It was a number of weeks ago now that I travelled to Brazil with Victoria from Watershed and Pervasive Media Studio and Tim from matter 2 media. We went over to discuss a project I took part in this February called the playable city sprint. We met a lot of people through the workshops and going to events, with the objective to understand and discuss the idea of what a playable city response could be in Brazil. It's an ongoing project and one that I hope to be involved in further. However what I really want to write about isn't directly the project but things around the project that seem to be particularly appropriate.
Changing a city through partnerships:
I wrote in a previous blog about if you city was a person what would they shout about to friends to try and impress them? what is it that the other city would go wow. Or you lucky thing. Well maybe lets back track a bit and think if you are a great person (city) then it's unlikely you are going to blurt out on the first few seconds of meeting someone that you are going to say hi I am Cardiff and I have own a red ferrari. But cities might learn about you owning a ferrari in time. So what I am saying is could the real way of getting to know cities is through relationships?
But how does this work? how could we get this in Cardiff? well I dont think the first thing should be look at my event. i think it should be a hello whats you favourite colour (never that good a conversation starters)
Concentration on the next HUGE thing
The main thing that I wanted to explore is an ongoing idea of scalability and replication of models and generally how possibly we are a wee bit obsessed with the next HUGE idea. I wrote in an article on my blog a while ago about scalability. People discuss about companies needing to be the next facebook or Google. But as we were discussing in Brazil. Look at silicon valley. There are huge companies there yes. but also below this there are 1,000's of small companies all creating amazing products/services that are being bought by customers and are contributing to the economy. Choice is the spice of life and small dynamic companies that can react, collaborate and evolve. So instead of huge investments for one company why not the same investment in hundreds of companies?
Would this approach allow for greater unique companies being created? would this multiple approach lead to more connections?
It has been quite a week for us at Hoffi. Graduate shows, creating some great new work and also going to an award ceremony on the stage of the WMC. What was more, we actually won. We were up for an Arts & Business award for our long term support of Cardiff Design festival. Which feels great. Since we set up we felt it almost our duty as designers to support a project such as Cardiff Design Festival. It seems crazy not too.
After all why would you not get involved in an event that brings knowledge sharing, social events, awards to the design community plus then pulling the curtain back slightly for the generally public to understand a bit more of design in all it's facets. A big thank you to everyone who has ever held an event during Cardiff Design Festival and also the the long time organisers Olwen and Angie. Without them then we definitely would not have won. It was also great to see nofitstate putting on part of the entertainment.
Through our actions we influence others, or at the every least we affect them.
I wanted to think about this in a branding sense, and in particular the idea of branding a destination. Firstly lets think about a place as a person. As with a person a city has a personality both good and bad. It also has interests these might fade over time but there will always be an underlying nature or a core that runs throughout. Just like people a city will change and grow, I once remember reading that someone's personality changes approx every seven years. In time a city changes emphasise from housing, innovation, manufacturing, festivals all of these elements will seem to be more or less important at different times.
So I think for me what is really interesting is can we inspire a city? Can we make it change personality and can this be a genuine thing as opposed to a make over? As we are based in Cardiff I think it best to contextualise it through my experiences of the city. Cardiff is an interesting personality.
In it's modern guise (widely identified by many as being created through John Crichton-Stuart's work) it was a rich city, somewhere for trade and a port at the centre of the industrial revolution. It helped power the world economy through the black coal being pulled out of it's very heart further North in the valleys. Features that have since been formed from this and are now such an integral part of the city. Spaces such as the green spaces of the city and other iconic buildings such as the castle which due to it being in the centre of the city has to be a great personal attribute. But these are physical attributes what are the things underlying the city that make it ebb and flow. What are the things that excite the city and want the city to tell other cities about?
So through various work over the years our work with Cardiff Design Festival has tried to give the city a design interest a place that could potentially grow into a creative centre of excellence. The festival produced by Olwen and Angela with the support of Cardiff Met Uni, has indeed changed my experience of the design scene within Cardiff from one of a closed nature through to one that is opening up day by day. Only time will tell what impact in clients and projects these design companies get but the future has begun.
Secondly over the last two to three years I have been hugely involved in working with thinkARK , where we have produced a number of projects that have all commented on Cardiff in some way. Sometimes positive other times looking at what could be improved. But what I have come to realise recently is actually the work is an attempt to change and inspire the city to bring an ability and skill to it that it may not have had before. With this simple thought I felt that this might extend to all of the small 'events' being created in Cardiff. These are truly the unique parts of Cardiff. The independence, lack of funding and openness is what makes them unique. The small events when added together are huge part of events in Cardiff. Just as the smal businesses of the UK make up the majority of the UK economy so too does the small event.
So is it time to bring these to the fore? Make and give Cardiff it's heart through the genuine local events.