Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

CreativeMornings/London Interviews: Stuart Wood of rAndom International


June 2012 is a big deal for the global CreativeMornings family.

For the first time, 22 CreativeMornings chapters, in collaboration with Rhode Island School of Design, will be speaking with one voice.

The subject is one that’s close to our collective heart: the magic that occurs at the intersection of art and technology.

The CreativeMornings/London team thought long and hard about who we’d like to represent our city on the world stage and after months of frenzied research and conversation, one name kept popping up: rAndom International.

In rAndom, we found the perfect mix of the industrial and ethereal, their installations using technology to give birth to interactive experiences that are magic to behold.

That co-founders Stuart Wood and Florian Ortkrass are so adept at melding art and technology should come as no surprise. Between them, these two have had stints at serial industrial innovators like Audi, Ross Lovegrove, the BBC and Philips. They’ve also served as co-leads on the interaction design course at Ravensbourne.

It was this last point that sealed the deal for us. Part of what drives CreativeMornings is the belief that the fusion of art and technology into design has been one of the greatest drivers of progress. We can’t help but love a couple of guys who’ve helped a whole new generation of creatives get excited by the magic that happens when art and technology collide.

Read our interview with Stuart below and be sure to come along to see him (and Florian) speak at the St. Martins Lane hotel.

Stuart Wood & Florian Ortkrass will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday June 29th – sponsored by The Sanderson Hotel– at 50 Berners Street  London W1T 3NG. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.

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CreativeMornings/London Interviews: Peter Gregson

Step 1. Take one musician and have him record a track written by a composer with sensational lineage.

Step 2 Send said track out to the experimental masters of electronica and hip-hop for remixing.

Step 3. Collect results and compile.

If you think this sounds like a recipe for some avant-pop single, we’d forgive you.

In reality, this is a glimpse into the creative process behind the latest work of our next CreativeMornings/London speaker, classical contemporary cellist Peter Gregson.

Apart from his collaboration with Gabriel Prokofiev, titled Cello Multitrack, Gregson has also worked with some of the greats of the classical contemporary music scene, including Max Richter, Howard Goodall and  Steve Reich.

And in the last two years he’s performed at SXSW, XOYO and MIT and TEDx Alcatraz (where he forms part of the house band).

Need we say more.

Performing -and speaking- at CreativeMornings/London in the intimate Sanderson Billiard Room, this ain’t gonna be your average cello recital.

Read our interview below and make sure to set a reminder for 10:55 on Monday, May 21st.

Well, you wouldn’t want to miss out, would you?

Peter Gregson will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday May 25th -sponsored by The Sanderson– at at the Billiard Room at The Sanderson Hotel at 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.

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CreativeMonings/London Interviews: Jonty Sharples


Jonty describes himself as a country-living gastrophile with a penchant for all things egg.

Our CreativeMornings/London April speaker also revels in understanding the murky area between designers’ confidence and arrogance.

Currently UX Design Director at Albion and previously with Tobias & Tobias, Jonty has over 12 years experience in branding, user experience design, and look & feel across all digital channels.

Having chaired panels at SXSW and appeared for our mates at LDNIA, we’re super excited to be welcoming him to the CreativeMornings/London family.

Our usual interview is -you guessed it- beyond the jump.

Jonty Sharples will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday April 27th -sponsored by Forward and Sense Worldwide– at the Forward at Floor 2, Centro 4, 20 Mandela St, Camden, NW1 0DU. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.

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CreativeMornings/London Interviews: Alice Taylor of MakieLab

Not Alice Taylor, but one of her dolls

Alice Taylor founded Makielab, a new toys and games company based in Shoreditch, London, in February 2011. Within their magic lab, they’re making a new kind of future-smashing toy: customisable, 3D-printed, locally made, and game-enabled.

This latest adventure came after nearly four years commissioning games, apps and web TV shows for Channel 4 Education.

Previous to Channel 4 Alice was VP Digital for BBC Worldwide (LA), and previous to that, the brains behind another start up producing Java entertainment software – avatars, forums, chat apps.

Alice is an avid gamer, an innovator and an admirer of the indie spirit, most apparent in indie games and web development. Alice blogs at Wonderlandblog, and her personal tweets are at @wonderlandblog.

Our usual interview is beyond the jump.

Alice Taylor will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday March 23rd -sponsored by The Sanderson Hotel and Sense Worldwide– at the Billiard Room at The Sanderson Hotel at 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.

