Saar is probably one of the most legendary and most recognizable Israeli Creative Director’s in the advertisement and branding space From working at a nightclub to founding Israel’s top branding agency Open. Find out how life beautifully unfolded for Saar.
Meet Saar Friedman
Saar is probably one of the most legendary and most recognizable Israeli Creative Director’s in the advertisement and branding space that I know.
Saar Friedman: Co-founder and Chief Creative Director at Open – Total Brand Experiences
Saar is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director at OPEN – Total Brand Experiences – where he leads OPEN’s creative team in supervising all creative aspects, from concept and design to brand implementation.
Saar has worked with companies such as: CBC (The Central Bottling Company: Prigat and Tuborg Brewery), UP- the El-Al Airlines low-cost brand, Bezeq – a top Israeli telecommunications company, and Bank Hapoalim just to name a few.
We hope you enjoy this #designwithdot interview with Saar Friedman.
1. #IMPROVdesign. I WANNA KNOW ALL ABOUT IT!!! I read in an interview you wanted to be a football player and that you realize there are a lot of similarities between football and design! Can you explain what you mean?
I think that to understand this, I needed to think back to my childhood.. My dream as a child was to be a professional football player. So typically when you are 13 everything is seen through a childish point of view, but when you get closer to 18, real life appears! At this point of my life, there were only 1 or 2 players on that football adult team, and the rest… needed to find something else to do in the world. After a pretty tough time and some tears, I realized that I would not be a top football player. So then came in a friend from school who asked me if I wanted to organize parties in a night club, and I said: why not?!
This was the start my era of 7 years of parties. Yes, there was alcohol and DJs from all around the world too. The club was called Haoman 17 in Jerusalem and it was chosen by DJ Magazine as one of the top 5 best clubs in the world! When I was 22 we started to invited people with full color invitations, and it was after my first year of Graphic design, so I decided to ask one of the owners of the club if I could design the invitations? He said yes, and I started to design 5-8 different invitations every week. It was awesome. Because I also invited people in bars and coffee shops I was able to begin to network A LOT.
I started to designed logos and menus for every new hot spot in Jerusalem. By the end of my 3rd year, I felt exhausted from all the parties. I had so much work too from all the networking I had been doing. I told one of the owners of the club, Eyal that I wanted to quit and funny enough, he told me that he also wanted me to quit!
He said that maybe we could open a company together and I immediately told him, “why not,” and I found myself entering new field – Business & Design…
I think I worked 16-18 hours a day (before I was married, of course;-))
Today at Open, we work with leading brands from all over the world, and we have have a multi-disciplinary team.
2. How can one become an improv designer??
Now let’s jump to Improvisation. Improvisation is a creative mechanism based on the unknown, but, when I started to learn deeply about the history and the variations of improv, the most important thing that I understood was that you can use this tool only when you have complete control of your skills.
100 years ago, The famous artist Vasily Kandinsky, who is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art, said “Improvisation is an expression of our inner processes that appears suddenly, mostly unconsciously.”
It is the effect of “inner nature.”
In other words, improvisation opens gates we don’t even know are there, to let unknown creative forces flood in.
Kandinsky improvised throughout history and many other artists improvised. Miles Davis improvised, to give you another example. Jackson Pollock improvised a lot more.
Let’s look at Barcelona FC, one of the best teams ever in football.
Let’s go back to 2010 when all 11 players, including the goal keeper, had amazing control of the ball. That year they won all their games they had. When you saw them play you felt that you were seeing an artistic play. This lasted on the Barca for 3 or 4 years and today you see the same team but only 90% of the players retired.. and it feels different..
If we go back to design, first you need to feel 100% confident with the tools. Then you need to understand when to use them, and it is then that you can take yourself to the unknown with your design…
3. What’s your dream? Where do you want to see your life and the world in 10 years? Year 2030!?
I have a really short answer to this question because I don’t think like this.. I want to wake up every morning feeling passionate for what I do and what I’m doing. I want to continue to grow and help my family, myself, my clients and my employees grow as well. I don’t know where or how we all will grow. It’s like a flower, you don’t know if it will grow to the left or right….I’m only looking to do things each year that I haven’t done before. I’ll give you an example – the conversation with you right now – I never have done something like this in English..
