SAP Design Talk: Pushing the Boundaries of Storytelling

One of the challenges of storytelling is to make the abstract more interesting, more personal, more real. There are many ways to make a story connect: some are traditional, whereas others are unorthodox.

The designers, hackers, engineers, film makers, architects, and business developers at ART+COM tell stories, but in a less traditional way. By transforming complex content that engages viewers emotionally, the teams might use lasers, virtual reality, pullies, mirrors, hydraulics, audio, electronics, code or whatever other technological means they need. At the forefront of the spectacular media installations and spaces, however, is the story they want to tell.

At the most recent SAP Design Talk in Walldorf, Germany, Jussi Ängeslevä spoke about how his studio weaves together the mechanical and digital with the beautiful and emotional. An affable and gregarious native of Finland, Jussi is the Vice Creative Director at ART+COM Studios in Berlin.

Sometimes video is worth hundreds of words, so have a look at the installation that ART+COM created for the BMW museum in Munich to get a better understanding of its work.

KINETIC SCULPTURE — THE SHAPES OF THINGS TO COME, 2008



ART+COM receives commissions from companies, museums, and governments but  also executes self-commissioned work with the aim to, as Jussi puts it, “communicate in an intuitive and poetic way” through their art.

Sometimes clients request a specific technology they saw in an existing installation, but Jussi insists that this is backwards. “The technology should never drive the project,” he says. Take virtual reality as an example. ART+COM created its first working VR prototypes in the early 90s.

Although Jussi does not see a significant evolution in VR, many clients still want to “do VR” without a clear purpose. Jussi insists that the best results always start with asking the right questions: first the why, what, where, and for whom. Only when those questions are answered can you start to think about the how, about which technology might best fit to answer those questions.

Impressions from ART+COM’s work (left-most photo) and Jussi Ängeslevä’s talk at SAP on July 17, 2018 in Walldorf, Germany

The expressive, physical experiences that ART+COM creates are the work of multidisciplinary teams – each part contributing its creativity and skillset in a unique way. Asked about creativity, Jussi says he find it odd that some people think that only designers are creative. “Everybody is creative! Developers are creative. Our program managers are super creative. Without their creative ways of navigating us through projects we would manage nothing.”

ART+COM’s creations are the result of experimentation, iterative prototyping, and lots of discussion– which in many ways mirrors software development. Sometimes the experiments fail, but the team keeps them anyway.

“Even if it didn’t work, it’s likely we’ll be able to use those learnings or the idea for another project later,” says Jussi. “Sometimes even years later when the technology matures.” His advice to designers and engineers at big companies like SAP is, “don’t specialize too much because you are then just responsible for a small slice of the whole thing. Get interested in what your colleagues are doing. Talk to each other!”

Hear more from Jussi Ängeslevä in this interview with the SAP Design Talks team:


SAP Design Talks regularly bring leaders from the international design scene to SAP. The sessions are held on a large stage for an internal audience of employees at various SAP locations around the globe.