Creative Lives Podcast — Facebook’s Teemu Suviala on VR, AR and having a multidisciplinary mindset

Posted 06 February 2020 Written by Laura Snoad
Interview by Marianne Hanoun

On the podcast this week, we catch up with Teemu Suviala about some of the innovative work he’s doing as the director of brand design at Facebook’s AR/VR team. Whether that’s AR effects, AR glasses or new virtual reality platforms. Listen in to hear Teemu talk about how agility and collaboration are essential skills for graduate creatives, explain the multidisciplinary mindset needed to work in VR and describe exactly what brand design in these spaces involves.

Teemu Suviala

Job Title

Director of Brand Design, AR/VR at Facebook

Based

San Francisco

Previous Employment

Executive Creative Director, Collins (2016–2017)
Creative Director, Wolff Olins (2014–2016)
Co-Founder and Creative Director, Kokoro & Moi (2008–2014)
Co-Founder and Creative Director, Syrup (2001–2008)

Education

MA Graphic Design, University of Art and Design, Helsinki (2004–2010)
BA Graphic Design, Lahti Institute of Design (1996–2001)

Social Media

Teemu by Yudi Ela

Despite being the director of brand design at Facebook’s AR/VR department, Teemu Suviala definitely wasn’t a virtual reality expert before he joined the social network. Fresh out of university, the Finnish designer moved to New York and launched graphic design studio Kokoro & Moi with some friends.

There and through roles at Wolff Olins and Collins he won briefs with huge brands like Google, MTV and Puma, but when it was time to take his next step, he knew he wanted to go some where where he could learn and collaborate with some of the sharpest minds in the business. In the podcast he explains that the ability to work with people whose expertise is very different to your own is one of the key skills for anyone hoping to get into tech.

Oculus from Facebook

Teemu’s role can involve everything from designing experiences and visual campaigns for Facebook’s Oculus platform to developing augmented reality glasses to launching Facebook Horizon, a VR space where you can meet people from across the globe and co-create together.

“The world of VR and AR is really expanding, from being a gimmick or only about gaming, to be more encompassing, more about productivity and social connections,” he explains.

In case you’re not entirely sure what that means, virtual reality is an immersive digital environment you usually access via a VR headset, while AR (or augmented reality) mixes the real world with digital layers – you’ll have probably tried it in the form of an AR effect on Instagram.

“The world of VR and AR is expanding from being a gimmick to more about productivity and social connections.”

Alongside his work at Facebook, Teemu runs a number of successful projects from a Scandi furniture company to a boutique footwear brand. He says, “Side projects help you to think differently about creativity and take a little time off from your day job and bring new ideas back.” It’s also great for learning how to operate in entirely new fields. “If you think about anything creative, especially if it needs to be boundary breaking, you need to collaborate,” he adds.

“It depends on where you are in your career path whether you should go for a bigger challenge or then doing something that you already know. There are moments when you have to get better in your skills before you start improvising, you have to build the muscles.”

Posted 06 February 2020 Written by Laura Snoad
Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Collection: Creative Lives Podcast
Disciplines: Digital, Design
Mentions: Teemu Suviala

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