May 7th, 2013
This lovely green bike at the top left caught my eye at Spin London. Great name too: Rad’s Elegant Butcher:
It’s made by a company called Saffron Frameworks. Although I’d never heard of the company before, I had heard the names of some of the people they’d built bikes for: the creator of coolest mountain biking sheep Mint Sauce, a popular cycling blogger and the guy that holds the World Record for cycling round the world the quickest.
Suddenly I felt like I knew the brand. They were imaginative enough for Joe Birt. Had enough attention to detail for cycle love’s James Greig. Enough function for Mike Hall. It’s the work you do that defines a brand.
May 6th, 2013
I found an old notebook today, which has this image on the cover: Cityscape I,(Landscape No. 1) by Richard Diebenkorn, 1963.
I first saw this painting in San Francisco MOMA way back in 1998. The shadows from the buildings on the left, falling over the road and on the as yet untouched green fields on the right. I’m not sure if it’s what Diebenkorn meant, but to me it is all about humankind’s impact on the environment.
It made a huge impression on me and was one of the reasons I wanted to work ‘for’ the environment. Funny how a painting can do that.
May 4th, 2013
May 3rd, 2013
Brilliant identity for an innovation consultancy – a red bird that continually morphs into different positions.
See it in action at Finch15.com. I love the way it springs into it’s new shape each time, like a new idea forming. Great work by @tim_nolan
May 2nd, 2013
This is the first in a series of posts about brands I love. So it makes sense to start with Patagonia – the wisest and originaliest of green brands. The Buddha of sustainable brands.
I actually only own one thing of theirs. And that’s a bobble hat, albeit a bobble hat that as soon as you put it on transports you to being a ski bum in Aspen in 1978.
But I feel like the brand has been with me for ever.
I remember hearing about them way before seeing any clothes. Things like making the first fleece from recycled plastic bottles. Or reading that they train their staff in peaceful protest. And that they started 1% for the planet – the movement inspiring businesses to give 1% of their sales to environmental organisations.
The list of things go on.And it’s through those things that I got to know and love Patagonia. Not through their clothes. It was through their actions. I could never have seen a single item of theirs, but I’d still know the brand. Brand is what you do.
I remember feeling uncomfortable the first time I heard about the recycled fleece. Something was asking me how much I believed. If I was going to step up. Their shop for second-hand goods on eBay is asking me: are you true enough not to need the new and shiny? Brand is what you stand for. I love Patagonia because it stands for challenging ideas about saving the planet.
The idea at the heart of Patagonia is so strong that it can survive without product. A series of Patagonia lodges. An outdoor skills weekend. A march. A lifelong kit rental club.
It’s a brand that can go anywhere.
April 30th, 2013
It all starts with doing what you love. That’s how you go the extra mile. Do great work. That’s how you tell a story that you care about. That’s why you stand out, people take notice, join you and stuff happens.
So many strong brands start here. It’s the only place a strong brand can start from.
Do what you love.
December 14th, 2012
The Nest is a smart thermostat that learns how you use your home and adjusts the heating / cooling automatically to save energy.
The team behind it designed the original iPod. They’ve pulled off the same trick here than they did to the generic MP3 player – simplifying a clunky product, streamlining a user experience, making it desirable. They’ve created a thermostat that people want to display proudly on the wall, not hide in their kitchen drawer.
Although it’s undoubtedly a sustainable product and the team talk in interviews about saving the world, sustainability is not the primary message. It’s a better, smarter, good looking alternative. A world-changing product without a whiff of worthiness.
Products and brands like Nest reposition sustainability as the stylish and smart option.
December 11th, 2012
July 20th, 2012
There was a real resourcefulness at the heart of many of the products at the Royal College of Art graduation show this year. A smart, frugal approach to making things that goes beyond what I had thought of as ‘traditional’ sustainable design.
- Making a minimal thing to begin with by subtracting to get to the essence of a product
- Taking inspiration from what’s around you or what already exists
- Using the minimal amount of materials and processes to create something
It’s ingenious and not weighed down by the ‘sustainable design’ label. I call it Smart / Frugal and here are some examples.
Refurbished kitchen electronics brought back to life with cork and laboratory seconds. A really bold aesthetic.
Saddle bags that are bent around the existing molds Brooks use to make their iconic saddles. This approach is invisible – you can’t see it in the finished product – but it saves a whole load of energy and metal that would normally be used to make new molds and weaves a story into the product – helping a new product fit the brand better.
July 11th, 2012
In the meantime I kept getting it out of my wallet to look at. The fluoro green grabs your eye. Brixton basketball legend Luol Deng stares out at you, daring you to do something different. There’s some weird foil stamping on the other side. It’s an anti-note.
Even opting out of the banking system this tiny bit felt a thrill. What if we could all do this more? Local money moving around small shops, keeping it out of the banks and their trickery?