Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Alcoholic Architecture

Last night we took a little trip to Bompas & Parr’s Alcoholic Architecture (Purely for research purposes, of course). This monastic bar in Borough Market features a delectable walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail air, designed to explode the humble cocktail to an architectural scale.

Upon arrival, a rather sombre host greets you, and you descend the staircase, winding your way around dark corridors lined with creepy relics. At the bottom, you are asked to don an incredibly fetching poncho, and make your way to the bar.

If you’re like us, you’ll skip the bar first and walk into the alcoholic cloud. Because who needs a cocktail when you can go hands free? Our cloud of choice for the evening was a G&T infused smog. After a couple of minutes trying to work out where you are in the room, you might notice that your entire body is covered in a light sticky concoction, which, as the night goes on, you will discover is rather tasty.

The cloud itself was entirely composed of gin and tonic (1:3) and blasted into our breathing hole using powerful humidifiers. The alcohol entered our bloodstream through our lungs and eyeballs. If you were wondering whether or not it's possible to sing in a such a thick and sticky cocktail smog, yes you can – but your beautiful choral hymn will be somewhat muted.

When you finally get to the bar, you’ll discover a drinks lists entirely comprised of spirits and beers created by monks: potations such as Chartreuse, Benedictine, Trappist beer and even the notorious Buckfast – a fortified wine so savage that Scotland’s parliament is reportedly drafting legislation to stop the caffeinated intoxicant from entering their country. However, if you were expecting your drink to be served in an incredible monkified receptacle, think again. Would you be able to resist pilfering a horn of plenty in a bar where you can barely even see your own knees? Didn’t think so.

Was it a truly religious experience? Not really. Was it fun parading about in a rain poncho in a small room breathing in your own weight in G&T? Absolutely. 

Amen Bompas and Parr.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Someone has to pay pay pay pay -!

Andrew Roberts, Managing Partner

It is an unarguable point that music streaming is the future, according to the BPI, Britons streamed 14.8bn tracks last year up 100% on 2013, driven mostly by improved internet connectivity and pervasive use of mobile. The flip side to this was that the majority was no paid for, indeed out of 60m subscribers to Spotify only 15m paid for it.

As Jay Z rightly pointed out at the launch of Tidal “People are not respecting the music, …(they) feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water,” so sorry Taylor your supposed trailblazing won’t change this attitude, the industry needs to think differently.

The fundamental problem is that the cap on spend on streaming services is £10-20 per month as opposed to the unlimited nature of the CD / download market and the industry model isn’t currently predicated on this constantly declining income. This is where the next evolution will lie.

The future is value added services, or as marketers would call it, a ‘product’ based offering. This means artists offering packaged content such as video(s), images, lyrics, user reviews, interviews, acoustic sets etc. indeed as most of this stuff is already created by labels to launch an album/artist this is not ‘new’ it is just taking a different perspective.

Oh…wait a minute isn’t that You Tube ? and that is free isn't it ? for now!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

F*CK PHOTOSHOP - OFFF Design Festival 2015

By Sam Del Prete - Senior Designer

Last week I was lucky enough to go to OFFF, a Design Festival in Barcelona, for the chance to listen to a host of inspiring speakers and see their amazing work.
Sunny Barcelona or rainy England? It wasn’t a difficult choice.
For me personally, it was like kick starting the engine all over again. A real inspiration overload. The main takeout from the trip though, was that designers, 3D artists, illustrators, writers, film guys - you name it - are no different to you and I.
We all start on the same playing field with pen and paper. A lot of us use the same tools but it’s our thinking that makes us unique. “Design is a mental illness” as one speaker said.
Another theme that came up again and again was the need to experiment and create self initiated work because “what we know gets in the way of what could be”. It’s easy to try something new and follow instructions but we will only ever end up with the end product intended for us.
We follow step-by-step instructions on how to build a robot, follow a design tutorial or write code for a project. Rather than seeing something being born, we simply see it break if we don’t follow it as intended.
To get away from this repetitive process, we need to step out of our comfort zone and into the unknown. We simply need to challenge ourselves. Children are yet to be held back by these boundaries and are rapidly developing their skills and exploring the unknown world. I have yet to see a child scared by technology as the older generation is.
The new generation of kids haven’t been caged in by the processes that I have become accustomed to over the years. Watch a child interact with a new toy, they won’t even look at manual. They will find other ways to use it.

