Posts Tagged as: ‘PACE OF DESIGN’

21.05.2009
03:19

After a lovely weekend in Hong Kong and visiting an island outside of the city, we spent our second day at the studio of Michael Young. Michael himself would describe his studio as a place of a different timezone in comparison to the city outside and it certainly is. It is peaceful and quiet here, although the quietness last friday and this monday might have been the consequence of a party art fair weekend …  However, when you leave the hot and humid city and climb the stairs, better take the elevator into the 11th floor and arrive at the bright white corridor, you are in a different place. img_2570

And even so you will read England in big silver letters, you are most certainly not in good old Europe. A place inbetween and at the same time so connected to Asia, a studio with around 8 people including the interns, speaking English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese or Swedish. A place ful of respect and clear rules to protect the creativness of it, like the one rule - no business meeting before 2.30.

entrance door to Michael Youngs studio

entrance door to Michael Youngs studio

In almost all the studios we visited so far, the mutual respect of the people working there, as much as the personality of the main designers, both have an impact on the way of working and the special spirit of the studio. So maybe one could describe the spirit at the Campanas colorful, maybe it was more serious at Konstantins, maybe it was “the most laid back studio in Hong Kong” (MY) but the loyalty and dedication was special in all of these places. Maybe, because of a different setting and a little different way of working it was more corporate at Haldanes or at Adityas place. It certainly had a pragmatic team oriented democratic feeling at Lunars.

As mentioned above Michael Youngs studio here in Hong Kong is said to be very relaxed in comparison to others around, very laid back and yet there is this special energy of Michael himself, his dynamics and way of approaching things, in my opinion much more wary than one would think at the first impression. What is interesting, at least that is my impression, the more personal and respectful the relations in the studio get, which includes trust and a certain freedom in having ones own speed in developing a project, the more loyal and devoted the input of each of the team becomes. Michael Youngs studio was a good example of that, a very well organized working place,  fueled by him, his energy, his creativity and at the same time doesn’t seem to need him to funktion just as well.

Prada watching us leave Michael Youngs studio

Prada watching us leave Michael Youngs studio

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But of course we found some stereotypes of Hong Kong China as well, adjectives like efficient, fast, energetic, industrial - words used by Andrew one of the industrial designers at MY, born and raised in Hong Kong, to describe this city and it’s working ethic. He confirmed, that Michael Youngs studio is very special, relaxed, so you do have full concentrated days, but unlike other places, you dont work too much overtime, which is normal in Hong Kong - and not healthy as he would add. If you consider the output of this studio, then it seems like working overtime is no guarantee for the qualitity and amount of work to get done.

After leaving Hong Kong, as swift and easy as arriving, we flew to Tokyo. Even so we found our way into the city, the right neighbourhod and hotel al right, things are much more confusing than Hong Kong. What a crazy contrast, if we reflect on the last ten days, almost two weeks now - Delhi, flat, hot, humid, dirty, intense and still wonderful, the moment you get used to all the crazyness; Hong Kong, dense, steep hills, packed, less dirty, good to get out, no green, english language, well organized, no fan of chinese food, but still in awe of the density architecture wise; and now Tokyo, endless in size, abrupt changes in scale, flower pots everywere, wonderful little gardens, amazing parks, no english, difficulties to buy a metro ticket, friendly helpful patient people, very clean, refined, wonderful food, so many people!

Tokyo, view from Mori Tower

Tokyo, view from Mori Tower

view from Mori Tower again

view from Mori Tower again

Yesterday we almost went nuts while trying to find the right exit of Shibuya Station - I swear, that everytime we came over ground it looked exactly the same, a bus station, some high buildings, endless flashing advertisement on the buldings…

Shibuya

Shibuya

Today we are going to meet our last designer of this trip and project, Ichiro Iwasaki at the university he is teaching at. Tomorrow we will go to his studio and hopefully spent more time there than planned so far.

