DaVanzo of Sparks mines cultural insights for UI design

NEW YORK– Sarah DaVanzo, Chief Cultural Officer at Sparks & Honey, an Omnicom agency, has many UI cards up her sleeve when it comes to cultural strategy. DaVanzo is known for researching, designing and piloting methodologies to mine cultural insights for brands and advertising agencies, thanks to a career in global marketing all across the world.


At the NYC Card UI meetup last February 1, she literally showed how UI cards has helped her take her audience to mega shifts and micro trends of cultures in easy, digestible chunks. Scrolling through her card designs to reveal insights about her work with Sparks, she revealed a unique approach to scoring and predicting trends.

She showed how cards are everywhere to inspire us to use it for presenting our ideas. From her mobile phone beamed to an audience, she went over one card trend over another — these days, the unusual popping of Tarot cards, in Pravda fashion, card fights, carded music, calling cards like Tinder, memory cards to remember passwords,cards as snackable educational content and cardistry athletic forms.

No one would argue about the need for “content to be parsed,” because we’re overloaded with content. DaVanzo said card-like designs allow for unpacking and modularization which makes it easy to share “structured serendipity” or discoveries out there. Now there’s snackable media/content, and layered and parallel storytelling.

In TV shows, she shows us how Orange is the New Black taps simplexity (simple and complexity) to make a drama series work. She elaborates how the 80s detective TV series, Columbo, cues us in or glues us to the story with his visual antics that may be considered showy or hammy acting by most if it wasn’t Peter Falk doing it.

DaVanzo uses Columbo to show us how you can apply the following to allow you how to go about imbibing Card UI in your system:

  • The prepared mind forms hypotheses
  • The prepared mind repeats the same process
  • The prepared mind has habits and
  • The prepared mind looks beyond the obvious

So how do agencies approach her “cultural foresight”? She laid her cards on the table.

“Clients tell us this is the challenge. We set up our system to listen to signals. Then we help them plan based on a specific trend,” she said.


Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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