It has been a much shorter week here at the Loft. Last week I brought you the Loft’s weekly news update from the beautiful Lake Como. Well the final day of our trip was spent in Milan. You can read about my day trip to Milan trip in my personal blog. https://www.theloft.co/comment/milano-taking-style-one-step-further/ But, you can also read about the rest of the Loft’s weekly news below, including how we plan to embrace ‘the violence of the new’ and also some information about some very talented people.
The Violence of the New!!
It is quite funny but as a designer, we are constantly questioning the purpose of something. If you observe history and do it cleverly, you will find that every object and industry can be traced back to the evolution of human beings needs and desires. This is as true 100’s of years ago as it is today. However, these needs, desires and resultant behaviours are forever evolving. The companies that survive and thrive are the ones that embrace this change. They are the ones that give their customers greater functionality, performance, convenience, style at every passing turn.
The Horse and Cart was a great way to get around your city, until the automobile arrived, it wouldn’t matter how efficient the carts could be built or how strong the horses could become. The paradigm had shifted, that particular sector had re-invented itself. Horse and carts evolved from being the object for the masses to the object for ‘the special occasion.’ This always happens when romance overcomes reason. The same can be said for almost anything. Take things like LP’s, typewriters or even classic cars themselves.
Almost everything evolves and the products/services that offer the best balance of style/performance/functionality for its intended audience will always remain those most in demand. If a company wants to remain relevant, its designers have a duty to be constantly looking for solutions to the problems of tomorrow.
With this in mind, it has got me thinking more and more about the Loft’s main genre ‘webdesign.’ The web is fragmenting at a tremendous rate, a traditional website may no longer be enough. People are making their first interaction with companies on a greater variety of platforms. Devices from Smartphone’s to tablets computers. Supposedly 76% of people view websites from non-desktop devices. The one size fits all approach will soon not be enough. Furthermore, the channels to the site are also diversifying. People are unlikely to just check out a site anymore. E-mail newsletters, SEO, online campaigns and social media all have their parts to play and may be joined by further innovations.
As a company that is determined to shape the future and not be held hostage to it. In the next couple of months, you will find the Loft beginning to offer a much more comprehensive and forward looking range of services that take into account this fragmentation. Solutions that work for the next generation of web users. We will embrace ‘the violence of the new.’ Not by crying over potential losses in websites but by preparing to offer solutions in more relevant areas. Whatever the platform or channel, we promise that the solutions we provide will be designed with soul.
Last week I met some remarkable people who I wanted to discuss in greater detail this week.
FWDiane & Freelance World
Last Wednesday, I finally met with a very impressive lady. Diane Holden (third from the left) of Freelance World. Definitely, not your regular accountant. I had been meaning to meet with Diane for quite a while as I was very much impressed with her energy and liked what her company, Freelance World, had done with their brand. I first met her at a Thrive networking event and the first thing that struck me was that there was a twitter username on the business card. This game me my first indication about Diane’s unique approach to accountancy.
I had also been made aware that Diane ‘isn’t just an accountant’ through one of my clients, her knowledge of business and finance is so much more encompassing. This qualifies her as a lady with vision which automatically means I am interested. And Diane didn’t disappoint in that respect, although we didn’t really go into much detail in her chosen subject I was massively impressed with what Diane and her associates had done with Freelance world. All staff use social media well, have twitter addresses on their business cards, regularly post videos on vimeo, they have ‘the jelly wall,’ and what looked on-screen like a great work environment in their main Aberdeen office. Furthermore, it is a company that fully understands the strength of the collective.
Diane is equally as engaging – we had a great chat about anything and everything from cars and watches to houses and clothes. A 2-hour chat that flew in a second, I look forward to getting to know Diane and the freelance crew more in the future.
You can see more from Freelance world on youtube…
Or to find out more about Diane, the best place to find her is probably on twitter…
twitter username: @fwdiane
Jim Henderson of Shirlaws, ‘loves business’
One of the first people I met at the Banter when I began was Jim Henderson, a business coach for Shirlaws. For some reason I was having an off-morning and when asked what I do, I nervously told Jim that ‘the Loft was just like any other design agency. ‘Words that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jim wasn’t one to let it go and subsequently collared me about it and rightly so. That was a few months ago and since then I have got to know Jim well through chatting and also through following his twitter/blog posts. I must say I am massively impressed with Jim and can honestly say that after every meeting/chat, I leave feeling more clued-up, aware and empowered than before. An immensely powerful tool that Jim has and uses to great effect with his clients.
Jim has an unrivalled passion for business as well as the people that create them. Businesses of all shapes and sizes. He is probably more interested in businesses that do have a culture and a strong philosophy and how they can be nurtured to grow than those that exist solely for the bottom line. In addition, he has already explained to me that growth can be in a number of ways, not necessarily the bottom line. He has a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise to assist his clients. But uppermost with his coaching, he will not tell businesses what to do. He prefers to gently allow business owners to find their own way by asking the right kind of questions and letting business owners consider all of their alternatives before going forth. He does have a coaching structure which is loosely applied and not overly process oriented, mainly playing what’s in front of him instead of dogmatically trying to enforce what he believes to be right onto a business. This allows his clients to make up their own minds which strengthens the owners own convictions. This is very important as it is the business owners themselves who drive through change. Although I haven’t received any coaching from Jim as of yet, I do get the feeling that his biggest quality is that he makes his clients aware of ALL the opportunities in front of them. Opportunities that they may yet know themselves existed. At the end of the day, he wants to unlock potential and create capability. And from what I hear, he does it very well. He is also fully engaged with the cutting edge of technology, everything from online coaching resources to social media.