A personal experience while constantly moving through different time zones and this time only going east: on every flight farther east we lost time, many hours, a couple of hours, ine hour, had to preset our watches, but the feeling became certaine, that it is impossible to catch up with the lost hours. They are lost forwever and your body has a very hard time overcoming that loss. Actually, in each new city we want to sleep even longer, in a senseless hope or search of regaining time.


15.05.2009
14:50

Yesterday we arrived in Hong Kong. Our most amazing experience after Delhi, but actually after all the other cities we had visited so far, was the smooth and perfect ride into the city. From the moment we left the airplane to the moment we arrived in our hotel room, probably none of us never experienced such a well organised system of connecting transport media. In no time we arrived in the middle of this exciting city, and after another second (so it felt after Delhi) we were standing in the 30th floor of the hotel, in amazement of the view, speechless. Needless to say, this city feels cool after Delhi.

view of hotel room

view of hotel room

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After a good rest, we went out to see the installation and opening of Michael Youngs at the Pawn, a beautiful piece of industrial art, as he would put it. A wonderful precise extrusion piece of aluminum, with two perfectly controlled bents, one element growing exuberantly.

installation of Michael Young, at the pawn

the Link installation of Michael Young, at the Pawn in Hong Kong

Michael enjoying the evening

Michael enjoying the evening

I will write more about our first day at the studio of Michael’s later, which was fun and interesting, but need some time to reflect and even more time to be able to converse my thoughts on this city, where you can walk through markets full of wonderful things, smell the intensive smell of the chinese medicine and have a dense financial high riser world at the same time. First impression: I love it. The combination of a highly organized system with a distinctive culture is fascinating. International, local, European, Asian, Chinese.

entrance to the Luen Wai Commercial Building

entrance to the Luen Wai Commercial Building

entering the building

entering the building, where Michael Youngs studio is located

And yes, this is the entrance to Michael Youngs studio in Sheung Wan. There is a surprise, when you reach the 11th floor!


13.05.2009
14:33

Actually I love Delhi, even so it took us a while to arrive here and find our way through this hot chaos, this madness, which is so special. Can you imagine a city, where the traffic is absolutely crazy, but it always moves? The centimeters between the different carriages (and there are many different kinds) freak you out at the beginning, but after a while you can’t stop but wonder, that there is always a smooth and almost elegant way of constant movement - in a city of 14 million!

Staying at cks was also a peaceful retreat, a place of safety and sanity. cks in Delhi is a team of about eleven people, including Aditya Dev Sood, founder and CEO. There is another office in Bangalore, and a newly founded one in Mumbai.

This office here is located in a rather good neighbourhood, in a residential area, the office is in the ground floor of the private house of Aditya. It has two entrances, tow different sides to one piece.

the private entrance of Dr. Sood

the private entrance of Dr. Sood

 

the official entrance of cks

the official entrance of cks

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cks is a consulting company in design research. Their clients can be mobile phone companies, who need to understand more about their future market. The three offices are based in three different areas of india very much on purpose, to be able to cover this big country in the north west and south. The main work is based on field research, but the creative work is to analyse and evaluate the data taken from the field trips and not only to come up with interesting information, but conclusions and maybe proposals of how to take the right steps and maybe develop new business ideas. The people working in field research are usually a mix of designers and ethnologists - in our special case Rahul, in charge for research and originally trained in communication design took the driver of cks with him for this short field trip.

Rahul and the driver discussing where to go

Rahul and the driver discussing where to go

We joined them to a town at the edge of Delhi, trying to “haunt” shop owners, who are willig to spend some time to talk with him about the topic of the specific research he is working on. In all the other studios we never left the office, but in this case we thought it is important to do so, to understand the way of working better. It lead us to another part of the city, very interesting, but believe me, we loved the aircondition even more.

