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Experiences that made me James Worsham

03 February 2023

In this series, we ask Imagination talent all about the experiences that have made them who they are. This month we spoke to James Worsham, Creative Director at Imagination Shanghai.

A bit about me…

A deadpan sarcastic. The stylin’, profilin’, craft beer drinkin’, consciousness expandin’, moustachio wearin’, Nietzsche readin’, bourbon sippin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun.

Besides doing Ric Flair parodies I love to cook.

About, me

Most influential creative experience…

So I have two that immediately come to mind.

Prior to moving from Detroit to Shanghai, I spent a few weeks in the Netherlands. I found myself in Amsterdam at Moco, where they featured a collection from Studio DRIFT. It could have been the novelty, the current state of mind, the excitement of preparing to relocate to a new city, or a combination, but the curation spoke to me.

One piece, titled Fragile Future, left me entranced. The craft and care involved inspired me to drive for perfection. The process and detailing at the granular level provided the beauty of the macro. The dichotomy of nature and technology, intertwined so beautifully, created an air of mysticism. An eerie glimpse into a beautifully harrowing yet inspiring future.

The second one is the documentary Fed Up (TL;DR the obesity epidemic in America and “Big Sugar”). This drove me away from nearly all processed consumables, kick-starting my culinary journey into near insanity whilst I attempted to make almost everything from scratch.

Fast forward 8 years, and outside of work, I love to cook, create recipes, and share the results with whoever is hungry and eager. I see cooking and dining as a symbiotic relationship akin to what we do professionally. The culinary world is a true mixture of art and design. Mixing ingredients expectedly and audaciously, planning and plating with purpose, all aiming to evoke a memory or an emotional response. Food is a powerful vehicle of transcendence.

I take this hobby and try to relate it back to experiential design. Juxtaposing elements, leveraging familiar aspects to create a sense of comfort, and pushing boundaries with content/concepts to create that immediate and lasting emotional response. Or, for some, a few beautiful shots for the ‘gram.

Fragile, Future, Studio, Drift
Fragile, Future, Studio, Drift

My proudest piece of work…

I think it’s a two-way tie between Vivo Lab and the LEGO Xmas pop-up. For Vivo, I loved the variety of interactive installations. Nine vastly different experiences demanded multiple interaction paradigms, all contributing to the greater takeaway and consumer understanding.

With LEGO, it was almost a breath of fresh air. The audience, brief, and segment were all something I typically hadn’t worked on in the past. It was a nice experiential challenge to create ‘phygital’ activations that leveraged actual LEGO bricks with a holiday spin to it.

LEGO, Christmas, Pop-up
Vivo, experiences, interactive, instillation

The piece of work that makes me cringe…

When I was in college, I worked at a print-house / “marketing” agency that handled a lot of softgoods, swag, and some commercial runs. I’ll leave the rest to the imagination, and needless to say, all of that work is buried in the backyard. However, I did learn a ton about different printing processes, materials, techniques, and file hygiene.

The experience I wish I’d created is…

Anything and everything LUST and LUSTlabs (RIP) has done, and by extension, RNDR. The work they did initially inspired me to pursue experiential design. Their ability to visualize data in immersive and interactive ways produced powerful statements. They really pushed the boundaries of ‘new media’ at the time, even up to 2017, when they shut their doors for good. I am sure most of us have seen their work on Pinterest or used it on a mood board or two.

Open, Highway, RNDR
Type, Dynamics, LUST, Lab

Advice to 18 year old self…

01. Enjoy the journey, not the destination

02. ‘Don’t be worried about that sh*t. Life goes on” — The Dude

03. You should’ve learned C4D in college

What’s next…

We have a lot of fun work on the horizon. Defining the guest experience across a new whisky distillery in Yunnan and creating a brand home for a development company in Beijing.

🥂 here’s to 2023