I want to do 1-2 projects every year that will impact people all over the world.
You have to act and come to the meeting table as if you know nothing… just LISTEN.
4. You’ve worked with so many amazing brands and projects. What type of projects are your favorite and why?
After 20 years of working with brands I now understand something really simple but really important… you are working with people, not brands.
You have to have a good relationship – have a 100% open heart…. be able to listen with modesty…. you have to act, come to the meeting table as if you know nothing… just LISTEN. Through this you can learn from the person and then you can reflect, translate their personality, their promise, to the world.
When did I learn this? Did it start in the club? Well, yes, good question. I learned that every small detail, every point, has a role in the experience.
5. What are your thoughts on social media? Hate it? Can’t live without it?
It’s a rabbit hole. It can be used for your benefit, or you can use it against yourself. It’s a tool. If you don’t understand the tool, you can start to believe that this is life.
But it is not life.
I do marathons. I get a wide perspective from them, life is a marathon. I know about running up the hills and down the inclines, into the valleys… if you know how to breathe… – from marathons I learned to breathe and enjoy the road, the long road.
6. What is your philosophy about life? Or a mantra, quote or proverb you want to share with us?
I do marathons. I get a wide perspective from them, life is a marathon. I know about running up the hills and down the inclines, into the valleys… it’s all about “if you know how to breathe…” From marathons I learned to breathe and enjoy the road, the long road.
I also have 4 children- first 2 boys, my 10 and 6 year olds, and then my wife and I wanted one more and we got the 2 for 1 deal! 😉 Our 2 little twin girls are amazing! They are 2 years old now…so I also learned from my children the same principles – breathe and enjoy the road. 😉
I also want to add that commitment is a big one -you have to have commitment – and patience!
Additionally, I learned that in order to do big things you need a team.
In summary, my philosophy is about passion, to do things I love to do. If I had to put it in a mantra it would be:
Before you have a philosophy, you have to have a passion – that’s my philosophy !!
7. What’s your dream travel destination or the next place you want to visit? #TravelWithDot
I have just one simple answer to this: JAPAN & TOKYO. Definitely my biggest mistake that I haven’t been there yet.
8. What’s your favorite food experience you would take me to in Tel Aviv, and what would we eat? #EatWithDot
There is so many good restaurants and cool places in Tel-Aviv, but I think I would take you to a place that always works for me – breakfast and champagne at the Manta Ray which located 10 meters from the sea. It has one of the most perfect combinations of food and atmosphere.
9. Who has been a mentor or someone you have looked up to for advice and inspiration?
One of the most inspiring people that I ever met is a man who is 60 + years old and he has been fighting Parkinson’s for a few years now. He learned photography at university, invented caching in Israel 20 years ago, is the secret advisor of a lot of CEO’s in Israel, and every time I have dilemmas in whichever business or professional subject, I always finish my discussions with him with fresh and clear view about the future. After those talks I always know what to do.
10. Dragon or Unicorn? Why?
So a dragon symbolizes fire and killing for me… and a unicorn is pretty. Maybe you tell me what I am. You are the mother of Dragons after all.
The Fast 5
1) Your favorite Instagram feed right now:
I believe that you can take inspiration from everyone and this is how I decide what my feed will look like.
2. Favorite quote (or mantra / lesson learned in business) you ever received:
Everything that happens is for good outcome. “But You Did That in Thirty Seconds? No, It Has Taken Me Forty Years To Do That.” -Picasso
3) Best website/destination you go to for inspiration:
Pentagram, Didlee, Wolf Ollins.
4) The App you can’t live without?
5) Book we should all read?
The Fountainhead– Ayn Rand