Monday, July 27, 2009

A miniature design adventure

The E2 team got creative over the weekend, and all took up the challenge of turning a champagne cork into a classic or contemporary miniature chair. The impetus for this splurge of creativity is part of a competition organised by furniture design studio, Living Edge, as part of Saturday in Design, an annual trade event for the design community, now in it's 6th year.

The judges will be looking for wit, originality and craftmanship to be in for a chance to win an iconic Eames Lounge and Ottoman. Pop along to Living Edge (74 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills) at 3pm on Saturday 1st August, to view the assortment of entries for this miniature design haven.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sparkling M towers over Melbourne

The city of Melbourne may have paid "$A240,000 for a fat blocky M" however this flat block represents the culture in this cosmopolitan city. The national leader in architecture is represented through the geometric forms. The graphic segmentation represents the topography of this city from it's eclectic café and fashion cultures to the wine country. The reflective vortexes graphically sparkle like gems, signifying this forward thinking city.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Inspirational Spaces

Last Monday, E2 gathered at Customs House in eager anticipation to listen to Alex Ritchie (E2) and John Bilmon (PTW) share their inspiration around what constitutes an inspirational space as part of AGDA's latest series of public talks. Both, impressive in their delivery, talked about the relationship between nature and architecture. This symbiotic relationship shed some light on just some of the places that Alex sources inspiration from when starting a new project. What I found most interesting from this talk is how nature informs engineering in so many ways. For example, who would have thought that the structure of the Millennium Dome was inspired by a Jelly Fish. In fact, when you look at many of the most impressive buildings in the world, much of the inspiration comes from the natural engineering that lives in our lands and deep in our oceans. Take for example Buckminster Fuller's futurist visions of cityscapes, where he addresses the importance of sustainable growth, taking its learnings and borrowing from some of natures core values, e.g. camouflage, adaptation, growth, interrelations and change.

John Bilmon's astounding and comprehensive description of The Water Cube - the Aquatic Centre for 2008 Olympics in Beijing, further compounded the importance nature plays in the role of engineering. Through an extensive series of design concepts, John explained how the planning team at PTW Architects had gone through a gruelling audit to identify how best to emulate the natural formations of bubbles as part of the Cube's structure. The team also ensured that the building naturally related to the adjacent Olympic building to strengthen the relationship between the gender roles each building had with each other, the yin to the yan. It was impressive to learn how nature had all the answers to some of their biggest engineering challenges and in fact the final structure was informed by Chinese culture, history and geographical location.

Although it may be an unfamiliar term to most people, biomimicry, or looking to nature for design inspiration, is not a new approach to solving design challenges. In fact, its guiding principles have served to inspire architectural works, breakthroughs, and consumer products for centuries.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tangible vs Intangible

The realm of brand experience is broadening all the time, and as media further fragments, so will the definitions that define a particular channel. So for example, outdoor and ambient media is case and point where the line between these two channels blur. The same can be said about brand experience; it is no longer just applicable to outdoor events, exhibitions or promotional sampling opportunities of a brand. The term is so much wider than that, the user experience through a website; the 5 second decision at the supermarket shelf; a recommendation from a friend for a new flavoured chewing gum, and the list goes on. So you could argue that any engagement a consumer has with a brand, is a brand experience.

In this post I'm interested in exploring the experience a consumer has with a brand in the physical space. There are two components that make up this form of brand engagement, broken into tangibles and intangibles. The tangibles comprise the spatial design; the materials used to form the physical construction. For example the structure, flooring, lighting, finish and so forth. The intangibles are driven by human factors and are about how a consumer engages with those aspects of a brand you can't touch, but you can feel and leave a lasting memorable impression. These comprise of service, process, delivery, education, tone and behavior. If you can get these aspects right you are likely to get your consumer recommending the experience to friends. We call this the design of the experience, critical to the holistic brand experience.

A great example of a project which successfully merges the tangibles with the intangibles is the newly constructed Qantas Centre for Service Excellence in Sydney. The project undertaken by E2 and MPA Construction Group is the first of it's kind in Australia. E2 Creative Director, Alex Ritchie has worked on some of the worlds most notable design experiences, including the Millennium Dome, Guinness Storehouse and Disneyland in Paris.

A 5000M2 space, with a 20 meter wide piazza in the centre. This is the heart or hub of the centre, where staff and attendees can socialise, eat and network. As you move into the peripherals of the hub, different zones address Qantas' different training needs, including simulated cabin crew pods, workstations, image and presentation areas. Critical to the Qantas brand, customer service is an omnipresent intangible factor to the Qantas experience. 'Every moment counts' is the creative concept behind this project, which is brought to life successfully by creating brand drama as attendees walk through this pioneering space.

In effect, this project sets the benchmark of what a total brand experience should embody by cleverly ensuring Qantas brand attributes are ubiquitously imbued into every part of the experience.