Board of Trustees
Strelka & Hyper Island
David Erixon is Programming Director at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, and Founder of Hyper Island.
David joined our Board of Trustees in 2013, and kindly agreed to answer the following questions for us.
Where did you study?
I formally studied mass media and journalism in Sweden and later on information systems in the UK. I never managed to get a degree. I was a terrible student which is ironic considering my huge interest in education.
But it make sense that it requires a disruptive student to suggest a different way of doing it.
Setting up Hyper Island was my own private version of a PhD. I view learning as an everyday activity, something intrinsically linked with life itself: I learn therefore I am.
Please briefly summarise your career
I set up Hyper Island when I was 22 and founded Doberman (www.doberman.se), a digital design agency, in the end of the 90s.
I spent 10 years at Vodafone, a large chunk as Global Brand Director. I was VP of Products and Customer Experience at Yota and became involved in Strelka Institute… I can go on but I'll stop there.
These days I'm the kind of guy that follows my heart rather than a career roadmap. The ingredients of the stuff I get involved in contains people, education, facilitation, emerging markets, business transformation, sustainability and digital. I love my job and I want to work with people that love theirs. I'm in the energy business I guess.
What makes a great idea?
The ability to take huge (calculated) risks, trust your gut, dive into the unknown -- and most importantly -- to follow through. I can't stress enough the value of tenacity. You also have to be extremely "lucky" when you think, which I suppose is just another way of saying intelligent and original.
Indicate your key areas of interest in the creative industries and how you want to support D&AD’s aims and ambitions.
Creative education, all the way. I'm involved in both Hyper Island and Strelka Institute and I will bring all of my experience to shape the agenda of creative education at D&AD.
But I'm also a pretty seasoned board member and will help in any way I can. I been through hugely successful IPOs, global PR crises, market transformations and bankruptcy. All of these taught me what kind of people needed on a board in good times and bad times. My ambition is to be one of those: Cool, professional, generous and loyal.
What does D&AD mean to you?
The endless pursuit of excellence - and the celebration of it. The joy in and of perfection. Now that I've met some of the people behind the scenes at D&AD I would also say unpretentious, which is a very pleasant surprise (and a recipe for success in my book).
Which piece of creative work do you wish you’d done and why?
I really enjoy other people's creations and I never wish theirs were mine. I wish however I had the chance to try architecture. I find space and the physicality of managing energy fascinating. I would love to design a school.
Ha! I just remember reading "Just Kids" by Patti Smith and thinking I wish I'd been one of their friends. Does it count? The ultimate creative work is life itself.
Who has inspired you most during your career?
Professor Sandra Vandermerwe (the mother and queen of customer focus), Grahame Maher (legendary Vodafone CEO) and Harry Schein (a truly unconventional leader and intellectual). All of them hold the flag of integrity, courage and vision. All of them are incredibly generous with their time and their presence.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
I don't really have a "career", but for me it was challenging to leave the comfort zone of the corporate world. I was increasingly corrupted by the power given to me (and sometime taken by me) and I noticed how I got less courageous the further up the food chain I got.
Suddenly all my integrity was gone and I had become someone that just worked to maintain money and power. It was an awful realisation. To break up with my ego and let my heart lead the way was the most challenging but also the most important journey of my working life.
However, I wouldn't blame 'the corporation' for my own shortcomings and I would consider 'the corporation' again. I'd doubt they'd consider me though. I don't fit a lot of the conventional moulds.
Recommend a book, a film and an artist that you think every creative should experience
Book: The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (all serious exploration of creativity leads to expanding consciousness)
Film: Hearts of Darkness – A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Eleanor Coppola et al (if you didn't understand my point on tenacity, this documentary will do the job)
Artist: James Turrell (mind blowing vision of pantheistic beauty)