So what can we take from this? If we allow time to reinvent ourselves and our work our creative output will tenfold making us much happier and a more beautiful world to live in. Because after all, there are no short cuts when it comes to brilliant ideas.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A story of love, loss and a brighter future for wearable tech

By Andrew Roberts (first published in The Drum)
Apparently men have seven phases of falling in love – from the initial appreciation to absolute infatuation, conviction and then finally reaffirmation – I can honestly say as a married man, and with my wife’s consent, I recently experienced all of these with a new partner. Sadly the affair has recently ended and I am and now busy looking for a new mate.
I first met my new partner in February of last year in New York whilst on a weekend break with my wife – I had been looking at different models and ‘appreciating’ (phase one) the form from afar, there is a lot of choice – different colours, sizes, attributes and varieties. I settled on the Jawbone UP24 in Black (or Onyx as they grandly called it) and a love affair started.
I was ‘infatuated’ (phase two) within a few hours – the sleek, lightweight design, the intuitive IOS interface, the wireless connectivity and of course the data – how I loved the data! I was smitten and obsessed all at once. By the end of the weekend I had already progressed to phase three –‘attraction’ – I was hooked. I found myself constantly checking my progress, walking up stairs wherever I could, spurning public transport in favour of exercise and analyzing the data at the end of every day to see if I had hit my goal of 10k steps and every morning to see how I slept.
Back in the UK the love affair continued and I made every effort to ‘impress’ (phase four) my new partner; I cycled to work three times a week (500 calories - approx. 4k steps) – I walked to meetings and even went to bed when it told me to (11.35pm). 
As time went on the partnership felt entirely natural and I developed a ‘conviction’ (phase five) that it was the right partner for me. I introduced it to my other friend, my favourite cycling app, Strava, and they immediately ‘synched’ up. I started sharing my deepest secrets; my weight, the food I was eating and in return it shared back – the trends in my progress, how I was doing against other similar partners and when it started to suggest I exercise more, I complied implicitly.
As in relationships there were some challenges – especially when I managed to mistakenly fully submerse my new friend on a summer holiday. But despite considering it carefully, I didn’t start looking for another partner, but instead had a replacement model sent. it seemed that ‘reaffirmation’ (stage six) had taken place and I was truly ‘ready to love’ (stage seven).
This isn’t however a love story with a happy ending. Despite caring for each other, eventually the light went out in our relationship (quite literally in my partner’s case) I tried to get my partner (mark three) back but it seems there are no replacements available and I now find myself alone looking for an alternative.
So what will I be looking for? How can I use my experience to hone my search for the perfect replacement?
Firstly it has to be beautiful – the UP24 was the best looking of the wearables at the time, but why can’t the technology fit with my life / existing choices? – Tag Heur are developing the technology into their watches which is great progress and I can see lots of Facebook lusting for the Apple watch.
It also has to be seamless with everday life. I recently saw a lot of new developments in wearable clothing at SXSW including-AiQ Clothing, Hexoskin and OMsignal. Efficiency is now implied in new technology – the UP24 has a seven day battery, but why can’t this include a rechargeable battery that can be action powered and feed off the very reason for its use (or maybe powered by body heat?)
It needs to be unbreakable – if it is going to track my life movements it needs to be waterproof, shockproof and if it does go wrong immediately replaceable. I want it personalised – it needs to fit with my own requirements whether that be the look or more practical elements. Just look at Cuff or Misfit’s recent work integrating with jewellery. It needs to add value – most tech companies rely on bringing out the next iteration to tempt you to upgrade – I want mine to be updateable and to add more services – I am even willing to pay a premium for enhanced or updated services.
Lastly it needs to be sentient – if I wake after a broken nights sleep feeling dreadful I don’t want to be told I only had 4 hours I want to know why. Did I go to bed too late or drink too much? Did I not exercise enough or eat the wrong things? And if so how can I change my lifestyle to address this?
So now I have my list of requirements for my next partner, I will be taking the plunge very soon and choosing my next life partner – hopefully this one will again help me embrace the huge benefit that wearables can bring to your life and well being, to help me become fitter, healthier and more aware of the cause and effect of my actions. Let’s just hope this love affair has a stronger foundation and more longevity!
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Show, Don't Tell at OFFF15

