Seth Godin, the famous icon who popularized opt ins and permission marketing and very successfully conceived the idea of hybrid publishing just came out with this blog: (I extracted only a portion of it.)
A tacky mess: the masses vs. great design Designers prune.
Left to its own devices, the mob will augment, accessorize, spam, degrade and noisify whatever they have access to, until it loses beauty and function and becomes something else.
The tragedy of the design commons.
An Apple product designed with user feedback would have thousands of extra features, multiple input methods and weigh 18 pounds.
(The best exception to this rule are some--not all--places where people live, including parts of Manhattan and Kibera, Kenya. But even in the best instances, as soon as commercial interests are served, it starts to fail).
It seems democratic and non-elitist to set it and forget it and let the users take over. But the tools we use (Wikipedia) and the brands we covet (Nike or Ducati) resolutely refuse to become democracies.
Note the profound meaning in the words: resolutely refuse to become democracies.
Our high technology society has given us a brand landscape studded with similar clones where we peddle the same products touting enhanced benefits; giving rise to what Youngme Moon describes as category connoisseurism. Never in the course of written history has there been such abundance of choices in a single category. There are more upgrades, flavors, add-ons, new and improved features between brands in a category that all looks the same. They have managed achieved the sameness of the flat lands of North Dakota and the exhibiting industry is no exception to that. Consumers, are now category connoisseurs. Again, in the words of Moon, “connoisseurs can discern subtle differences based on nuanced asymmetries”, while an ignoramus will lack the necessary know-how to predict differentiating subtleties.
When a a brand creates a competitive advantage in a category, it gains rapid momentum. A momentum orbits around expectation and anticipation that leads to the longevity of a brand. Competitive advantage comes with a value proposition that is highly valued and not in abundant supply. We are proud to say that Envoy III is one such design leap in the pre-fabricated world of booth designs with a value proposition that will help brands to break away from the limiting norms of exhibiting and helping our clients to be perceived with expanded frame of reference. A definite delineation from the mediocrity of the masses.
"Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace." Bhagavad Gita, Zen and now the mathematical equations of quantum physics do not prescribe actual existence - they predict the potential for existence. It states that solidity is a construct of the ordinary mind and that there never was anything permanent to begin with that we could hold on to. Hence, life would be much more efficient if we lived with the knowledge of impermanence as the only constant.
Some 3000 years later the same philosophy gets a refresher course in the Google campuses of the high-tech Silicon Valley. Cordell Ratzlaff and Irene Au discusses about creating from the heart and subtracting the attachment factor from the impending results. Watch the video. It is an half hour journey into creativity and mindfulness.
When you are not attached to the result in one way or the other, you become so focused in the now that the clarity of your mind goes on over drive. It accesses the wisdom of uncertainty. In uncertainty, lies the freedom from known belief and past conditioning. Professional players are at their best when they are in this "zone". Designers and musicians often surrender themselves to this field of all possibilities. By doing so, they welcome the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.
Keep in mind. You do not give up the intention or the desire to create. You give up your attachment to the result.
"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do." Rumi
As I come to an end, the words of Dōgen Zenji illuminates my mind: “Do not treasure or belittle what is far away, but be intimate with it. Do not treasure or belittle what is near, but be intimate with it. Do not make light of or a big deal of what you see with your eyes. Do not make light of or a big deal of what you hear with your ears. Rather, illuminate your eyes and ears.”
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Perception Matters! In a visual marketing bazaar such as trade fairs and conventions, every visit to your booth space leads to a build up of pre-conceived notion that is carried on every subsequent encounter that your clients might have with your products and or your services. Be very purposeful as to how you want your brand to be perceived. You walk into a space of clutter, confusion and mundane the products and services will be perceived as such. On the other hand you walk into a space of elegance, simplicity and controlled light; you are in a perceptual space of high technology and smart efficiency. You see, simplicity and complexity are mutually dependent. Because, technology only continues to grow more complex; there is a massive economic and emotional advantage to present it in a simple and humanized space.