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Rahul talking to a shop owner

Rahul talking to a shop owner

there are always curious poeple

there are always curious poeple

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Rahul, the driver of cks and Eva

Aditya Dev Sood is a highly intellectual man and it is a thrill to talk to him. His argument about the rapid and explosive changes in this country over the last two decades gave me an idea of the speed of change this place is going through. So many possibilities, so many new options. And it will be different again in ten years from now. The impact for example mobile telephones will have on the development of the country is one of the things cks has been carefully looking at in the last years.

Then again there are many more things we aboserved at cks, that make this place very different from the others, but I will need some time to reflect and present the information in the exhibition Pace of Design. 

Next stop is Hong Kong visiting Michael Young.


11.05.2009
03:50

The first of April we came back from Cape Town, the 8th and 9th of April we visited Konstantin Grcic in Munich and the 9th of May we left for Delhi, visiting cks, centre for knowledge societies amd it’s founder Aditya dev Sood. Next stops are Michael Young in Hong Kong and Ichiro Iwasaki in Tokyo.

4 hours by train from Vienna to Munich

4 hours by train from Vienna to Munich

6 hours by plane from Vienna to Delhi

6 hours by plane from Vienna to Delhi

Time is fleeting, as usual, and like we all do, I was fighting time in Vienna trying to get things done. Suddenly you are at a very different place like India, after a short trip, experiencing a very different sensation of time, a new understanding between time and heat. Delhi was incredibly hot and humid almost all day of yesterday (until a relieving thunderstorm came) around 40°C, a condition in which speed has a very different meaning. And yet again, everybody is moving, moving in an elegant slow motion, a constant motion I would rather film than take pictures of, to capture this special pace.

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar

Indian Habitat Centre

Indian Habitat Centre, the place we stayed

In Munich there was something about time and order we took with us. The fact, that a very organized city like Munich also gives you time, time to spend, but also more time to work. More time equals pressure? Difficult to say. Because at the same time all the studios I visited so far, even if the city seemed chaotic, anarchic in a way, were very organized and efficient in using time, no matter if in the USA, Brazil or South Africa. Still - organization and this heat here seem to be two contradicting matters. 

Entrance into the court from the street

To Konstantins place, entrance from the street

downstairs door

entrance to the staircase in the second court

Our visit at Konstantins Grcis’s place was a lovely experience as well, a peaceful concentrated place again, very structured and very sympathetic. A clear set up of the day sets a very controlled pace, a frame in which work is being done, has to be done and keeps people from working crazy hours.A special moment to us is the 11′o’clock tea with Brezel, everyday on the terrace, all year round.

tea time on the terrace

tea time on the terrace


31.03.2009
13:24

After traveling east again we arrived in Cape Town sunday morning but actually have never arrived! What a tired limbo state, we dont seem to get out of.

the airport of Cape Town

the airport of Cape Town

getting into the city

getting into the city

on the way to the waterfront the evening of the 29th of March

on the way to the waterfront the evening of the 29th of March

We spent the last two days in the office of Haldane Martin, a beautiful space, a former church in the area of Woodstock. 

Haldanes church

Haldanes church

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the neighbourhood in Woodstock

the neighbourhood in Woodstock

the space is also used as showroom

the space is also used as showroom

Haldane is not only a designer, but he is manager of his furniture company as well. That does change the spirit of the place in some ways, even so the Campanas produce too and their craft people work in the same building. Some of the people working for Haldane have a craft background, but might be in charge for the quality control of the furniture, that is being assembled and packed in the back of the office.

Haldane discussing with Germaine and Andy production details

Haldane discussing with Germaine and Andy production details

Once in a while people come by, like today a woman from Norway buying some pieces. The Zulu Mama Chair seems to be a best seller here in Cape Town and abroad, we have seen the chair at many places like in the airport and city. Actually according to numbers the Weightless diningchair is the best selling product. Haldane is very well known in South Africa, but is getting to get known in Europe as well, I recently tripped over his work published in a book by Gestalten, called Desire. 

left you see the Zulu Mama chair, Eva and I are working on one of Haldanes tables

left you see the Zulu Mama chair, Eva and I are working on one of Haldanes tables

What can I say about time? Since there are other things which surprise us more, like the fact, that you don’t ever seem to walk, walking is simply no good idea, even the shortest distance - at least that is our impression. The light is superb and there is a lot of wind. The cloud hovering on top of table mountain is spectacular in the morning.

