A word with: Rachel Lewandowska about Avantgarde London’s “rebellious streak”

On March 14th, when Rachel Lewandowska was announced as the new Head of Avantgarde London she stated:

“The phenomenal brand experiences we’re creating and delivering globally demonstrate how the industry has bounced back with force. In London, we are hugely influenced by the cultural and creative richness we’re surrounded by. I suppose it gives us a slightly rebellious streak. I’m delighted to be a part of this and head up our London office.”

The bit I have highlighted in bold struck me as worth unpacking. A slightly rebellious streak sounds, well, slightly subversive, slightly different. And there’s definitely a market for slightly different. So I put the question back to Rachel:

Why does Avantgarde London have a rebellious streak and how does that benefit the agency, group and brands?

When we explore experiences for our clients, we are looking at solutions that blend a reductive design approach (nothing over-engineered and over-complicated), with a provocative and emotive expression of the brand. That provocation is the rebellious streak we naturally embrace, which comes from being immersed in the culture of London, the unique and disruptive global city. This rebellious attitude might be expressed through innovation, sensory experience, words and imagery, engagements, or theatre. Or it may be as simple as the way we distil a brief, interrogating it to unlock every potential for a rich experience. Ultimately our aim is to trigger an emotive reaction to a brand.

Coming out of the upheaval of Brexit, one of the biggest and earliest expressions of the UK’s new global presence was at the world Expo in Dubai. There, in collaboration with designer, Es Devlin, we created the UK Pavilion. The usual approach for country pavilions is to present their story to the audience, but our approach was centred around inclusivity, inviting every visitor to contribute a sentiment to a growing collective story, in the form of a poem. The result, a singular, bold, and striking collaboration with a global audience was created.

More recently, we’ve partnered with one of our automotive clients, Jaguar Land Rover, to reimagine the traditional auto show exhibition stand, globally and specifically across the Chinese market. Their new modern luxury positioning enabled a reductive design approach. By reinventing the whole visitor experience into something akin to the modern luxury fashion world rather than a forecourt of cars, we frame the brand very differently to their competitors.

Our reductive, yet rebellious approach has led us to look at retail spaces through a gamification lens; Exhibition stands as vibrant streetscapes; Launch parties as social movements; Conferences as immersive art galleries. This approach empowers us to take inspiration and cues from our surroundings. Ultimately combining rebellious, emotive storytelling and powerful singular design to create impactful experiences.


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