Be Aware! Your brand elements like logos, tag lines, trademarks, packaging and your display might be yours; but the reality is, it is owned by your customers and your prospects; it is their perception of your company that impacts your bottom line and ultimately your survival. We live in a 24 hour connected world. Be aware of the savvy planetary word-of-mouth. Be aware, even before you get to pitch about your brand uniqueness, you might be encountering prospects that have formed perceptions about your brand. If it is positive, your brand achieves victory, if it is negative, you shift in the mind-set of damage control. Triumphant lesson from Avis: When Avis (the # 2 car rental behind Hertz) anchored in "We try harder", all of a sudden the brand gained momentum to aspire for something bigger: the perception that played out was being #2 is positive and goal oriented.
Propagating the Positive Perception. Start with how you want your customers and prospects to think, feel, remember, and experience your exhibiting space. The over arching goal should be Positive Memory Retention. Be courageous to be different and make memorable limbic connections with your visitors.
Focus on white space. It is your strategic weapon. Let it be. — Do no cover every surface with your story. Remember, we live in an overwhelming information grinding digital age. Your exhibiting environment should be all about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. Architectural elements and textures should work towards empowering your brand style and image. Do not use elements to define your style. Your brand becomes commoditized. Great example is bamboo being synonymous with Green. If you want to convey Green ideals, it is a good idea to stay away from the invasive bamboo and perhaps try the controversial hemp. It is guaranteed to trigger the memorability factor amongst your audience.
Hundreds of images came across my desk from CES 2012. However, the synaptic nerves made new connections when Huawei appeared. It happened to be the memorable trigger factor for this article. Thank you Huawei. You look magnificent!
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As RSS feeds, blogging, social search, social bookmarking, social networks and micro platforms gain more prominence we often tend to question the more traditional aspects of marketing. Trade shows in particular may seem to be the hallmark of previous generations' marketing strategies. However, recent studies confirm that physical events, like trade shows and conferences continue to be a dominant phase in the business-to-business product sourcing and buying processes.
Given this empirical evaluation of trade shows, creating a space with an effective brand engagement is a precondition to a memorable experience. As marketing exhibitors, we have a unique opportunity to connect with customers and prospects from an emotional and psychological standpoint by engaging all of their external five senses. Our sensory receptors react directly to stimulation from our environment and trade shows are the ideal settings for which to cleverly attend to the needs of the limbic system of your attendees. The limbic system is the seat of our emotional interpretation.
As marketers, if we understand that increased sensitivity from intense demand on the brain will increase the number of pathways between neurons, we can be assured of a strong brand expansion. For each time a item is stored and cross referenced in the brain, a new pathway to that item is sensitized. It is truly remarkable what long term memory allows us to recall. Memories that co-occur with audio, visual and other sensory perceptions are part of the LTM system. For instance, each time a song is heard the memory is re-lived while a certain smell will stimulate a very specific memory based on that smell. Our limbic system will always have an over arching command at live trade shows and events. Providing an exultant environment forges new neural pathways in the brain, refreshing and sustaining your unique brand essence.
According to the neurobiologist Dr. Carla J. Shatz, neurons that fire together wire together.
The question to ponder: Is my brand firing memories the way I want to?
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"ABUNDANCE, ASIA and AUTOMATION" has brought us to the doorstep of Conceptual Age. Prosperity, Technology and Globalization has presented us with the paramount challenge: How do we make our products and services shine? The simple answer is Upscale Design for Common Commodities. Ben Evans, director of London Design Festival said: "Design and creativity are one of the key competitive advantages companies in developing economies can have. In the future it will probably the only one that they have left." The same sentiment is shared by Robert Hayes, professor emiritus at Harvard Business School: "Fifteen years ago companies competed on price. Now, it's quality. Tomorrow it's design."
Nicholas Hayek, chairman of the Swatch Group instilled the magic of design in his Swiss watches when faced with Digital Delirium from the Japanese watch makers. In the Swiss culture of high-end hand made watches, Hayek embraced the opportunity of this new technology. He re-engineered the conventional watches into a technological wonder. However, he realized that this piece of high technology was missing the high touch of design and poetry. So he combined his high-tech product with vibrant color and flamboyant design. Then, with a single stroke of marketing flair he created scarcity by limiting the number of copies made for each model. Hayek created miracle. He elevated his commodity from the assembly line and injected it with the fantasy of a six year old.
