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Demand More

5 Feb

This year consumers will demand more than ever.

If you want a cultural eye on the year ahead, check out our amazing article published in Forbes .

 

(Forbes.com)

(Forbes.com)

Cultural Trends 2014

20 Jan

Welcome to 2014

Our job is to look at big cultural shifts, we can see that 2014 is going to be a year where consumers demand more than ever.

Check out our fantastic trends video,  and see for yourself.

Made From Cool

8 Nov

Danish clothing brand Jack and Jones has released a series of five short films titled ‘Made From Cool’ starring Christopher Walken. The series of films sees super slick Walken as a skilled tailor, using his bare hands to shear a sheep and cut a pattern.

Check out the campaign here

These films cleverly demonstrate the brands unique and somewhat supernatural flair at creating the perfect suit, transforming our perceptions of traditional tailoring techniques.

A Foil for the Magical

21 Aug

An exhibition currently at the Faggionato Fine Art Gallery showcases the work of Yoshihiro Suda. His work is beautiful, yet extraordinary simple. He painstakingly carves weeds out of wood, transforming the everyday into the spectacular. Suda’s work offers a space for contemplating craft and the skilled hand of the craftsman. In the gallery, Suda’s weeds sprout between paving stones, hide behind a radiator, or find a forgotten corner of the floor.

Suda Yoshihiro (galerialeme.com)

Suda Yoshihiro (galerialeme.com)

The scale of these weeds incites wonder as you must get down on the floor to inspect them as they inconspicuously ‘grow’ in the gallery space. Suda’s project is to hide craft behind the object, to stop an object looking handmade and deceive the viewer. Another craftsman playing with the everyday as the site of the spectacular is Arturo Erbsman . His polar lights and snow mesh capture the magic of snow and ice – and entice the viewer to pay more attention to the natural world.

Arturo Erbsman (arturoerbsman.com)

Arturo Erbsman (arturoerbsman.com)

Suda’s and Erbsman’s work reveal the magical in the everyday. Craftsmanship here is not admired for its skill or endeavour – instead it entices wonder and asks for your attention.

 

Super-cyclers

7 Aug

We’ve talked before about brands promising a story but failing to deliver. Well, this story-telling is the real deal. On a recent scoping expedition – searching for expressions of Brazilian-ness in London – we naturally headed straight to the specialist alcohol shop for a Cachaҫa run, where this Germana bottle caught our eye.

Germana Cachaҫa (amathusdrinks.com)

Germana Cachaҫa (amathusdrinks.com)

It turns out the banana leaf wrapping, whilst beautiful and rustic, is much more than a design feature. Originally, due to the small numbers involved in production, the Cachaҫa was poured into any discarded bottle close to hand. The banana leaf was wrapped around the bottle in order to disguise the brand logo. But this banana leaf has been retained in the exported version as a story-rich link to the brand’s past.

This theme of up-cycling seems to be strong in many areas of Brazilian culture, where ingenuity is a design statement. This furniture exhibition of Brazilian ‘super-cyclers’ celebrates socially responsible design that transforms waste materials into beautiful objects.  Also, the film ‘Waste Land’ documents Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s project, with trash-pickers, in a Rio landfill to create self-portraits using the discarded material they work with every day.

 

 

 

Rom-Jobs

6 Aug

It was once the publishing house, ad agency and graphic design firm. Then it was the furniture design space and indie record label. But now, the best place to get a real sense of what the ‘it’ job is for today’s youth is romantic comedies. Nothing paints so endearing a picture of exactly what profession will make our hearts swoon – with its blend of creativity (that pays), good-intentioned love of one’s vocation and eclectic gaggle of quirky comrades – as the modern romantic comedy.

It’s seems the craft brewery is next on the list.

'Drinking Buddies' (reelgood.com)

‘Drinking Buddies’ (reelgood.com)

May I introduce ‘Drinking Buddies,’ a hoppy romp through late-twenties, early thirties stop-and-go-mance from Joe Swanberg. Craft brewing is unassailably cool, due in no small part to beards and flannel. And girls who love beer are probably what girls that have tattoo sleeves were five years ago. So yes, we can see why the small batch brewery would be an aspirational career move.

It seems to have a finely tuned appeal to the male audience.  At the risk of invoking a stereotype, beer is a subject close to the heart of the average male consumer.  But, additionally, the craft brewer as a character type balances the accessibility of ‘everyman’ with the potential alienation of ‘highly skilled craftsmen’ quite evenly.

We wonder, what’s next?

