We’re happy to tell you the good news: One of TRE’s Founding Partners, Teemu Suviala, has been appointed as a Creative Director at Facebook. We had a quick talk about his personal mission regarding Finnish design, his vision on the future of retail, and his new position in San Francisco.
Congratulations Teemu! You are moving to California to your new position as a Creative Director at Facebook.
What will you be doing there?
Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected. That will naturally be the main driver for me and my team as we elevate the experiences we all have with everyone around the planet. For the past few years, alongside leading design and creative itself, I have been working intensely on brand strategies, diving deep into customer experiences, defining and nurturing creative cultures in different organizations, and helping to define the true purposes of companies, why they exist in the first place, and exploring how work, services, and products can be more meaningful to people. All these experiences, skills, and thinking, together with endless curiosity for what future holds, will be much needed in my new role.
You were approached also by other very high-profile organizations, from big art museums to fashion and sportswear brands, doing some radical, ambitious work. What made you choose Facebook?
The opportunity to make a positive impact on massive, global scale, with the most forward-thinking and innovative people on the planet.
Also, I look forward to all the future technologies and research to play with. The company just recently announced some exciting new things that varied from social virtual reality (which enables you to throw a Twin Peaks viewing party at International Space Station with your best friends, for example) to augmented reality art and from new developments in AI to technologies that allow people to interact with computers using just their thoughts.
The big, shared mission on openness and connectedness is something that is truly energizing and inspiring. This is where I felt I need to be right now. And keep on constantly learning.
Constant learning and curiosity seem to have been a big driver on your career?
Yes. Life is always in beta mode. It is a messy, random event we are lucky to experience and learn from. Curiosity helps you to stay resilient, and enjoy and take advantage of all the randomness.
For years you have been focusing on your career abroad, but at the same time you have been building TRE as a Founding Partner. What is your relationship to Finnish design and lifestyle?
I have a personal mission to push Finnish design forward, whether it is through my work or helping others to succeed out there in the world. There’s a lot of groundbreaking design and skillful creators in Finland but taking it all abroad seems to be difficult, or not even of interest. I want to help companies and individuals to go out there and have a shot at it.
These days I see myself very much as a connector. Connecting is in the core of my work anyway. Creativity is all about combining ideas, people, and technologies in surprising, unseen ways.
At the time when Design Forum Shop, a former flagship store for Finnish design in Helsinki, was still up and running, together with TRE’s CEO and Founder Tanja Sipilä, you created a new concept of curating and selling Finnish lifestyle which later became TRE. What was your vision of the future of consumerism and retail?
It’s about bridging brick-and-mortar and online, blending them as an augmented experience where both are equally relevant at the same time. Think about physical environments where you go to experience something unique, to be part of a larger story, and all your shopping is done digitally or with help of chatbots for example.
Also, what excites me in offline, physical stores is the opportunity to have an impact on the urban culture, the holistic landscape surrounding the store.
André Balazs, the legendary hotelier behind the Standard Hotels, has often pushed the collaborative crafting of a hotel experience to a more holistic cultural development for a neighborhood. This can be applied to any service that has a physical appearance, even if it was just a tiny hot dog stand.
Your family will move to California along with you. How do you see your everyday life change from what it is now in New York?
San Francisco and Bay Area has it’s own culture and pace. It will definitely be more outdoorsy and relaxed than our life now in New York. Everyday life will probably be the same though, built around our kids, their comings and goings.
I will miss the buzz, diversity, and surprises in New York though: full-packed sweaty subway, art openings, hidden gritty bars and clubs and restaurants, movie stars in school yard, Solange singing next to me at the Guggenheim, the next big things.
Teemu Suviala is a Founding Partner of TRE and responsible for brand strategy. He is a professional in branding, working at the moment as Executive Creative Director at Collins in New York. His clients include leading global brands, such as Spotify, Coca-Cola, and Target. Before moving to Collins he held a similar position at Wolff Olins in New York. Suviala is also a founding partner of the awarded creative agency Kokoro & Moi in Helsinki. He is now moving from New York to California to join Facebook as a Creative Director.
Interview: Salli Raeste
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