A UK agency perspective on the Spanish Creative Festival held this weekend in Barcelona.

Bright man, my grandfather.

He taught me a lot of things when I was younger, such as always wear good shoes.

Or "Boys speak, men act".

When IBM moved away from being a producer of PCs to a technology logistics provider, they ran an advertising campaign saying they don't just talk about innovation - they actually do it.

I worked on this campaign at Ogilvy, called 'Stop talking, Start doing'.

And one of the problems I have with the communications industry, particularly in the UK is that it's just too keen to jump on modern buzzwords.

And by extension, it's a problem I have with many of the marketing and advertising events around at the moment.

Every agency will get up and talk about innovation, content, new technology.

But few do anything real in those areas in their day-to-day business.

So, when I have my own dime to spend, the only conference I go to is OFFF in Barcelona.

It's not that well known in the UK. But this year marked its 15th anniversary, having grown from an online Flash film festival (hence the name) to a major design event in the centre of Barcelona.

What marks it out for me is that it has a really humble nature to it.

There's no VIP areas.

Speakers mingle freely with the attendees. They chat to us, share a drink with us. They're happy to talk about the work that drives them.

The talks are not endless slides of marketing rhetoric and tweetable sound bites.

They are project break-downs and open, honest presentations about the creation of exceptional work.

Also notable is the nature of collaboration.

The various speakers love to work with each other. Many having met at OFFF in previous years and gone on to create work together.

Even the larger, louder characters such as Gmunk or Snask who present in an almost comedic manner are happy and open to chat in person.

I got to spend time with legendary designer Stefan Sagmeister.

Joshua Davis showed me how he created his latest work on his laptop. Helping me, as an enthusiast user of coding platform Processing, to understand his approach.

It all feels like a passionate community creating great work for big brands.

The festival's founder - Hector Ayuso embodies this attitude.

He's a quiet man. He says little, even when taking the stage to open or close the event.

He lets the event itself do the talking.

It reminded me of one my guiding principles for creativity - the filmic mantra of 'Show don't tell'.

It applies to screenwriting and directing as much as to modern branding.

The idea that either a brand or a person should allow their actions to make the point. Rather than overtly explaining themselves.

The work that we saw at OFFF this year was as inspiring as it always is.

But over and above this, a way of behaving - both as a creative individual and as a creative business - is actually the key out-take for me.

Just do the work in an open, friendly manner. Collaborate. Get stuck in and enjoy yourself.

Then let the work speak for you, your agency and your client.

My grandfather would be proud.


Martyn Gooding is Creative Director for Gravity Thinking.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gravity @ OFFF15 - Day 2

The Gravity design team are at the OFFF festival in Barcelona this weekend.


When renowned director Gmunk flashed up an image of two monkeys in a NSFW act - the theme was set going in to day two.

'If you wait for work to come to you, you're the money on the right'

'You're just sucking up what someone else is giving you'.

Fortunately the speakers on day two made the same point in more palatable way.

Experimentation and personal work are not an indulgence - they are an essential part of business development.

Jodi Terwilliger, Creative Director of Hush Studios in Boston oversaw the biggest change that an agency can go through.

They moved from a motion graphics studio to an experience agency with architects in their teams.

He did it by drawing a pie chart.

It had two slices. What we know and what we don't know.

He wanted to do work in 'what we don't know' bit.

Because that's the part that keeps creativity curious.

But from a business perspective it opens up lots more opportunities.

