ITS 2015 - Travelling Research

Certain things in the way ITS selects the finalists make it stand out from the rest of the competitions around and highlight the in-depth research that occurs and the out of the ordinary way in which this is carried out.

Travelling around the world to discover young talents “on the road” has been a priority for us since the very beginning back in 2002. Japan, India, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, France, United States, Israel, South America, Cuba, the UK…the number of schools we’ve been to is pretty impressive. And we believe it is an essential part of our research, of our way to spot out talents. Because we know that portfolios don’t always tell the whole picture…sometimes bits and pieces are missing because designers take them from granted. By meeting them personally to talk about their work, we are sometimes able to add the missing information the jury does not find when going through their portfolios during the finalists selection.

The beginning of March usually is a good moment for us to travel and we get in contact with several schools from our network to structure interview schedules with their students. Interviews can be amazing experiences. You’re sitting there in your chair and you have a list of names in front of you with a timetable of when each one of them will come in…and you never know which of those names will surprise you and take you to places you hadn’t expected, to creativity you had never seen, even if you’ve seen so much of it. And it never tires you.

Together with portfolio viewing in our offices, the “scouting tour” as we call it is by far the most exciting moment of the year. Because among those you are meeting hides the future ITS Generation. You can guess who it could be when you meet a very strong project that totally stands out of the pack, but you can never be sure until jurors arrive in our office in the end of April to actually select the finalists. And by the way will the promising talent you met send a portfolio that’s complete enough to convince the jurors? That’s why we try to take good care in explaining very carefully to each student how they should assemble their portfolio, what mindset they should have while preparing it and how important it is to be totally objective about one’s work.

We’re so obsessed with discovering projects of new talents that sometimes we do not even realise what is happening around us…This year for instance the fire alarm went off at one of the schools we were doing interviews in. We all had to get out of the building of course, hundreds and hundreds of people…we didn’t waste time and just continued doing interviews sitting outside while the firemen checked the building. And we’re not capable of saying no: at another school this year we had finished one of our (long) interview days and were literally stepping into the elevator to leave when a last student popped in front of the elevator door apologising for being late and asking if she could quickly show us her work. First time ever: portfolio viewing standing in the elevator door.

Our days during the Scouting Tour speed by very fast following a dense schedule that squeezes in as many appointments as possible, and not just with students to see their work. It’s also a very good moment to catch up with past finalists depending on the town we’re in (by know there’s at least an ITS FAMILY member on each continent), and we had the pleasure of spending some time with finalists who throughout these years have turned into dear friends of ours, to catch up about their private & professional life.
We’re now back in the office and who knows which of the students we met will convince the jurors in the end of April during the finalists selections…We have a few names in mind already but the decision is not only ours…so we will all have to wait and see.