Tag: design

02
Jul

Step 2: Why Your Company Needs to Build a Brain Trust

Now that we’ve talked about creative entrepreneurship, let’s build a brain trust, shall we?

It takes more than one person and half an idea, which is why entrepreneurs need to set art, imagination and design loose into the company. One’s particular if not unique talents are small in comparison to a generative, empowered brain trust. By setting talent into motion, they can systematize imagination and let art and strategic design help solve problems collaboratively.

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A company is only as good as its people. For imaginative and capable people, everything is a canvas for the imagination, to paraphrase Thoreau. But with not so capable people, ideas are a punishment to be endured. So, cultivating great talent means not only finding the right people, but also planning and building out a brain trust. As Steven Johnson has argued, most of us walk around with half ideas in our heads; and we need others to test our assumptions, put them into practice and, ultimately, accomplish our visions.

Talent who can create, spread and adopt ideas are integral to a brain trust. They animate the organization’s environment and shape its culture – no wonder creative teams need to be intellectually, creatively and temperamentally diverse. From loud to quiet, left to right-brained, logical to free-form, a blend of perspectives and skill-sets is what makes an exceptional creative team. While the process is a raucous bustle and tussle of talking, arguing and sharing, it’s how truly innovative ideas take root and grow.

We’ve built this into our culture. Transcending the design discipline to include social scientists, MBAs and humanities graduates, our brain trust is unconventionally dynamic and collaborative.

It’s not unusual, for example, for one person to question the purpose of the traditional upfront while another deconstructs a logo from a different perspective or investigates the history of lower thirds, transitions or swipes. As Johnson puts it, “chance favors the connected mind.”

20
Feb

Clean, Simple and Effective: Five Visual Design Lessons from Edward Tufte

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Working in visual creative is our profession, so how people see, think and process is at the core of our business. We are devoted to merging design with technology and how people relate to the world. So, of course, we are continuously inspired by data visualization expert Edward Tufte, or the “Galileo of Graphics,” as Businessweek once dubbed him. “ET,” as he calls himself, is an artist, statistician and artist, and Professor at Yale, who’s written, designed and self-published four books on data visualization. He’s worked with everyone from IBM to The New York Times to NASA, all in an effort to better deliver information.

Although ET primarily works in numbers and charts, at the heart of his analysis and lessons, is the universal language of creativity — storytelling. ET may specialize in beautifully expressing data, but at its core, it’s still telling a story, something we’re striving to do every day. And the similarities extend from there. Ultimately, ET has many theories on good design, especially this one, from his book Envisioning Information: “Clutter is a failure of design, not an attribute of information.” Here are five more lessons we can apply from ET’s teachings:

Edward Tufte Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Edward Tufte
Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Allow for Solitude
Tufte is a champion of forcing audiences to “see without words,” which he explains requires a clear mind. In order to achieve this empty state of openness, sometimes, we need solitude, or at least quiet as our brains aren’t very good at multitasking while engaging in deep, contemplative thought and communication. So deep seeing requires a fairly certain serenity of one’s self, but also a serene environment. And in that way, all the brain’s processing power can veto into seeing.

Don’t Dictate How Others See Things
Tufte warns that designers and marketers often underestimate their audiences, and thus attempt to over-explain with their design, which results in unnecessary clutter and labels that stop the audience from having their own reading of the art, instead only seeing what’s been presented to them. Trust in your audience and let them explore your design on their own. You’ll both be much happier.

Don’t Follow The Trends
Tufte has spent his life pursuing the documentation of “forever knowledge,” or guiding principles for design and data visualization that are not dissimilar to scientific principles in that they can be tested and stand the test of time. Tufte doesn’t believe in following design trends; instead, he encourages you to pursue classic designs that can stand the test of time. This isn’t to say that trends are without merit in our industry, but we should carefully pick and choose which, and how, to integrate.

Approach Design from the Outside In
Good design, according to Tufte, can speak to anyone. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean that we should underestimate our audience and present a watered-down version of anything; alternately, we should consider what they really need and design from there, rather than letting the technology dictate the design. So, just because you have access to Oculus Rift doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all projects.

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere
ET cites Swiss Alps maps and traffic controllers’ hand signals as two of his favorite, most inspiring visuals. Okay, so maybe for a numbers geek like Tufte a map makes sense, but the fluorescent cones? They’re a language unto themselves; visual communications parsed down to the most clean and simple level allowed for. You never know what’s going to speak to you, so don’t rule any experience out. You may think you don’t have time to go for that morning surf, but when you’re out on the water, rolling with the waves might just be when the much-needed inspiration strikes.

