Archive for January, 2008

Home sweet home

anouk-shunt pix

Anouk Van Den Eijnde writes:

So here’s something I don’t do very often – I built a house, decorated it and put it up for rent all in one night. I wish it were that easy in real life. Last week at the Shunt, the (literally) underground exhibition space and late night bar under London Bridge station hosted an installation event called Home Sweet Home. For the whole week the arena space in the vaults was transformed into a community created by shunt members. A range of materials were provided to embellish your newly bought flat packed house – glitter, paint, play-doh, fake grass, you name it. There was a real buzz in the air, a feeling of togetherness while young arty Londoners sat around sipping beers and getting creative. You could listen to Residents’ FM and chat to the postman doing his rounds. On the last day there was even a street party.

It’s a world away from the highly digitised society we live in. One of our ‘cultural frequencies’ for d_Code, our youth intelligence research, is “Analogue Living”. It highlights this back to basics mentality that’s increasingly important to youth. The dynamics of Home Sweet Home – with its hand-made products, simplified forms of entertainment and media, and even traditional community structures, is right at the heart of this frequency.

31 January 2008 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

The lure of celebrity

jackson Blair lookalike

Andrew Curry writes:

I think we sometimes under-estimate the power of the relationship between our increasingly audio-visual world and the rise of celebrity culture. And the second part of this story is about the way in which media coverage of celebrity is a classic form of ‘reveal and conceal’ narrative, where the audience is simultaneously invited into this world of money and power and exclusivity and also excluded from it. Media empires have been built in the space between knowing and not knowing. Some of the sharpest commentary on this world has been in the work of the artist Alison Jackson, who works with celebrity lookalikes. has just posted a revealing lecture she gave in Oxford three years ago. It runs just under 20 minutes – and some of the images she uses to illustrate her talk are not for the easily shocked.

The picture at the top is a publicity still for Jackson’s Channel 4 film, Blaired Vision, shown last year. She’s interviewed about it here. And yes, that is a Blair lookalike: she’s currently looking for Gordon Browns for her latest project, apparently.

29 January 2008 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Cultural values, design, and global production



Eleanor Cooksey writes:

I recently read WPP’s annual journal of marketing insights, Atticus, and noted an interesting point towards the end of an article called ‘Getting the little things right’, by a team at the digital agency Digit, in London. [Not currently online, unfortunately].

They discuss how product and service design, in particular for electronic media, tends to reflect ‘Californian’ values, which include ‘pragmatism (a can-do attitude and belief in prototyping), audacity (focus on innovation and the pioneering spirit) and a certain lightness of touch (playfulness and optimism)’. Perhaps not surprising, they say, since so many user interface principles came out of Silicon Valley in the ’80s and ’90s. When one thinks of Apple, for example, it’s easy to see how these values translate into product experience.

But users in other regions expect an experience which reflects their important values. In Europe, this might include ‘conviviality (social not solitary) and quality (craftsmanship, individualism, local provenance). Nokia, for example, has recently shown prototype handsets which embed ‘green values’ and social responsibility.

But as the global design market becomes more integrated, it may become increasingly hard in the future to work out whose values are inherent in services and products.

Image ‘ipod’ copyright 2007 Apple Inc.

Image ‘eco phone’ copyright 2008 Nokia.

22 January 2008 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

It’s not about the money any more


Brian Chien writes:

In an article for the latest edition of the Royal Mail’s Contact magazine, we looked at how modern consumer currencies go way beyond money. Sparked by some recent examples of free marketing in the television and music sectors, including Radiohead’s latest album (initially, but no longer downloadable at the price the user chose to pay), we noted that even when such transactions don’t involve cash they still take both time and energy . Consumers understand that there’s no such thing as “free” marketing, so how should worth be measured?

We tested this against our database of attitudes on five user “currencies” – Information, Time, Energy, Money, and Space (ITEMS) – and found that 38% of UK consumers rated Time as the most valuable of the five currencies, while 30% believed Energy to be most precious. Which prompts a question: how much do marketers know about how their consumers juggle between currencies?

21 January 2008 at 7:04 pm Leave a comment

The attitude-behaviour gap on debt

Debt trends, HCHLV data

Gemma Stevenson writes:

The scale of consumer debt in this country is now pretty well-known – whether it’s the £1,000 million of mortgage debt or the fact that overall consumer indebtedness now exceeds annual national income. But one of the big surprises for me when I attended a breakfast briefing we ran for public sector clients today was how people feel about it.
Research data shows that between 2002 and 2007 the number of people agreeing with the statement “I am happy to have short term debt to allow me to buy the things I want” fell from 43% to 32% – a clear and significant shift in consumer attitudes. (Click on ther thumbnail above to see the chart). Yet the question raised on Wednesday was ‘when will this lead to a change in behaviour?’ This doesn’t seem to have happened yet, despite the attitudinal data. Yet at the same time, there are ‘weak signals‘ of change out there, such as the relatively rapid rise of local freecycle groups.

One thought that emerged from the discussion was that the debt conundrum had similarities with public health issues such as obesity: that providers had to change their behaviour, perhaps nudged along by regulators, before consumer behaviour starts to change in line with underlying attitudes.

16 January 2008 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

The power of packaging

Belgian chocolate packaging

Jake Goretzki writes:

Belgian chocolate – while evidament the best in the world – has always let itself down by the conservatism of its brands (Cote D’Or’s range hasn’t really changed for the last 40 years). So it’s a pleasant surprise to find some innovation, from ‘Dolfin’, a brand which I hadn’t previously heard of but is apparently making friends and influencing people in the supermarkets of Bruxelles.

I like the way the packaging communicates the brand. But even better, the wrapper is like a re-sealable rolling tobacco pouch, and really gives the chocolate the feel of something specially blended for the special moment, to be taken in small doses in reflective interludes. It takes Galaxy’s ‘indulgence’ to another… galaxy, ah oui. But be warned; it’s 70% cocoa – so you’ll love it or hate it.

11 January 2008 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

From wind-powered cheese to socially-conscious snack bars


Anouk van den Eijnde writes:

Over the past few months our global streetscapers have been busy tracking down examples of how sustainability issues like energy consumption and fair trade are playing out in their home markets. The cheese manufacturer Forlasa in Spain produces wind- and solar-powered cheese, using renewable energy to minimise its CO2 emissions and to power local homes.

The American company Peaceworks produces a range of natural foods , such as the ‘Kind’ snacks bars, through promoting joint ventures between people on different sides of conflicts. Five per cent of the profits go to OneVoice, a PeaceWorks foundation, that fosters co-existence in the Middle East.


Remarkable recycles UK waste by making it into useful (and fun) stationery and office products. This notebook is made of recycled car tyres:


9 January 2008 at 10:44 am Leave a comment

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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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