We love the opportunity to get to know our DA friends better, so we’re happy to get the chance to speak with David Bourke, iceberg’s Creative Director (who is also presenting at Under the Hood this Wednesday the 24th of February.) We spoke to David about his career path (highlighting a thread of music), the Iceberg culture, the importance of writing in design, how the studio celebrates their wins, adaptability and agility in the face of challenges, and growth, including opportunities to work with David as iceberg looks to expand their team.
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What led you toward design?
I’ve always had an interest in design, but I also studied law at university and qualified as a lawyer so I could have gone another way entirely. The turning point was a talk I went to by then Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts. He was a very captivating speaker and very persuasive. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to be stuck doing law when I could be doing stuff like that”. A few months later I went and did an internship in New York and that was it from there.
Can you describe the path that lead to you becoming CD at iceberg?
I started as a digital designer straight out of uni and worked for a few years at a small studio in Wellington. Then I took off to London where I ended up staying for about 10 years. Around 2005, the advertising agencies were discovering the internet so anyone who knew how to make websites was lured into advertising. So I worked for a few of the big digital agency networks like Syzygy, Digitas and SapientNitro as a designer and Art Director. When I returned to NZ I freelanced at a few advertising agencies before landing here as CD.
What kind of workplace culture have you fostered at iceberg?
No egos and good music. We are not precious about how good work gets made, as long as it gets made.
What philosophies or methodologies are critical to your design approach?
Words matter. Spending time in traditional advertising agencies and working with amazing copywriters opens your eyes to the importance of great writing. There are lots of designers who aren’t as interested in the words they are the visuals and that’s a shame. We try to make sure we write well whether it’s a presentation or a piece of work.
Can you give an example of where your work has delivered an unexpected return on investment for your client?
It is never unexpected!
What project (personal or professional) are you most proud of? Why?
I’ll give you two
The work iceberg has done for Cornwall Park over the years has been very rewarding. Having the opportunity to work on every little aspect of the park experience has been lots of fun
On a more random note, I used to have a website where people would submit the name of their band with a description, and I would make them a band logo. It would take me 10 minutes, and most were pretty bad, but I kept it up for a surprisingly long time. I’m proud of that! It would make a good Instagram account these days. Feel free to steal the idea.
You recently won a transform award for your identity work. What does this peer recognition mean for you (both as a studio and personally)?
It’s a cliché but we don’t do it for the awards. Because I oversee a lot of the work, it’s the others who deserve most of the credit and I personally take a lot of pleasure in seeing our team win things. It also helps a bit with agency profile and some clients appreciate it too.
How do you celebrate your wins?
Food. A lot of that comes from our MD Martin who could talk about food all day if you gave him the chance. Dinner and drinks are the best way for the team to celebrate.
Is there a project you have undertaken at iceberg in the last 12 months that is memorable because it challenged you? If so what did you learn from it?
Rebranding Chapman Tripp last year was a challenge because we needed to convince 60 Partners that what we were doing was right. I remember spending a lot of time preparing for meetings to sell the work. In the end, it all went far more smoothly than we expected. The lesson was: don’t worry so much. If you put in the work, it will all be fine. And remember, it’s not heart surgery.
Has the pandemic changed anything for you? How have you adapted? Will you be doing anything differently?
Not a great deal. But we are now fully lockdown ready of course. Though we will always prefer to all be in a studio together, we adopted a few new practices that work well for distributed teams which we continue today – more agile processes and tools (Kanban, Miro etc)
What are your goals for the future?
And we want to grow iceberg. We are looking at a few new offerings at the moment which will set us up to do that. This means we need people to join us! Check our website for openings.
Finally, where can we see more of your work and connect with you?
I have personally taken a hiatus from most social so the best place to follow is iceberg’s accounts @weareiceberg.