Coming soon – ‘Found,’ the story of a hapless Freegan forager running a faltering bistro in a faltering part of Detroit who meets a Scandi chef who has lost her Michelin stars and her way.  Turns out the only thing not locally-sourced is love…

Made of Steel

1 Aug

Hornbach is one of the leading retail companies in the DIY market. They use wicked ideas in their outrageous advertising. The latest comes from Germany, where this summer Hornbach has reinvented the hammer. They built this common household tool out of a very special material: steel from a retired Soviet tank.

From Hornbach Baumarkt's Facebook page

From Hornbach Baumarkt’s Facebook page

They promoted it with this video of the creation process (and perfectly chosen background music). 

This special origin of the tool created a huge buzz, especially as it was released in very limited numbers – 7000 hammers worldwide. While the campaign was only shown in Germany, some collectors crossed the ocean to get this piece of steel for their tool collection.

Now, these rare tools are distributed in far-flung places – from islands in the North Sea, to a cruise ship on the Danish coast, to a sex shop in the famous Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s ‘red-light district’. People who still desire this macho tool are now challenged to go on little adventures to find them.

It’s a strong example of how an iconic, historical object – embedded with a trace of its former life – can be repurposed, retaining its allure, to capture the imagination of historical enthusiasts.

China’s Cultural Masterpieces – The Rice Terraced Fields

27 Jun

In South West China, close to the borders of Vietnam and Laos, lies an incredible mountain range covering more than 13,000 hectares.  But these are no ordinary mountains. Since the Tang Dynasty, the Hani people have been meticulously shaping these slopes into one of the most remarkable examples of landscape art we have ever seen.

Over generations of rice cultivation, they’ve transformed the space into unique, integrated ecological system – an integrated system of terraces that are staggering in their sheer size and beauty.  Just as staggering is the unique, finely-tuned, integrated ecological system they’ve developed.  Making use of the water resources conserved by the forest on the mountain, the terraced fields on the hillsides have formed a vast artificial everglade bursting with rice crops, aquatic animals and plants.

The place feels both magical and effortful.  While the rainbow of colours emerging from the soil, plant-life and reflected sky lend these fields an entirely other-worldly sheen, it’s impossible to dismiss the sheer human graft that went into creating them.  Residents still use traditional tools and methods to farm these fields, as they have done for ages.  It creates a striking paradox – being transported way back in time while at the same time being in an enormous cutting edge modern contemporary art installation. It seems a real and rare manifestation of the perfect marriage between industry and nature, perhaps a prescient lesson for the rapidly modernizing China.

All words aside, though… just look.

China Fields Cultural Insight

Reel Science

28 May

IBM is hardly the first name that springs to mind when we think of interesting brands. The name itself, International Business Machine, merits a groan. So, imagine our surprise when we saw this, The Smallest Movie Ever Made.  (And don’t miss the ‘making of’ on the same page.)  IBM’s research team manipulate individual molecules like mother nature’s own pixels to create this 90-second storylet.   

IBM - The Smallest Movie Ever Made

IBM – The Smallest Movie Ever Made

While not quite the jaw-dropping Inner Space scene we might have imagined the quantum world to look like (though give  that boy some glasses and he could pass for Rick Moranis), this is truly amazing.

Vanity project or reputation building, we think it’s quite a smart thing for IBM. The largely B2B tech firm has never before inspired anymore than the aforementioned groan from us, and we wager from others as well. But this actually makes us think that IBM is pushing the frontiers of tech. Moreover, the whimsy of this project softens the brand’s metallic edges and gives those of us not in charge of IT at a Fortune 500 a reason to give a toss.

Fit the Bill-board

15 Apr

Thai home furnishings and hardware shop HomePro recently unveiled a new campaign of sidewalk billboards. More than just your usual advertising fodder, each billboard was fitted on its reverse with trendy wallpaper and useful objects like shelving, hangers and lights.

  Billboard Cultural Insight

Once the campaign ened, the sturdy boards were then offered up to the community at large to become free, but useful, walling for makeshift dwellings. Thailand, like many places globally, has problems with poverty and housing shortages. These sustainable corporate message boards present an interesting addition to the debate around corporate interest and public space.  With many municipalities stretched to their fiscal drawstrings, what role can the corporate world play? And how much room is there in that role for blatantly commercial messages? An even bigger brand addressing this question in a bigger way is LandProp Holdings, the real-estate wing of Swede-shop IKEA.   The 26-acre Strand East  has been much reported on and views vary, but there is no denying IKEA’s penchant for remaining at the fore of cultural issues.  Check out our Cultural Traction website for more.

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