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The office of Haldane consists of two worlds in a way, there is the admin staff in the front of the bulding and the workers in the back. The two places do have a different atmospheres, in speed and noise, still all people are really nice and the pace is easy and relaxed all over. People like to stop and chat with each other. They seem to chat more and have more fun, when the boss is out ;-)

Haldane pointed out, that this country has two time zones, two different rhythms and economys, first and third world in one country. Maybe that is why it is so difficult to sense a special pace, as it seems to be caught in between. But the multitude of culture and backgrounds give this place a special feeling too - actually this multitude is very well represented in Haldanes office, as you will see. It is funny to listen to the different languages and different accents, rhythms of english and other dialects.

Also we feel very welcome and the people here at Haldane’s are open and curious about what we do and why we are here, the place and even more the city of Cape Town seems very reserved. It is tempting to come up with speculations and comparisons now, but the research isn’t over yet. Next stop is the office of Konstantin Gcic in Munich the coming week.


28.03.2009
13:22

In the meantime we spent our second day at the studio of Fernando and Humberto Campana. Here are some images of our ways through the city the night of the 26th and the day of the 27th - only a fraction of what this city is about!

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From the loud and noisy city retreat back to the peaceful place in Rua Barao de Tatui.

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We arrived quite early in the morning, some people were in the office already, like Cristina the secretary and the guys of the workshop. I feel embarrassed because I can’t spell or even less pronounce their names. Humberto came around 9.00 and after taking a joint walk in the neighbourhood, we had a long conversation about time. The interview with Humberton ( later I spoke to Fernando as well) will be in the exhibition, so I wont get into details, but while writing I am just realizing, that this blog helps me to sort my thoughts. Humberto for example would talk about the importance, that each project get’s the time it need’s to develop, or Fernando would talk about the right time for certain projects. Both of them talked about chaos and efficiency in a very interesting way. They embrace chaos and still they are very organized. And they love their country, I wasn’t aware that they really want to give Brazil a new position just as much as they have this need and wonderful creativity to express themselves. They both know how much there is to discover here. Humberto suggested, that Guta should rather do an Experimenta here in Sao Paolo then in Amsterdam! I agree and would volunteer to be part of that adventure.

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Actually the studio of the Campanas is really near to a beautiful residential area with a lot of modernist buildings, so no, they are not in some kind of favelas!

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These public phones have a wonderful name which means something like little ear! And that is what they are.

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I think I was very lucky, because I met them in a very peaceful moment, working in the studio on their very own pace, with a couple of meetings in the city, but not much. Humberto was making sketches and drawings and once in a while he likes to go down to the workshop and work with his hands, while Fernando has different methods of expressing his ideas, maybe faster, only that is no category. Right now he is working on lovely collages.

After having a delicious lunch with the two, and after talking to Fernando as well, they both left for the weekend.

Eva and I stayed in the office, with became more and more quiet, people leaving one after the other - depending on when they started they left between 5.30 and 7.00 or even later. And before they left, they had a great little snack chat time downstairs. Then the big garage door downstairs was closed, the interns left, it gets dark early.

In the end it was Leo and Lelia left, when Eduardo took us to our hotel around 7.30.

What probably struck me most is, that the brothers have set up a very organized structure with great young people working for them, dedicated to them and at the same time free to work in their own pace. The brothers trust their team and I think they did a great job, because this team gives them the freedom to move in their own pace as much as they can.

