EPISODE #27 || Felix Ng, Co-Founder of Anonymous

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Felix fell into starting his own design studio 13 years ago, and has been figuring it out ever since. Hear his perspective on the importance of designers who read, translating what we do creatively into something that clients can understand, A Design Film Festival (started by Anonymous in 2010), and the creative explosion in Asia (specifically Shanghai and Bangkok).

Heads up: Singapore was brutally hot and humid when we recorded last summer, so you're going to hear the AC/fan noise in the background. Just close your eyes and imagine you're actually in a Singaporean agency. 

I'm going to be a the 3% Movement's Super Bowl Tweetup at POSSIBLE LA this Sunday. It's free, and a great way to meet other badass women in the industry in a non-networking setting. If you're based in LA, I'd love to see you there! Register here.

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Topics Discussed

  • How being late for school led him to figuring out how to be a designer, and how needing a business bank account to get paid for a project led him to start his own design studio—something he was never planning on doing.
  • Balancing the work that pays the bills, and the work that allows you to find your voice as a creative.
  • Realizing the importance of research and context in design, and the case for designers who read. 
  • Translating what we do creatively into something that clients can understand.
  • Thinking about how AI will disrupt traditional advertising agencies, and how that will affect designers. 
  • A Design Film Festival, which Anonymous started in 2010—how is started as a way for non-designers to understand design, how it’s evolved past the traditional definition of design, and how helps designers be successful by exposing superstar designers in times of doubt.
  • The creative explosion in Asia Pacific, including what’s going on in Shanghai and Bangkok. 

Mic Drops

“A lot of people in our field spend a lot of time consuming design, art, music, film to inspire themselves. [...] And I think we used to feel like we need to keep ourselves updated in terms of what kind of design or what kind of art is being created out there, and then you use that and remix that to inform our own work we do. How we have been doing it in the last few years is that I spend a lot of time reading. It’s because I feel very strongly that good ideas come from words. It very rarely comes from images or any kind of visual elements, but from words. I’ve been a very big advocate for designers to read.”

“Don’t just be the stereotype of what a designer is. We are visual, creative people, but to be more strategic, more intellectual about why we’re explaining a concept. Being very logical and facts and research-based when you speak to your clients.”

“I feel that increasingly the power will shift. Clients won’t need to go to agencies anymore. They will be building their own in-house teams. And I think that’s going to be a very big challenge for studios, designers and creatives. So that’s why we’re quite obsessed with keeping up with not just design, but everything else that is affecting it.”

Resources Mentioned

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About Anonymous

Anonymous is a multidisciplinary studio based in Singapore, providing Creative Direction, Content and Design.

Established in March 2005, the studio are the creators of A Design Film Festival, Bracket, plusminusten and the upcoming Made in Singapore film. Since its inception, Anonymous has staged its events in Portland, Berlin, Latvia, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and has featured over 150 creative professional across 20 cities.

Anonymous has been internationally recognised with awards from the British Design & Art Direction, Art Directors Club New York, Hong Kong Design Association and the Creative Circle Awards. Both partners, Felix Ng and Germaine Chong have been on the jury panel for the British D&AD Awards, Creative Circle Awards and Crowbar Awards.

Critical acclaim for the studio have been published in Monocle, Wallpaper, Fast Company, Coolhunting, It's Nice That, SHIFT Japan, Wall Street Journal, The Design Society Journal, The Business Times, The Straits Times and more.