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HOME SWEET HOME

The brand Camper is looking at ‘what has always been from another angle’. In Casa Camper, the Camper hotel, time passes more slowly and one breathes a Mediterranean air.

Instantly I seemed to have adopted Campers brand attitude to look at things differently so I’m going to start describing from the inside of this hotel and work myself out, (secretly I already feel like I don’t want to leave the place!) First impressions are that of a comfortable waiting room, long metal benches, remind me of airport lounges. I mean that to be a compliment. While airport lounges still have a long way to be aesthetically pleasing, Casa camper seems to have combined the utilities of a lounge, (space/ergonomic materials) with the comfort and informality of a home. i-am love Camper. Camper have a special twist to all the work they produce and a deep respect for their Mediterranean roots. This combination, magic and heritage, gives the brand scope to explore, branch out into the many areas of branding. Branding today is becoming a world of ideas. Camper have build their own world and Casa Camper invites us to experience this world and way of thinking.

Sleek double seated benches back from the reception area onto a dining area. Food is available at all times in the hotel. There is a self serve kitchen, canteen, open 24 hrs and you are able to eat where you like. i-am love this informal approach, that you are able to walk around with your food, like in your own home! The interior is a contrast of industrial furniture with traditional images, photos of old shop fronts in BCN. There are maps everywhere…great i-am love maps. This is so you not only know where you are but can plan your next BCN adventure!

Up the shaded lit stairs you are greeted with a spectacular terrace. Guest are encouraged to use the stairs I am told, thats ok I think, I wanna be part of Camper. I like what I see and feel good following their brand statement, ‘The walking Society’. This area gives the guest a way of feeling and living Mediterranean. Another home from home touch which i-am love is the herb garden and tomatoes growing in the corner!

The whole hotel is dimly lit. Its dark, but gives a refreshing feeling, especially needed from the humidity outside in the Summer. The deep red and green colours of the interior walls work relaxing colour therapy on you. The hotel has a small number of rooms and a nice Camper concept to go with them. Not only do you get you bedroom but across the corridor you have you own private living room. Ah so Spanish, relaxation always on there mind…MC hammock time!

The bedroom side of the building backs on to a wall. Space is a luxury in BCN and as a result town planning seems all over the place! But that is BCN charm and because of this the cities architecture holds clever surprises, ideas to utilize spaces. So while the bedrooms hold no view they have cleverly created a vertical garden, a wall of huge pot plants. The living areas have a small balcony to watch on the street below. i-am also loved the eye chart in the bathrooms, for you to read while doing your toilet business!

‘Design means basically three things for Camper. The desire to integrate and function into its products:ethics and aesthetics. Imagining better solutions, incorporating available technology to make these products more useful, more responsible, so that they improve people health and quality of life.’

Some subtle design touches i-am noticed while mooching about, the robot top coat hanger in reception and collection of strange objects found in the building before the hotel was built. These objects are displayed in glass cabinets in the reception area. Reminded me of the London Paul Smith headquarters, where his collection of inspiration objects have been cased in wooden /glass cabinets, becoming the interior decoration of the reception area.

Camper collaborate with over 40 world class designers (I was interested to discover Neville Brody was one of them). Marti Guixe a Catalan designer has applied his radicalism, wit, and handwriting superbly to Casa Camper. Described as ‘a hedgehog in a land of foxes’ this man sits perfectly with the brand and hence has created a strong partnership on many projects. If you do nothing else today but look at his website, that is enough!

And that brings me back to the start, the outside, where I could almost miss the entrance to the door of the hotel but that’s what I like instantly about it. It was there but not screaming in your face look and me, just a splash of red, some shoes quietly, mischievously poking under, saying look over here!

Camper as a brand have remained humble despite their deserved global success. ‘Design does not solve all company problems, but it does contribute its bit to what we call a cultural and human approach to business activity’. They encourage branding to ‘keep walking through the world with imagination’ and if you do need to stop and relax along the way, i-am highly recommend Casa Camper.

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SOAP RAINBOW

Sweet smells, Delicious colours, and a product you can enjoy everyday! Soap shop Sabater Hnos. Fabrica de Jabones.