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CreativeMornings/London Interviews: Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter; art dealer, design critic, car lover, collector and commissioner of culture. His various professional and personal activities give him a unique perspective on design, art and, of course, design as art.

First coming to our attention during a panel discussion on the future of the automotive designer (Kenny thinks the increasing impracticality of cars will see them elevated to objects of cultural desire), there’s little doubt that Kenny’ll provide a provocative perspective on the practical, cultural and economic value of design.

Our usual interview is beyond the jump.

Kenny Schachter will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday February 24th -sponsored by Forward and Sense Worldwide– at Floor 2, Centro 4, 20 Mandela St, Camden, NW1 0DU. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.

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Cars, chic(k)s and camp: Prada’s SS12 campaign.

I’ll admit it.

I let out a squeal of delight when I first watched this.

And I’ve squealed with each subsequent viewing.

This spot is auto-cultural Mixmastery at it’s absolute chicest.

I know, I know. It’s a fashion ad.

But my world feels a little bit richer for watching it.

And that’s a very good thing.

Please, watch fullscreen at fullvolume for fulleffect.

Why Tina started CreativeMornings (and why I brought them to London)


Recently CreativeMornings founder Tina Roth-Eisenberg a.k.a SwissMiss went to see a talk at the Atlanta chapter.

While she was there she was interviewed by Ron Dawson of Dare Dreamer magazine for the video above.

It’s such a neat encapsulation of what attracted me to CreativeMornings and why I was so desperate to bring it to London way back in 2010.

Hat tip to Tina and Ron

CreativeMornings/London Interviews: David Barrie

After a CreativeMornings Christmas/New Year break, it gives me enormous pleasure to introduce our first speaker for 2012, David Barrie.

In an era where we’re exhorted to be more active in our communities but struggle -perhaps through lack of practice, perhaps due to a lack of suitable infrastructure- David’s been building the platforms and imparting the knowledge to bring communities back together.

His passionate drive for participative urban regeneration has seen projects launched all over the country, successfully harnessing the latent creativity and capability of citizens to bring about positive change.

With a continued focus on how the creative sector can make a positive contribution to broader society, something that Chris Bangle riffed on at CreativeMornings/London August, David’s sure to make another great contribution to the dialogue.

Read our usual interview with David below and make sure to set your alarms for 11:00 am on Monday, January 23 to secure your tickets.

David Barrie will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday January 27th at Buro Happold at at 71 Newman St, W1T 3AH. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.


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Authenticity in branding and where the car industry has got it all wrong


During the interminable wait to get on a rescheduled flight to Tasmania I started idly flicking through my blog feeds.

More often than not I hit “mark all as read” rather than actually doing any reading.

But my eye was caught by a post by Steve Jones on the Fast Company blog titled Authenticity Vs. Perfection: How To Brand Like A Rock Star.

A lengthy excerpt from a book, my sleep-deprived, caffeine-addled brain skimmed most of it.

But the central thesis is one that has resonated with me since I started my journey into brand strategy in 2005.

Here’s my riff on it: humans are imperfect but imperfection lends individuals their character. It’s character, our unique mix of our perfect and imperfect qualities, that acts as our emotional magnet, attracting or repelling fellow humans. It could be said that the more honest we are about our mix of perfect and imperfect, the more authentic we’re being. And, in my experience at least, authentic people have deeper, more engaged and longer-lasting relationships.

And so it could be (should be?) with brands.

Because we want brands to be our best friends after all.

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Bentley: The New Sound of A Brand Down the Drain

Shell advertisement from the Festival of Britain featuring a Bentley

In 1951, a Shell advert proclaimed that one went “very fast very gently in a Bentley”.

In that same year, Bentley’s own advertising proclaimed that theirs was “The Silent Sports Car”.

David Ogilvy, in his imperious advert for the ’59 Rolls Royce, went so far as to say that the Bentley alternative was for the diffident.

And even when growing up in the decade that taste largely forgot – the 1980s – Bentley remained the choice of the discreet.

Indeed, all the way up until 2003 a Bentley was a luxuriously appointed ride under the radar.

Then Volkswagen came along and buggered it all up.

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About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Westpac. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I help teams host an event called Rising Minds in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney.

DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. All views represented here are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of anyone else.

Get in touch at drewpasmith (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.