This brings up the point is Design a mere fanciful piece of decoration that dolls up places and objects. That is the serious misunderstanding of DESIGN. John Heskett, Chair Professor of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University states that Design is a combination of utility and sigificance. For example the Skyline Pop-up Trade show display is a trade show portable utility. But at its most effective, it is a carbon composite self-locking frame. There are no connectors. You literally pop it up and there it stands. That is significance.
As we usher in the Conceptual Age, utility enhanced by significance is now the definition of Design. Design is a means of differentiation. Design is an enabler in creating new markets. "Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world did not know it was missing." Paola Antonelli, curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art.
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The great Italian polymath, Leonardo da Vinci comes to my mind as the master of subtle suggestion. He aggressively exploited the technique of sfumato (the fine shading that produces soft, imperceptible transitions between colors and tones to form a smoky effect) to bring forth this power of subtle seduction. His fabled work, Mona Lisa is a masterful manifestation of this technique. Da Vinci was well versed in the seductive power of limiting knowledge. He recognized that when things are open to interpretation, we are driven by our imaginations and our creative interpolations. The result: the bliss of an eternal enigma; Mona Lisa.
Mathew May, author of Shibumi Strategy says "Leave something to the imagination by limiting information". He says, because human spirit is indefinable the power of suggestion is exalted as the mark of truly authentic creation. Finiteness—dotting every "i" and crossing every "t"— is thought to be at odds with nature, implying stagnation and loss of life. In Zen terms this is the principle of Yugen. As Mathew puts it Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs both recognized the power of Yugen in art and business. The mysterious smile of Mona Lisa seduces us to arrive at different interpretation every time we look at her because, of the missing definition of her mouth. Leonardo was a master in blending light and shade. He used light to define forms, model them and create the illusion of depth. His softened sfumato contours dissolve into the shadows and into light.
May goes on to mention, when Apple launched iphone, Steve Jobs only demonstrated it once at Macworld 07. It did not go on sale until June. In between there was this long silence. The bloggers and Apple loyalists took over and interpreted with creative modulations. The iPhone "tipped" over even before it went on sale. Rest is history.
The seduction of suggestion is very evident in the design of Pivot Point Regatta Pop Up trade show booth. It seduces the viewer into fancy contemplation. It creates a sense of informal restlessness. It entices the viewer and acts as a silent prompt to engage in a conversation with the booth staffer.
The Art of design now becomes the Art of Business!
The alphabet "I" is tall and confident. It is an elegant stroke of human expression. "I" traces back to Phoenician letter Yodh, the hand, as a representation of an entire arm. The Greeks used a highly simplified version of it for iota (Ι), the nineth letter of the Greek alphabet. The Romans used it as "I", as we know it today.
In geometry "I" is the shortest distance between two points of reference. In high mathematics "i" is the imaginary number. It solves unsolvable complex equations that is rudiment to our present technological civilization. "I" has been the work-horse of human culture since the dawn of time. Pre-historic man used the "I" [ fallen tree trunks] to bridge streams. In 484 B.C., Herodotus documented the first bridge in history built with timber and supported by stone columns accross the Euphrates river some 300 years ago. The tall "I" (column) has been the core of architecture since classical antiquity. Interestingly, the complex nervous system of human anatomy is efficiently catered by "I". We are defiant in the face of gravity.
"I" being deep rooted in our human psyche, we have made it modular, elegant and intelligent. We arrange bunch of "I"s in a linear fashion to create back walls. We use the strength of the "I" in our towers and we use clusters of "I"s in trade show island designs.
The concept of abstract elegance becomes an object of 5 senses in the creative hands of the architect, Sou Fujimoto. He uses Red for the "I" intrigue. He seduces the viewer with the softnes of the white gauze fabric, while exploring the work of Japanese fashion designers in relation to the art, culture and costume history of their country.