Keeping in the neighbourhood, tucked around the corner from Plaza de St Felip Neri is a sweet smelling soap shop Sabater Hnos. Fabrica de Jabones.

This soap shop couldn’t be more individual if it tried. If it were a person I would describe them as, elegant, educated, and dogmatic. Elegant, because of the simple layout, almost barn like, using all the old Spanish features and painting them deep cool colours. Educated, because the shapes of the soap reference periods of art, reminding me of tiles designed by architect, Alvar Aalto, and Rennie Mackintosh, designs, paintings (particularly the logo). The colours are pigments you only find in specialized paint shops. Dogmatic, because this space states this is my style, way of looking at a brand/product, and I will not compromise because I am different! Infact it is rather a nice way of looking at approaching a brand, imagining if it were a person, what qualities would you want it to hold.

Independent brands like Sabater Hnos. Fabrica de Jabones are so valuable to the market. They create original ideas with an everyday product. While they may be small in quantity they are high in quality. While they may be over looked, simply missed by the masses, they are greatly appreciated by those who discover them. This is shop encompasses true BCN style…A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Some i-am favourite eye catches. The BCN tiles gift set, (the design as seen on the street tiles of BCN!) and hundreds and thousands soap scoop box. The packaging of produce was all in cardboard, humble and cost effective. Another nice touch was the logo, stamped on bags, again, cost effective and also a nice contrast with the glossier packaging.

HIDDEN OASIS

Plaza de Sant Felip Neri is a peaceful space hidden in the Gothic Quarter for the locals or unsuspecting tourist, to discover.

Or to be more precise, Plaza de Sant Felip Neri is a peaceful space for the locals to hide from the tourists! You won’t find this plaza written up in any guide book and because of its privacy it make an idyllic spot. The name lends itself to that of the The Hotel Neri (situated round the corner). The hotel bar, overflows into the courtyard, an ideal place for a quiet drink. Quietness is somewhat of a luxury in the bustling BCN.

The Gothic Quarter is an area of BCN. Here can be found Roman architecture from 2000 years ago, mansions, Church’s, fresco’s. The narrow, windy streets let you loose all sense of direction and feel like you really are discovering a slice of underground Barcelona. While this Plaza holds hard memories of Franco’s dictatorship ironically, the space now is tranquil and incredibly pretty. Dappled in sunlight it is a favoured spot with the locals to sit and relax. I feel to, an appropriate spot to pause to remember Spanish history.

To think that its only 32 years ago, in 1975 that Franco’s reign ended. Quite remarkable how this city has developed, and, how it has preserved it’s identity. The 1992 Olympics marked the beginning of a long process of urban renewal, a city reborn. Quite remarkable how identity, whether referring to a brand, personality, country is so powerful. i-am as designers have a great responsibility to create new identity while preserving old ones.

THE DETAIL OF RETAIL

The Detail Of Retail. The Five Essential Steps for the Perfect Customer Experience.

‘i-am’ associates have published an Insight Guide entitled ‘The Detail of Retail’. The Book is based on the invaluable perspective of Retail Guru and ‘i-am’ Director Tim Jeffrey.
The Guide highlights five essential ingredients that represent the essence of a Great Customer Experience. The list is in fact endless as is the customer’s demands in exchange for their loyalty. But here is a good place to start. Use this Guide as a checklist against your own brand experience and to hold against that of others.

‘The Detail of Retail’ is available from the ‘i-am’ Shop for £5.00 (+ £3.00 p&p)

Alternatively order ‘The ‘i-am’ Yellow Book – Quotes and Images from a New Perspective’ for £18.00 (+ £3.00 p&p) and receive a FREE copy of ‘The Detail of Retail’

Visit the ‘i-am’ Shop HERE for more images and information.

THE NATURE OF THINGS

Th Nature of Things is a collection of works by the Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The collection of works, photographs to several installations explore light and space. Some exhibits are designd specifically for the venue which is at the Miro Foundation. This is a beautiful architectural space and I feel Olafur Eliasson specifically designing installations for this space pays great homage to Miro. Indeed the parallels between each artist, ‘innovative, exploratory spirit and freedom’ placed Olafur Eliasson as a deserved winner of the 2007 Joan Miro prize.