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part of the team: Diogo, Leo, Lelia, Eduardo (from l to r)

The place is simple but beautiful, because everybody really cares about the studio and about each other. Sorry for sounding like a silly sentimental Hippie but that is what you walk away with!

looking out into the patio

looking out into the patio

Later we had another great evening in the city with Lelia and Leo taking us out and today we are of to Cape Town, meeting Martin Haldane.


27.03.2009
11:24

How do I sum up my visit in San Francisco? Tuesday was different from monday, so how would wednesday have been and how will friday be? Maybe I should reschedule my whole trip and always visit the studios monday and friday?  :-)
To be on the Lunar moon was special - and at the same time it was so clear, that I was in the USA. In the meantime I changed the place to be for some place  more on the southern hemisphere. After a dreadful flight with United (like with airports, luckily this is not a comment on airlines…) we arrived in Sao Paolo. Another sainted city, I realized, while writing the titel. San Francisco and Sao Paolo! There is no Heiliges Wien….

Post Street early evening of the 24th

We went straight to the office of Fernando and Humberto Campana and got happily lost there. This place, hid behind a simple garage door, ist peaceful and happy, concentrated but still relaxed.

almost the entrance

You hear birds and good music, people talking and laughing, hammering and (can’t hear it) sewing…. it is a peaceful place with a lovely court and a loving heart. The office space, built two years ago, is simple, decent even humble, I would say, but it is a great place to be. Yes, there is a upper floor and a lower floor, design/ admin and craft, but that doesn’t mean that there is any kind of evaluation between the two.

office entrance Campana brothers

You can see the entrance above, more after tomorrow  Tulga


25.03.2009
02:14

21st of March, leaving Vienna: I did travel a lot in my life, but still this trip makes me nervous. What am I going to experience? How are the design offices going to react, when we are hanging out at their work place observing what they are doing? Will we find any differences in the design-pace at the different studios around the world? Or has globalization hacked us all?

on my way to Dublin, from (ugly) Vienna airport

on my way to Dublin, from (ugly) Vienna airport

About the project:
“Pace of Design” is the title of the exhibition I am curating for ExperimentaDesign, which tries to convey the different working processes in seven different design studios around the world. How much are culture and the location itself influencing the pace of design? Is there a difference in rhythm and speed in the working processes? Are there special rituals connected to this specific culture, country, city, or just the specific design studio? When does an average day start, when does it end? Do they have lunch together? A coffee break? How formal or informal is the daily routine organized? How controlled or how free?

My attempt is to come as an outsider and try to observe as much as I can, through watching the people working, asking questions, spending two days at each place. A young Austria photographer, named Eva Engelbert, is joining me. Both of us will try to blend in and observe and absorb as much as we can. This blog is about my experiences. The outcome and our interpretation will be seen at the exhibition in September.

22nd of March,early morning start, leaving Dublin to San Francisco

good morning Eva! 22nd of March,early morning start, leaving Dublin to San Francisco

Our first trip will take us from Vienna via Dublin to San Francisco - then from there via Chicago to Sao Paolo, after that via Johannesburg to Cape Town, and via Munich back to Vienna. Later in April I will be in Munich again and in May will do Delhi, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Leaving Vienna you can see an ugly airport, only Dublin isn’t any better too. Neither is San Francisco – so if this would be a survey about airports, it wouldn’t be too exciting aesthetic wise. I met Eva at the airport in Dublin, next morning we continued our trip to San Francisco, where we visited  Lunar Design.

22nd of March

Leaving Dublin and arriving in San Francisco.

another airport waiting area / this time Dublin

another airport waiting area / this time Dublin

 

what a man

what cool guy!

 

and his ultimate boot bag!

and his ultimate boot bag!