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The term bi•zarre |biˈzär| means odd, eccentric and strikingly out of the ordinary. The bizzare is the construct of our creative, nonconformist right brain. It is absolutely absurd, crazy, nonsensical, preposterous. It is unreal. It is wild. It is fanciful. It is the bizzare that creates movements and sets trends. An example is The Dada (movement or more of a non-movement) that began in Zurich in reponse to the insane killings of World War I. The movement was spearheaded by people walking in the bizzare. Artists, poets, writers, intellectuals all concerted their efforts on anti-war politics by denouncing the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. Their purpose was to taunt what they considered to be the nonsensical nationalism, rationalism, materialism and any other -ism which they felt had contributed to a senseless war. An example of the outrageous Dada art is the painting of Mona Lisa with a mustache by Marcel Duchamp.
As crazy as it sounds, the movement chose the name “Dada” by inserting a slip of paper into a French dictionary. It so happened that the paper landed on the word dada, which happens to mean a hobbyhorse or child's toy. A bizarre idea to create non-art moved on to be a powerful influencer of avant-garde, downtown music, surrealism, Nouveau réalisme, pop art, Fluxus and punk rock.
We are in an age of bizarre mass media homogeneity. Very often, we are concerned about the market approval rather than our inner consent. As easy as it is to follow the trend and become a part of mediocre mainstream, it is crucial as designers and thought leaders to step out of the proven path of mediocrity and experience the backroads of bizarre....there is only one rule. Never follow any known rules. You will be amazed!
I owe this indulgence in the bizarre to a bizarre blog that I had come across a few days ago. It seems like the writer, if even for a moment happend to realize the illusive nature of our universe.
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In Latin, December means the tenth month. History dictates that in 700 BC, the Roman King Numa Pompilius moved the beginning of the year from March and added January and February. From here on, the nameless dark stretch contributed to the 12 month Gregorian calendar as we now know.
December to me, is the month of instrospection and reflection. It is a white canvas in waiting. White is the merging of all that it is. It is light. It aids mental clarity, evokes purification of thoughts and enables fresh beginnings. It is intellectual intelligence that requries us to go through such a period of "whiteness" before creativity manifests itself in the form yellow daffodils, in early spring.
"The first of all single colors is white ... We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for the earth; green for water; blue for air; red for fire; and black for total darkness."– Leonardo Da Vinci
The Room gives us an exclusive experience in white. Designed by Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg along with The Bay CEO Bonnie Brooks, the 1858 sqm space uses white as color base, punctuated by polished metal, glass, chandeliers and geometric curves to showcase its wares. The design changed and transformed the perception of space as we understand in retail. Launched in October of last year at a cost of $3.8 million, the refurbishment saw the doubling in size of the store’s iconic St Regis Room to create The Room. It now encompasses more than 70 high fashion labels and European lines, some of which are exclusive to The Bay.
Smart, effective and timeless white ensures endurance and resilience–a key layer to any design classic!
“I would define intellectual elegance as a mind that is continually refining itself with education and knowledge. Intellectual elegance is the opposite of intellectual vulgarity.”
Intellectual elegance is that exalted level of intelligence which has produced all the masterpieces in the history of mankind. I believe it resides in the most beautiful emotion that we experience in the mysterious within us. The Hindu sages call it serpent shakti. The Chinese Masters call it chi. It is intellectual elegance that Einstein speaks about when he says: "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion."
History and our post-modern society is interspersed with Intellectual Elegance. It is in the eloquence of the Pyramids, in the Renaissance paintings, in the sublime writings of Goethe, in Pythagorean Theorems, in Tesla Coil Theory. You name it, it is there. It is the golden thread that guides us to the best solution of whatever we do. It is the definitive goal of our minds - the one beyond compromises.
"It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science...To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly....." [Einstein 1930]....this is Intellectual Elegance.
Intellectual elegance is also our community consciousness and our moral imperative. It is the deepest meaning and the ethos of Design.
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In my writings I am often an explorer, a map maker, sometimes a voyager of the human mind and other times: a creator who is tormented by the inner longing to expand, express and delight !