The title of the exhibition ‘The Nature of Things’ I interpret as doing just that. Here are things in a space and the magic of this artist is he gives a feel, ‘nature’, natural feel to things, everyday things. His experimentation with things in spaces gives the viewer an altered perception of space…themselves in that space. His works include, invite the viewer to the space therefore to the artwork. Because of this we become really involved, physically and emotionally, our experience of the work is heightened. Yes I am talking about art works here but this philosophy can also be applied to brands, brand marketing.

An i-am favourite installation is a huge table of white Lego!!!! You can sit down on benches and get creating add to the artwork..adding to the experience. By it being monotone in colour it is visually sophisticated, appealing to the adult in us and by it being tactile, Lego, it appeals to the child in all of us, playful!

In fact this is why Olafur Eliasson is a genius. Intelligence of an adult and innocent of a child are two qualities we all have. I feel great artist are those who are able to source on these and combine the both. When you look at his work you are left feeling both deep respect and wide eyed like a child.

Check out the Sepentine Gallery Pavillion 2007 project on his website.

ALL TOGETHER NOW

I have had my eye on this little place since its been under construction. Even then the papered up, windows were considered, decorated with enchanting doodle drawings that gave it some magic pull and added to the curiosity of what lies behind. Todojunto is a gallery/design/meeting point. In their own words ‘ Todojunto is dedicated to the promotion and exhibition of independent cultural projects. Primarily the space acts as a platform for graphic works (illustration, painting, photography and graphics in general), record labels, editorial and fanzine projects as well as collaborations with different artists and collectives. The overall aim of Todojunto is to enliven the cultural activity of the borough while at the same time offering the city a meeting point that facilitates the exchange of knowledge and reflections surrounding contemporary culture and reality.’

For me it was an inviting, open space. Not a new concept, but new realization with how the world of design is integrating. The cross over/mix of design mediums, ie: music with motion graphics/photography with sound/in general, hand crafted with technology, means that there is now a need for spaces to display, invite, inspire, this movement. If i look into my crystal ball I see there will be plenty more spaces developing like Todojunto, its design evolution.

If you look on to their website you can find more ‘Spaces’ in BCN. Check out the current exhibition (originally hung, paper prints stuck at top with long strip of masking tape!, looked great!) by Julio Dolbeth and Ruio…great blogs! nice skull Snow White drawing!

An an i-am favourite was the hand drawn signage found in Todojunto. Reminded us of the brand Howies and their store in Carnaby St. London

THE QUIET REVOLUTION OF INTERACTIVE DESIGN


Design among many things is how we interact with the world. My definition of interactive design is that we are able to use our ever increasing digital products (to name a few, computers, ATM’s, mobile phones) with more ease even gain a satisfying experience of it! Experience is the key and future word here! Experience is core to i-am ethos of branding.

For instance what with more people working from home, our home space becomes also our office space. We have to be more and more flexible in what we allow space to become and the products we furnish our spaces with. Designers, therefore have to be more flexible, too. See above; Koulis, book shelves/ Bloomframe retracting balcony/ Aurea, HD flat tv screen by Philips/ i-am favourite ‘Rose on the Wall’, LED wallpaper, by ingo maurer (ahhh! gorgeous work!) colour and brightness can be adjusted and programed according to taste/ and Surface Microsoft interactive touch screen digital interface….this is so neat!!! (thats my yank accent coming out there, you’ll understand when you watch the promos on the weblink)

Designers have more of a challenge to get users to interact efficiently with products. The relationship between digital and traditional pieces of furniture is a future consideration and interesting crossing over of interaction. People are by nature interactive, brands have become more sensitive, by that I mean interaction in humans is an emotion and to stir an emotion our senses must be awakened, aroused, touched and to do this you have to be sensitive to your target market. Brands have become more savvy and realize how vital their interaction can be with their customers.

10 ways is a clever interactive project and brand marketing move from Getty Images. Collaborating with interactive designers, they have complied a creative, refreshing…but most importantly interactive concept. i-am recommends you take a look at Number 4/SPACE/ by barbarian group (their blog is informative, honest, and observant across all mediums of art). Also Number 9/TIME, by great works, recent winners of the Cannes Lions Advertising gold for their Absolute campaign, ‘in an Absolute world would machines be creative?’