13
Feb

TV & Modern Art

FP_MainTitle_60In the 1940s and 1950s, broadcast television design was very much influenced by art and art movements, popular culture and innovation. Design teams contributed to what Professor of Television Lynn Spigel has called the modern taste wars. Television, in its own mass appeal way, crushed distinctions between high and low art, brought together themes from museums and the streets, and blended new visual experiences altogether into American living rooms. Networks hired renowned pop art and graphically-inclined artists, wanting to project scale and “good taste” to audiences. Early TV pioneers knew the power of television: not only was it a storyteller, capturing and speaking to the American collective consciousness, but it’s also a visually dense medium that has the ability to tap into emotions and engage the senses.

In the 1970s, motion graphics operationalized “taste” culture and art into its larger brand. Graphics and technology became a tool to create identities and compelling ways for audiences to experience a television brand.

With this sort of active art legacy, we already have a throughline into art and popular art movements. That’s why we’re so loving broadcast design that looks back to the roots of art and television while thinking forward. We’ve partnered with E! on many occasions; most recently, for one of its popular series “Fashion Police.” In the show open, the chaos of abstract expressionist and pop art blends with fashion and awards season. We love playing with the legacy of television, sharing so much rich history and inspiration along the way.

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23
Jan

Think Like An LA Tourist: Slideluck LA

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At Oishii, we believe in philosophies that promote acting more than thinking. Over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that actions in the world make us better thinkers. Thoughts don’t motivate us to move.

We’ve worked to embrace and build on this ideology through various hashtags — #WriteOutdoors and #ThinkLikeATourist — that immerse us in communities of art, design, writing and science. We like “dense” events where lots of people come together from different disciplines and industries.

Recently, we started off the year attending an event we think could work in Los Angeles: Slideluck. It’s already popular in New York, as well as in other cities around the world.

This past Saturday, Slideluck, which is part slideshow and part potluck, returned to the “Best” Coast for a night of food, fun, music, and art in Hollywood. Slideluck LA VII; joint-curated by Krista Martin, Photo Curator for American Apparel, and Michael Hawley, art collector and former President of the Photographic Arts Council, Los Angeles, found a home at Joan Scheckel’s The Space at 6608 Lexington. Walking into a hexagon-shaped corridor, we experienced a display of lights, images, and movement from perhaps an unexpected inclusive crowd over 300 strong.

At first sight, it looked like a scene-y underground hipster loft party, but a few more steps inside and we found ourselves in front of laughing young children of famous photographers ordering IPA’s for their dads, to fashion-forward elders telling us how gorgeous we are (sweet!), to our curious Uber driver/emerging singer-songwriter who asked if it was cool to participate. He didn’t want to just attend; he wanted to interact, which is exactly the community-building movement behind Slideluck LA. It’s a representation of our creative community in all of its beautiful colors, shapes and flavors. The event was a communal canvas built around a showcase of the photographers’ work and more importantly, provided a judgement- and pretentious-free environment, allowing for first-timers at an underground art scene to feel warmly welcomed.

Events like Slideluck are important for us because we know the value of immersion. Immersion and conversation keep us motivated, sharp and engaged. Scientists call these meetups “collisions” with purpose. Group interactions help people challenge their assumptions. Coming together, even if to listen to music and see art, increases the flow of information into your brain and stimulates neurons. If you discuss work, all the better. Most studies of innovation strongly suggest that talking about your work with others, even if informally, helps you move hunches or ideas beyond early stages of superficial thinking. A place called “initial biases” are where many people often stay, go out and talk to people. Dare yourself to think differently.

L-R: Loro Piana Interiors' West Coast Account Executive Caitlin Griffin & Oishii's Head of Business Development Carlos Penny

L-R: Loro Piana Interiors’ West Coast Account Executive Caitlin Griffin & Oishii’s Head of Business Development Carlos Penny

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07
Nov

Agency Post Profiles Kate Canada Obregon

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Our Co-Founder/Director of Strategy & Research Kate Canada Obregon has written extensively about the power of data in helping brands to better understand and connect with their audiences in authentic ways.

Agency Post recently profiled Kate on the marriage of social science and research in Oishii Creative’s work for both design and brand clients.

Here’s an excerpt:

Should creative ideas always be based in research and data? How does this foundation provide brands with a more impactful strategy or campaign?