Finally, although Jim works as part of Shirlaws coaching (one of the established names in business coaching) and has access to some wonderful resources, he is not paid a salary. He ‘has to feed himself.’ This means that Jim has to confront the range of challenges that the rest of us have too – marketing, networking, sales, customer service, accounting etc. This only improves his expertise as he has to face the same daily challenges as the rest of us. Jim and Shirlaws ‘love business’ tag could not be more true as he briefly explained some of the things Shirlaws have in the pipeline in the medium term.
As I have already said, one of the best thing about every meeting with Jim or every time I read one of his blog posts is that I definitely feel empowerment and that I have learned something. If you too would like to learn new methods to enhance your business.
Jim can be found on Twitter at the following address http://twitter.com/#!/jimatshirlaws
Jim’s blog can be found at http://jimatshirlaws.wordpress.com/
You can read the Jim Henderson daily at http://paper.li/JimatShirlaws
Finally, the Shirlaws website can be found at http://www.shirlawscoaching.com/
I would just like to take this opportunity to say a quick thank you to Brian Tait of Aillum Marketing who has provided a lot of assistance this week with a number of issues. I mentioned Brian’s company a couple of weeks ago. When it comes to online marketing, he really is at the cutting edge of what is going on. You can check out Aillum Marketing at http://www.aillum.com/
Looking forward to another busy week, have a good one folks and thanks for reading…
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Milan, taking style one step further
Posted by benbordone / Comment
One of Europe’s design capitals. I must say it was so exciting to return to a city where I used to live. Milan lives and breathes design, everything from fashion to architecture to interior/product design. It was also the week after the famous Salone del Mobile, so the city was still in a particular ebullient mood.
Men’s corporate Style…
One of the things I like most about Milan is the Milanese men’s fashion. In terms of the corporate style, they are so adventurous in their mixing of accessories with traditional corporate clothing and somehow or other, they pull it off. The blazer and handkerchief mixed with smart jeans and jumper. The corporate suit mixed with trainers giving a utility-corporate look and a range of things you don’t see so often here in the UK, such as experimentations of suits in a wider range of colours, skinny ties, cravats, watches worn over the shirt. All very cool and an impressive extension to the regulated corporate look.
Cutting Edge Product Design
It is probably in product design where Milan’s reputation is strongest. There are a host of shops, in Milan’s San Babila area, selling the most creative and elegant products around. Cassina, B&B Italia, Artemide, etc… These shops sell a host of objects, that its safe to say you wouldnt find in Ikea. One of the more interesting pieces was the UK’s very own Ross Lovegrove’s stunning ‘Cosmic Leaf’ lights. We first set sight on these wonderful objects in the new IDEA hotel in Milan. A very smart and reasonably inexpensive fashion hotel based next to the Central Station. The lights are made of a perforated metal with a stunning texture. it is the combination of the texture and biological form that sets them apart from more traditional lighting solutions.
Design Gone Mad!!
One thing we did see in the midst of Milan’s Montenapoleone area was one of the stars of Milan’s design week itself. The Z-chair by renown Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Zaha Hadid has undoubtedly been one of the designers of the decade, spearheading a very distinctive ‘deconstructive’ style. This modern style is embodied in things like the stunning Abu Dhabi ‘Performing Arts Centre’ as well as the impressive ‘Acquatics Centre’ for London 1012. She has the strongest of signature styles which has, in the last decade, found its way into product design.
Her products all use the exact same aesthetics as the buildings but make greater use of natural forms. This is rare for product designers who tend to stick within a more geometric design language. The Z chair’s sculpted appearance is very smart, very strong and the use of stainless steel lends the design even greater impact.
It costs £200,000. I thought this ridiculous, there may only be 24 pieces being produced but this chair, with very limited functionality is not worth this price. it shows that we are truly in the age of the celebrity designer where Zaha Hadid’s name is now up there with Mark Newson and Phillipe Starque. Yes, the design is impressive but people are not paying for this, they are paying for the ‘Zaha Hadid’ name. The object will not be used as a seat but as something for the rich to show off to their friends. What I find a little insulting is that design of this quality lives in the sketchbooks of hundreds of young unknown designers who could not dream of asking for such a price. I don’t blame Zaha Hadid or anybody in particular I just think its mad.
Stunning Shop Displays
Finally, one of the things that I have always liked about the Duomo area of Milan is that all of the shops have such impressive window displays. They are like works of arts in their own right. We are getting better in Britain, but we still have some to go to beat the Milanese. Elaborate fashion displays complimented with lifestyle products, posters or even theatre props. Some are truly spectacular, and a great way of communicating the brand’s raison d’etre. My favourite this year was Replay Jeans who had basically installed a full jungle into the front of their store. With plants growing (to be honest, they looked more like they we’re dying) in suspended perspex balls, wild leaves and shoots of bamboo all complementing the utility of their jeans. Absolutely brilliant and typical of Milan’s attitude in taking style one step further.
Benedetto Bordone is a designer at the loft | web design Glasgow
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