Hi folks, a much shortened news update this week. Thank you so much to the people that read all of last weeks edition down to the bottom. As the title probably suggests these are incredibly busy times at the Loft. After a ‘quiet-ish’ start to the year, things are well and truly moving with a number of new clients on-board as well as the ever-enduring quest for better, more creative solutions that give our design work that edge. Which leads me nicely to…
Design with soul….
A lot of people have been asking me recently, “what exactly does it mean?” It is quite a big and far-reaching statement but it is an absolute statement of intent for the work we do. Soul can be perceived in many different ways. Depending on the person, it can mean passion, emotion, dedication to the cause, indeed ‘heart and soul’ is a very familiar phrase – but this can be misleading – some of the most soulful pieces of design in the past have been done in a calculated way. Yet they still appear soulful, it is a word I love and now replaces ‘X-Factor’ as the term of choice for designers. Before Simon Cowell crucified the term with music that has anything but. ‘X-factor’ was widely used by the design community to describe design that left you speechless, the wow factor. Seymour and Powell were the first two designers I can remember using the phrase, on the tv about 15 years ago with their series ‘better by design.’ The crucial part of the ‘design with soul’ moniker is the word ‘design.’ Design isnt art, it can be done artfully but it is not self-fulfilling unlike music or actual art. There are hundreds of ways to describe the term ‘design,’ but ultimately it is a marriage of style and functionality. And this is why certain objects are designed with soul. After leaving NS Design’s studio a couple of weeks ago, I happened to come across a beautiful Ducati Monster. Now I am not a biker, but boy does this bike look the part. And I am told it performs accordingly, this is true design with soul. The passion in the people making this bike is apparent from the way it looks and performs- but if this bike was useless- somehow it just wouldnt have the same appeal. I think it is one of the reasons that the new Ferrari 458 SuperItalia is such an impressive design, because it is one of the finest cars, never mind Ferrari’s, ever built and that just adds to its appeal.
There are hundreds of examples of great machines that look soulful, but how many websites do we see that make this kind of connection? Seldom few. At the Loft we work on all forms of 2D digital and printed design, but the majority of our work is digital. And with there still being a vast majority of beautifully conceived and beautifully executed print work still being produced, it is the digital arena which is in the greatest need of better design. If we can have great graphic work, and there is a serious amount of impressive graphic design still going on, then why can we not produce digitial content that has the same effect. Work that does impress the audience with its intelligence, charm or even humour. For a brief period, it looked like Flash was the great savour for designers, allowing them complete ‘carte blanche’ to design beautiful websites- however in today’s climate, Flash does seem to be limited with Apple refusing to use it in their phones/tablets as well as the ‘Search Engine’ question. All websites should be built today on CMS systems. However, that does not mean that we should tolerate the mediocre, it is up to great developers and designers to unite to marry their skills in creating fantastically performing sites that also takes their audiences breaths away. This is our mission here at the Loft, to marry excellent functionality with beauty that will inspire. Its not easy and many sacrifices are made, but the final results definintely make it worthwhile. Creating, I sincerely hope, design with Soul.
As many of you are aware, I have only recently moved to Glasgow and it has been brilliant to finally get out there and start networking. I really love networking, its a difficult balancing act between getting the head down to do good work and getting out there to sell your business. But ultimately it is something most people in business will have to do at some point, it isnt really work and you get the chance to learn an awful lot about what people do. Furthermore, I heard somebody say this week that ‘Glasgow is a village,’ it is kind of true, but what a fantastic community. There is a great buzz between the people with their own businesses, a really postive energy. In addition to everything else, it has also been really nice to meet some new friends.
One such person is Brian Tait. Brian runs an online marketing company in Hillington called Aillum Marketing. Now there are a lot of ‘fly by night’ online marketeers around at the moment, promising you all sorts of things that they can achieve on Google. Brian is no such person, for a start – Brian has been working in online marketing almost since the internet was first conceived. Brian’s speciality is ‘analytics,’ and he is truly awesome with it. Speaking to Brian, I occassionally get the feeling that he has forgotten more than most online marketeers have ever known about their chosen subject. He doesn’t make silly promises and best of all can display hard data to back up what he does. One of the things I like most about Brian is he knows what he can do, and what he cant. Stating that he is absolutely not a designer. So it was really nice to be asked by Brian to design a logo and redesign the home page to his pet-project ‘Renfrewshire Pubs.’ A new site aimed at getting more people into the pubs of Renfrewshire, it already has the backing of the local council and in a short space of time- a fair number of followers on facebook as well as the backing of most of the local establishements. Check out the logo we designed for Brian, in addition to the revised site design coming later next month.
To find out more about Renfrewshire Pubs, check them out on facebook or at the website
And to find out more about Brian Tait and Aillum Online Marketing, check out
Continuing the drink theme. Another new client to the Loft is Pieter Rosenthal who succesfully runs his very own wine consultancy ‘Cork and Bottle,’ which does a number of things including – wine education and consultancy. He also represents ‘Thierrys’ wine import and distribution as a social media consultant and finally runs ‘wine unearthed,’ wine tasting workshops throughout the UK. Needless to say, that when it comes to wine, there are seldom few who know more. What makes Pieter, who originates from the Netherlands, especially interesing is his desire to marry the tradtional of wine with the modernity of ‘social media.’ He has a number of exciting plans in the forthcoming months. And its a great pleasure that the Loft will be working closer with Pieter on behalf of his client ‘Thierrys.’ We also hope to invite Pieter in for the Loft Experience in the next couple of weeks, to find ways that can strengthen his brand. Check Pieter out below…
If you are interested in a great day out…
Or check out ‘Thierry’s’ themeselves…
As I said last week, the ‘business banter’ has proved to be one of the more enjoyable networking events around Glasgow. So it was great to have the first ‘digital banterer’ session with Lynne Foster of Polr Web, Brian Tait of Ailllum Marketing, Martin Jack of Think Different and our first self proclaimed ‘guinea-pig’ Gary MacMillan of MacMillan & Company. Along with Colin of 5thColumn, we will be providing an incredibly thorough audit of their company website, covering all aspects including branding/graphics, usability, online marketing and SEO analytics. We are going to pilot this scheme over the next couple of months, so if you know of any companies that may require such a service, please dont hesitate to let us know.
And finally with the London Marathon this week…I thought I would wish the best of luck to Gayle Mann of the Go-Group. Now Gayle is probably one of the most competitive people I know, having done a couple of Gym classes with her at the beginning of the year – I dont believe I have ever met a fitter lady, 10-mile runs at the weekend are fit in around weekly body pump/spin classes with ease and Gayle’s not the type to go half heartedly. This lady red-lines it every time. Funnily enough, to boost her donations, Gayle proclaimed on Facebook that she would run the ‘Belfast’ marathon two weeks later if she could hit £1000, cue mass amounts of donations and Gayle has now raised over £1500 for her charity ‘Funding Neuro.’ So two marathons await for Gayle, I expect a time that begins with 3h at the start of it.
You can check out her progress on her personal blog.
Good luck Gayle.
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
Finally, this time next week I will be Como bound for an extended weekend away, so an even shorter news post next week but until then, let me leave you with a fantastic speech by a very inspirational man. I was informed of the video from Sarah of PSYBT, it is Steve Jobs of Apple on receving his honorary doctorship from Stamford Uni. The message, ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’ I think that’s a great message to leave you with this week.
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