The best creative emerges from a conversation with qualitative and quantitative data sets. I like to know the facts and the big picture that numbers can readily tell us. With that said, numbers do miss the subtleties of opinions, perceptions, and desires. This is where semiotics, ethnography, or other social science methods are extremely valuable tools. The best campaigns I’ve worked on are those where I’ve been able to dig deep into all sorts of data and turn up something unexpected and new. These campaigns end up being the most timely and talked about beyond a quarterly life cycle or the next ad buy season. I like partnering with clients who want to be relevant and let the research lead them beyond trends and into real meaning and relevancy. Audiences and consumers want this, too. 

Check out the full interview here!

14
Apr

Design Thinking The Steve Jobs Way

Image via successfulworkplace.org

Image via successfulworkplace.org

Humans innovate. We are wired and curious seekers. And when it comes to work, we are, it seems, inexorably driven to tinker and improve the patterns, people and processes. We can’t help but seek out the novel ways to create and produce our services and products. Alexis de Toqueville in the 18th Century wondered about the “American” temperament of industriousness, what he and many after him, referred to as a resolved determination to seek more and more value in everything.

Interconnecting with what was thought to be a superficial “seeking of value,” is the active pursuit of innovation. It’s no small task to step back from habits and mindsets of work and build better products or engineer services people feel they must have.  Steve Jobs, heralded as the innovator archetype, embodies this philosophy and action, with his ambition and obsessive approach to product design.

But the way we frame Steve Jobs often overlooks his intellectual depth, passion and purpose. It’s an unconscious move, a mental shortcut really. It’s easier to evaluate successes backwards than it is to study the billions of people who almost succeed or fail any given year and to see what works.

Jobs’ many successes, the ones that matter to design thinkers, were his grit, systemic thinking, flexibility and originality. More than a leader of design-driven products, he drove businesses to understand the value designers bring to the bottom line and innovative company cultures. He taught us that design thinking is radical and cyclical. It seeks to outpace demand, and bring excitement to crowded and competitive markets. More than corporate value, thinkers like Jobs normalized the belief that designers were integral to business thinking.

There are plenty of books about Jobs, some good, but most unexceptional. I want to draw attention to a recently published book that isn’t about Jobs, but nonetheless carries his design-thinking legacy and places it firmly and realistically into our time.

The Rise of the DEO, Leadership By Design by Maria Guidice and Christopher Ireland is a how-to book that doesn’t promise you will become a design thinker — but you just might. By way of clear prose and case studies, the authors take you out of yourself and hold up a mirror of reality. Times are quickly changing; it’s no longer enough to think like Jobs. To stay relevant, firms need to find and retain talent who will work, experiment and work some more. Innovative firms are run with the help of innovative people who ask for help, make mistakes and do what scientists have done for centuries — laboriously use their minds to craft solutions. Take a step back and think harder and smarter for solutions. It’s the 10,000-hour rule with mind maps and directions.

So surround yourself with people who will push, challenge, instigate, and affirm (or not) your pursuit of becoming a design thinker.

 

16
Aug

Ish Talks PromaxBDA Judging; Metrics for Award-Worthy Design

imagePromaxBDA recently tapped Oishii Creative Principal Ismael Obregon to join the judges panel for its annual awards event, which honors the advertising and broadcast industry’s best design and marketing work.

Ish views his participation as more than a “best practices” accolade; it is an opportunity to meet some of the best and brightest designers, editors and producers working in broadcast and television. The “rules” of broadcast design (written and unwritten) are well known among influencers and decision-makers in our industry. They have proven to be instrumental in keeping audiences engaged and watching content across all channels and platforms. But for Ish, there is more to assessing creative work than applying guidelines. Here are some of his own metrics for award-worthy design:

Read and Research
“Well-read and knowledgeable designers are not just clichés. Promos have a script – a cadence with a tone and style. I’m always looking for the inspired piece, and that usually happens with effort. Inspiration means looking at your work through different lenses. Whether by way of research, books, or conferences – even looking at your competitors’ work – the practice of innovative design-thinking begins with an open mind that is ready to absorb any and all combinations of inspiration.”

Use the Rules to Break Patterns
“Everyday creativists play by the rules, and the rules of branding, design and culture need to be understood, unconscious even. A designer might see an assignment with a new tweak, a new perspective, and simple shifts can become new elements of the brand.”

Small is Big
“Most designers know how to use the tools. I’m interested in how designers use their skill sets. The biggest impact comes from the small details and I pay close attention to how skill sets are used when judging work, the rendering techniques or animation approaches. Regardless of what technical approach is taken, I’m always interested in someone’s ability to create emotional connections with audiences. That’s what differentiates a good piece from a great piece.”


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