All the speakers said largely the same thing. New business is all about trying things on small projects or in personal work.

And new clients see what you are doing and come to you for it.

Be the monkey on the left.
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gravity at OFFF15 - Day one

The Gravity design team are at the OFFF festival in Barcelona this weekend.

OFFF turns 15 this year and has grown into an international destination for creative studios, having started out as a small design festival in 2000.


One day into OFFF and there's a clear sense of optimism in the air.

It may well be the Spanish sun, or indeed the local culture which is a dramatic contrast to that of London -  being much more relaxed and creatively-driven.

But very much optimism and dare I say playful joy in the work on show.

The theme is about a coming of age. OFFF turns 15 this year and still feels personal to its founder Hector Ayuso despite its size.

Hector always was a quiet man. He takes the stage with a humble honesty, thanking us all over and over with no real acknowledgement of the task he has arranging the festival each year.

The theme of being fifteen is a literal one for the festival's various, beautifully crafted, guides and apparel. Their group of students - the Atelier - taking three fifteen year olds as their muses for the films and photos that feature throughout.

But it's a more metaphorical theme that plays out in the talks taking place.

I have always visited the festival as a kind of annual retreat that leaves me equally inspired and frustrated.

Frustrated with a deep inner need to be more prolific in my personal work and more experimental in my professional work.

Optimism is the driving force in almost all of the speakers so far.

They understand the shear joy in creativity.

And the luck of being able to do this for a living.

Day one speaker - Julien Vallee - spoke of a frustration in professional design studios of operating as if they had their foot always half on the brake. Often by pre-empting client dismissals and budget concerns.

Whereas creativity is about boundless momentum. About play and experimentation. About getting stuck in and getting it done.

And these are studios who count Sony, Kia and Samsung amongst their clients. The work is not niche and is accountable to large corporations.

Adobe offered some interested data, gleaned from its social portfolio service Behance.

They believed that successful studios had a similar model, one that had both dreamers and incrementalists. The one's who see the future and then those who create it.

The dreamers needed to be free of restraint and inhibition. They needed to be playful.

OFFF is 'Finally F*cking Fifteen' in its own words and is in every way a mature festival now - but my outtake is to balance being grown up whilst still playing like a child.

Like a fifteen year old, one might say.
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jessie @ - Digital Shoreditch...................................

By: Jessie Frahm

Hi digital people,

As a Digital Project Manager here at Gravity Thinking I was one of the lucky ones who got to attend last week’s Digital Shoreditch festival to explore some of the latest market trends within creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of the UK, Europe and beyond.

All pumped on sunshine, coffee and a chocolate muffin I went to the following events. Here are the key insights from the talks I went to.

  “Can Wearables give you Wings?
 Speaker: Carlos Thomas | Audiowings // Founder | @carlosdajackal   
Ever since the first human walked on Earth, we as a species have been fascinated about the world that seems beyond reach for human capabilities. We explore what seems impossible and this is the root of the “I want to become a Super Hero” syndrome!

“Who here has a Smart Watch?” In a room of 40 people, 3 raises their hands. Why did this highly anticipated item fail to appeal to so many? We have all watched films such as I Robot and The Terminator; the idea of machines interfering with, and taking over our lives is not an appealing thought, but this might never the less be the feeling a smart watch provokes.

Web 3.0 - the “Internet of Things”, however, goes far beyond a smart watch, and wearables should be re-defined as technology solutions, used to boost our emotions and human experiences in the real world. Earphones are a brilliant example of this, as it is a wearable technology used to create beyond sound experience layover to the real world.

In our search for unreal experiences to be real, we are lead online where each of us can explore and develop our own pseudo reality in a variety of communities. This allows us to create a reality in the in the digital world where we can be exactly that superhero we previously could only dream about…..

Research found however, that the average person spends more time online in their virtual worlds than they do sleeping. If this is true I’ll be tempted to ask – what really is reality?

