Milan Design Week is traditionally full of interesting and fascinating collaboration’s and experiments. My own experience of this was back in 2002. While still at Central Saint Martins, I got to experience ‘Grand Hotel Salone’, a hotel concept pairing famous architects’ with cities to re-imagine the future of the hotel experience. It was pretty full on; a lavish affair all round.

In 2013, as with everywhere else, digital creativity and innovation is at the heart of some of the experiments that help fuel the fair. Heineken, while not noted as a designer of furniture, launched a rather fascinating interactive concept for the future of the humble bottle.

In collaboration with Tribal DDB, they have launched ‘Ignite’. While not world’s first interactive bottle, (See Work Club x Strongbow’s RFID controlled bottle) Heineken’s version uses micro sensors and wireless networking technology to sense motion and lights up in response to sound and vision accordingly, or cued to respond to specific songs, or visual stimuli.

There’s a few things that pique my interest around this project. Firstly, I love the insights behind Ignite. How it takes possibly the most mundane experience of being in a bar or club, the (holding of) a bottle of beer and imbues it with energy and life that is in perfect sync with the club. It has the potential to turn the dormant bottle strewn in the corners of clubs into equally compelling spaces to interact with the music. It’s smart from Heineken’s perspective as if it works, the value of having the brand in your club rises exponentially.

I love how it stays true to one of the most relevant ideas knocking around the marketing-sphere at the moment. I’ve been particularly taken with a line that Russell Davies of the GDS (That’s Government Digital Service to you non-Brits) used when describing how the collective team arrived at some of their decisions for gov.uk (the recent UK ‘Design Of The Year’)

“The product is the service is the marketing”

The holistic relationship between these elements has not been summed up better IMHO. It’s so blazingly obvious, yet frustratingly and frequently elusive. It’s a line that opens up ample opportunities for new thinking around creating valuable experiences for Brands. It puts the infinite bandwidth of digital creativity right at it’s center. While I’m sure the mobile and innovation units at Tribal DDB (there’s a great blogpost on their process here) did not necessarily have this line in mind when they were concepting the idea, it’s sentiment lies at the heart of what makes this a great project. Yes, it’s an experiment, and an expensive one at that. But  you would like to think that even if just a sliver of of Heineken’s marketing budget was directed away from fatous endeavours like this (sorry W+K AMS) to developing and rolling out this idea en masse then many more people would be compelled to ‘Open Your World’ than currently do.

It’s worth thinking about.

(P.S. Let’s not talk about the awful Brostep soundtrack in the video above…)

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Nike seems to be on a roll at the moment. Beyond their usual epic TV and print campaigns, we are seeing some gorgeous stuff being produced further down the food chain. The (re)launch of 1948 London, with the fabulous iPad app and website to go along with the Shoreditch space, has created a real buzz around London again. This hyper-detailed account of the making of the awesome Nike Better World website shows off Nike’s commitment to innovation in whatever medium going.

But, while we marvel at these pieces of creative execution, it’s easy to forget just where all this innovation stems from. The shoes. It seems to be that there is a rather interesting innovation unit buried deep within the Beaverton headquarters, called, aptly, ‘The Kitchen’ (Official title: Nike Sports Research Lab)

Helpfully, The Kitchen has decided to show off a little bit of it’s wares. Channeling ‘Tales From The Crypt’, A psychedelic smorgasboard similar to ‘The Electric Company’ (with a soundtrack lifted straight from Henry Mancini’s The Pink Panther). Tales From The Kitchen tells the story of Nike Hyperfuse. And what a story it is. This is such a fabulous piece of work, because not only does it show you what makes the Nike creative process tick, but also shows how great creativity happens, testing, tweaking, exploring, digging. The animation in all it’s psychedelic glory, cuts away the marketing fluff, and shows just why Nike is always at the forefront of Innovation.

I like. More please.


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Excellent use of reclaimed devices to create new media platforms. Sort of tech meets visual art. And pretty damn cool with it. As ever with these sort of things MIT has it’s smart little mits on this one…

(Via Michael Leibowitz)

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(Photos via National Geographic)

Out of all the Pixar films, UP, in my opinion is the best. Helped in no small part to the central role the floating house plays in the film. It was also one of the things that stayed in your mind. Could a house float away like that in reality.

Luckily, National Geographic (as part of it’s “How Hard Can It Be?” series) must have had the same thought when they saw it, as they decided to try it, in real life. The results are to say the least magical. Cneck out the photos and trailer (below)

(Via Polly Wedderburn)

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Image from thekingmob flickr page

An interesting little film from the BBC, profiling The Classic Album Club. Based in London, and run by Colleen Murphy, the club has a simple premise: A room, a record player, a group of people and an uninterrupted listen to a classic album of choice. (The film features Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Ugh.).

So beyond the lame choie of album, (and the obvious chin stroking muso cliches a venture like this inspires) what’s interesting is the return to analogue. The record is heard all the way through, via a record player, and crucially, in the silence. This respect for the work, the quiet contemplation that the environment demands, and just the ability to listen all the way through, no skipping or flipping, is increasingly an relic. It’s not to say that it doesn’t happen, but environments like this you sense will play increasingly important roles in not only keeping classic works alive, but also in the lack of distractions. I can imagine someone tweeting, facebooking and texting through this would be shunned very quickly, and rightly so.

I’m still trying to find a web-link to find out when the next one is. (Do check out the long article here.) But, in the spirit of this club, maybe it’s just easier to set one up yourself. I’ve already got the first album in my head. Anybody with me?

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Like your furniture customisable? Well, you’ll really like this then from Chairman Ting for Tangible Interactions. The cubes come in two types, plain, or the special edition ones above. It is a simple idea, but, with a little bit of imagination, could be a great bit of fun and super cool. Check out the video of Chairman Ting in action below…

Available here.

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