We travelled okay and the city of San Francisco welcomed us with a pristine, sunny and crisp weather! What a lively city, beautiful architecture, steep hills and great views. Later we had a rather strange Chinese dinner in China Town, but it was fun. Went to bed very early, woke up very early as well. Actually it is strange, that I am doing a project about time and will be more or less constantly out of the local time zone, because I am either late or ahead, with the schedule of travel we chose. Two days at each place don’t give us much time to adapt, or maybe we will develop our very own pace?

leaving San Francisco airport

leaving San Francisco airport

 

San Francisco looking downtown

San Francisco looking downtown

 

San Francisco looking uphill

San Francisco looking uphill

 

San Francisco being uphill

San Francisco being uphill

San Francisco looking downhill

San Francisco looking downhill

23rd of March

9am arriving at the office of Lunar Design., which is one of the most successful industrial design consultancies in the USA, next to Ideo, Frog or Fuse maybe. All of them are based in the bay area in or around San Francisco. What is probably special about Lunar, is that they always tried to work on non client projects, next to doing great design jobs with clients like hp, Oral B, Sandisc and many more. There are about 40 to 50 people in both the offices in San Francisco and Paolo Alto, the majority based in San Francisco. They have two other offices, one in Munich, one in Hong Kong.

Entrance of Lunar Design in San Francisco

Entrance of Lunar Design in San Francisco

What struck me most about our first day, was the atmosphere of a very focused concentration at all the desks. It stayed peaceful and quiet all day, some people actually almost never left their desk and their computer. Spontaneous meetings around a desk disrupted the quietness for a moment, meetings at the kitchen are used for a brief chat. For lunch each person brings in some sandwich or such and eats it at the mutual table in the kitchen, sometimes at his desk. Nobody seems to take more time off, than it takes to eat his meal. Special meetings happen in the meeting rooms to discuss a project. One of the two founders, Jeff Smith, and the Creative Director Ken Wood came in from Paolo Alto to work on a project with the team and it was interesting to watch the very informal and relaxed way of working between the group of four. But otherwise it was a very concentrated Monday here in the office of Lunar Design.

The street in front of Lunar Design

The street in front of Lunar Design

First people came in around 8am, late arrivals around 9.30 / 10.00 maybe. Some came much later, because they had meetings outside. The studio consists of Industrial Designers, Graphic Designers, Interaction Designers plus the biggest group – the engineers. Are you interested in the relation male female? Like in all design studios traditionally heavy on the male side! Most females in graphic and Interaction, less in ID, none with the engineers, even so Lunar is paying a lot of attention to have more female employees.

this is Eva again, more awake this time

this is Eva again, more awake this time

Most of the people left between 6pm and 7pm, some stayed late until around 7.30 / 8.00.

24th of March

We started really early this time, coming to the office with the first engineer. If you are dissapointed, that I am not showing any images of the studio - well I dont want to destroy the surprise at the exhibition. Eva was very busy taking a lot of images. But before publishing we have to get back to Lunar due to confidentiallity. This office is working an exciting projects with big clients. That means we have to be very carefull.

However: our second day was interesting as well. To me it seemed more relaxed than the first day, which was monday… maybe that is the reason? More chatting, more informal meetings around work desks or in the kitchen, was my impression.

 

Dodgeball tournament

Dodgeball tournament, won by Lunar, this year organized by Fuse

Yesterday I talked to a South Korean designer, Junggi, working at Lunar for  years (?). It was interesting to listen to him and his perception of the studio - which he likes very much - and the USA, with a horizontal hierarchie (which he likes again) and the fact, that people are working 8 hours straight (and many more if necessary) but take almost no time to have lunch, like they do in Korea, also the working days are much longer usually. Sandrine, a french senior industrial designer I talked to today, said something similar, about her first shock, when she saw people eating their salads next to their computer, never taking a break, changing the surroundings, breaking the day in two halfs. Even so the afternoon might be longer in France, after lunch break. So my first two days leaves me with the impression, that the Americans are very focused and dedicated to work. More details in the exhibition, more facts to compare this impressions to, when I arrive at the studio of the Campana brothers in Sao Paolo!

Dodgeball trophy

The Dodgeball trophy!

And I promise to blog every day from now on, so nobody has to read such a long text anymore.