Designing experiences for sound; the next great challenge coming our way
George Webster | Critical mass // Director of Content Strategy | @georgew1971
One of the things we will see an increased focus on in the coming year is the focus on sound. Audio is a previously untapped aspect to being digital and an app such as Yappie, which is a mobile social network counterpart to Instagram allows its users to record up to 60 sec of sound testify its growing rise.  

"The sound of a bicycle bell ringing."

Listen and you will visualise this in a split second. The London Boris bikes send you off with a smile on your face, and manage to utilise the emotions people naturally connect to this sound.

Sound is a powerful tool. Have a look at UNMAS “Sweeper” app project, which uses sound as its core and thereby creates a powerful awareness campaign around the danger of landmines.

UNMAS "Sweeper"

But what if we managed to take the use of sound even further, and virtualise its ability to connect sound to other senses, such as taste and smell?
Could the next big thing be Starbucks personalized coffee tracks?
The sound of the Trombone is proved to be related to bitter taste but what would you imagine being on your playlist for the taste of coffee, wine or vanilla ice cream?

Superfans and Power users: the future of audience engagement 
Juliana Meyer | SupaPass // CEO and Founder | @julianameyer        
Superfans are key to every start-up – they are there when you are up and coming and they are there in times where your business faces the challenges of being yesterday’s news.  In this 30 minute speech the audience were taken through the below 12 points, which focus on winning and nurturing your Superfans.

  1. Make it awesome: Yes, you need an awesome and relevant product that people cannot live without. 
  2. Start small: Be prepared to start small and win one fan at a time, they all need to feel special.
  3. Identity: Superfans are like tribes and you need to add to their tribe. Take a look at “Beleibers” (Justin Bieber fans) “Directioners” (One Direction fans) and “Little Monsters” (Lady Gaga fans) and you get the point. 
  4.  Make them feel important: Show your Superfans that they matter, trust them and ask them questions, at the end of the day, they probably know your product and their needs better than yourself.
  5. Community: people need to feel that they belong to somewhere, this is why you create the tribe. 
  6. Be first in line: People want to be first.
  7. Reward: Lady Gaga went viral when she invited Maria Aragon to sing with her on stage; consider how you reward your Superfans. 
  8. FOMO, “Fear of missing out”: people are willing to wait days in front of Apple Stores to become first owners of the newest Iphone. 
  9. Incentivise your product: Be creative and create competitions for your fans that make them talk about you. Games (Gamification) are proven to be an efficient tool.
  10. Listen: Superfans are smart, they know all about your product so utilize that.
  11. Never forget: Don’t forget your Superfans, they will be there until the end. 
  12. The product: Yes this is point 1. Superfans come back for more, so be sure to give them what they want.

Why beacons matter? And what it means for your sector?
Ege Akpinar | Pointr // Founder & CEO | @egeakpinar                                                                           

For those of you who don’t know it, Beacons are a device designed to navigate around specific locations. So why do we need Beacons when we have Google maps? The short answer to this is that beacons work indoor and are incredibly precise, cheap and adaptable to all sorts of projects.
Using beacons gives you the ability to collect data surrounding people’s behaviour,for instance what is their preferred route, where do they spend time and what do they search for?

Beacons are agile and up to date, have been used to track people working under ground in mines, follow people’s behaviour at big locations. In near future beacons will be developed to interact with a task specific app which help people navigate in a big stadium, helping them to find their seat, toilets and the bar area, for example.

The Louvre currently uses beacons to capture visitors and created itinerates with suggested navigation to maximize space. Bigger airports are developing apps where people can get exact details on how to find their gate and how much time it will take them to get there. This is very useful considering that 20% of the revenue from an airport comes from the duty-free area, it is worth keeping people there as long as possible. 

Another cool example of the use for beacons is in hospitals where beacons have been used to find expensive lost items by tracking them around the building.

On the advertising side, Nivea created a Bluetooth tag to put on kids while going to the beach so they wouldn’t get lost from their parents. 

Beacons are evidently an important development and it is probably just a matter of time before we see even more creative apps developed based on the usefulness of these cheap navigation points.