Getting Creative in Special Places with FORWARD Festival Vienna

At this year’s FORWARD Festival in Vienna (7.-9.April) the creative industries will get together to hang out, to inspire and talk to one another, share their ideas and to connect. We had a chat with founders Othmar Handl and Lukas Kauer about their concept and innovative ideas for the festival in its third year.

Othmar and Lukas, you have a very promising concept this year. How do you wish for it to work out?

Othmar: If, for example, a company requires a new graphic designer, it should think, „Oh, we will go to the Forward Festival. We will surely find someone there“. Or they come to find inspiration, to find out more about which product design would be cool for a corporate identity. But graphic design alone is not enough and therefore we find it exciting to invite people from all genres. In this manner you obtain the unique possibility for an ultimate update on the creative industries once a year. Provided by creative people from all sectors of the industry, who play leading roles in their genres and are setting trends. Through experiencing these people and hearing them talk, you can learn a lot about yourself, win new impressions and insights and maybe come up with new ideas to invent a whole new thing. In the best case there is an advertising agency sitting next to you, a photographer in front of you and you create new contacts and thus new projects arise. People can just network.

What can you tell us about this year’s festival schedule?


(click for full picture)

Othmar: Building on our concept, we have taken several steps to go even more into detail. The conference lasts three days, with 16 international speakers. There are two after events to the conference, which serve as an opportunity to have a little fun, dance and get to know people. We had this very special idea for a party and have managed to engage Stefan Sagmeister [watch his TED Talks here] and Mirko Borsche for it. Since we will have several hundred people at this party with different tastes in music, we can hardly meet everybody’s expectations. So we thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to know their (Stefan Sagmeisters and Mirko Borsches) taste in music, but – and here is the thing – only based on the covers of the records they find most appealing? That means, not music per se will be the focus, but the record covers both of them find cool.

Other than that, what can people, especially young creatives, who are maybe visiting FORWARD for the first time, expect?

Othmar: We are really proud of our speed-dating activity for creatives this year, which will take place at the AIL lab at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. The idea is basically to connect people who just graduated or are looking for a new job with companies (brand managements, media publishers etc.) who are currently offering positions. It will be a shuffle for talents, a place to conduct hardcore networking.

Lukas: On Saturday, which is the last day, we will offer workshops that are, unlike last year, included in the festival ticket. We provide workshops on for example tax advice, social media and so on. For instance: the impact of Facebook on creative industries now and then, how Facebook changes the rules of advertising and how you can use these tools to promote yourself.


Office dog, Sam

Gartenbaukino will be your new location this year. Was that a dream come true?

Lukas: Definitely. This year the festival is taking place for the third time and we wanted to really get it right this time, do the best we could do. So now we are where we dreamed of being, at Gartenbaukino.

Othmar: There are quite a few conferences in Vienna. It is the second largest conference city in the world, after Paris. But we are not a conference where you turn up in a suit and go home with a plastic bag full of promotional material. We are the creative industries and therefore we want to do something creative in special places.

Lukas: That’s why Gartenbaukino is the perfect fit for us. It has it’s own standing in Vienna. There is no better location.

Some time ago we had an interview with Nychos. He thinks that Vienna is a city for old people and hasn’t got much to offer for the younger generation. What do you think about that?

Othmar: That is, what we are trying to change. Today is all about being faster, being in a digital world. If Facebook can change the world, the way we connect, why can’t we tear down old structures in Vienna?

Where does your creativity come from?

Lukas: Othmar likes to say: creativity is the sum of all of our collected impressions. We had, for example, several offices before we moved here and now we are finally in a spot, where we can draw inspiration from and combine different things. We get inspired by a lot of things, it may be an exhibition that we went on, a road trip to Munich or just having a beer at a bar. When we are liberated from all this stress right now, that’s when there is more potential for inspiration and ideas.

Lukas, Othmar

Othmar and Lukas hope to establish FORWARD as a creative platform in Vienna, where creativity meets economy in a groundbreaking way.

We wish you good luck with this year’s festival and hope to see you grow bigger, better and even more exciting in the coming years! Thank you for your time. 🙂

All Images by Matthias Nemmert. 

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About Ece Isil Sahin

Ece has fallen for the arts since she was 5 years old. Growing up between backstage areas and theatre cafés, she is now majoring in Theatre-, Film- and Mediastudies at the Universitiy of Vienna.

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