board level, the ones that have have become enormously fast, connected and focused, which are not adjectives you would normally associate with the arts and artists.

How have business skills had a positive impact on your creativity?

Learning how things are created gives you insight into how they may be deflated. The currency of business is success, whereas the currency of creativity is failure. Living with them both is essential to having balance between the risks you take and the impact you are looking for.

Could you think of a few companies that exemplify this balance – past, present, famous, or unknown?

My favourite companies are the ones that continue to re invent their relevance to the constant changing culture but somehow retaining their heritage and values. Mini under BMW, Burberry under Christopher Bailey, Lego to the digital born child.

Finally, what three works of art across all genres do you love the most?

Rosenquist’s ‘I love you with my Ford’
Dieter Rams’ vision of product (Braun)
Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Falling Water’ or ‘Ennis House’

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