Tag: innovation

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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02
Feb

Dare to Aspire: Working at the Intersection of Creativity and Ambition

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

As creatives, we’re always working toward to the next great thing — the next project, the next pitch, the next award. But with our packed schedules and competitive industry, it’s easy to get to caught up in the day-to-day of meetings, deadlines, and output, that we often aren’t able to stop and ask ourselves, “What are we really aspiring to?”

Recently, we completed a new show open for E!’s hit series, “Fashion Police,” and found ourselves focusing on the aspirational nature of fashion for the open’s theme. The fashion industry is driven by an unabashedly honest mandate to be aspirational. As much for designers and brands as for the consumers they create for. Aspiration, along with motivation and inspiration, is a key part of the trifecta that’s essential for any company to grow, but it’s not where we usually place our emphasis in our industry.

As brand marketers and designers, we operate at the intersection of business and creative, equally influenced by both industries. In the business world, the focus is on a very outward, but down-reaching goal of how to increase motivation from interactive programs and books to motivational speakers. In the creative world, we put so much emphasis on where we get our inward inspiration, via conferences and award shows, design annuals and publications. Both have their place, certainly, but without the key ingredient of the forward-thinking key of aspiration, we’re losing an opportunity to focus on long-term change.

We focus so much on motivating employees and inspiring good ideas, but do we really focus on our own aspirations for our company? Maybe we should take a cue from that industry and as entrepreneur Curt Hanke puts it, be a little more “naked with our ambitions.”

But to really be sure we’re incorporating aspiration into our company’s mandate, it’s important to understand how motivation, inspiration and aspiration differ. Motivation is a complex driver that governs much of our life, especially our basic needs. It can be summarised as “the desire to do things.” It can be biological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I’m hungry and need to eat.”) or psychological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because it was due last week, and I don’t want to get fired.”) Within this context, aspiration can be seen as a “long term hope” or “goal.” Your aspirations can motivate you to work hard and get things done to achieve your further reaching goals (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I want to start working on the idea that will make me the next Leo Burnett.”). While inspiration is a sometimes fleeting injection of some higher reaching creative that we’re trying to make accessible on our own level, budget, time or talent-wise.

Aspiration is about raising the bar from within. That’s why it’s important to revisit your aspirations on a regular basis, whether for your career or your company. And, by keeping your aspirations as goals at the forefront of your company’s mission and feeling proud enough to share them with your partners, employees and collaborators, you’re essentially broadcasting your confidence in your own brand. So, even if our wardrobes haven’t changed much since the ‘90s, maybe we should all aspire a little to be more like the fashion industry and reach a little higher.

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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16
Jan

The Future of Television

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Television was once lauded as a groundbreaking medium, but as we’ve entered an age of seemingly exponential growth in media technology, that status has become questionable. Surrounded by competition being broadcast on every screen imaginable – from sources that were previously unimaginable – to some, the perception today is that television has become slow to adapt to technology, and media companies are more interested in competition and gobbling up competitors, or monetizing views rather than charting the future of entertainment.

There are glimmers of truth in these observations, but gleams do not illuminate the totality of change going on in broadcast and cable television. Let’s step back for calculated pause. Perhaps the issue isn’t television’s tepid use of technology, but more our FOMO and impatient mindset as it concerns digital media. Our impatience is blocking our full appreciation of market conditions.

We are bombarded with hourly news about the latest digital and television content deals. We attend industry conferences where everyone is busy speculating about digital and television competition and convergence. And the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is, “when will television catch up with new models of distribution?”

But by focusing on this question, we’re not appreciating the fact that television’s history is still active and ongoing. Also, in our excitement to move forward, we may be overestimating the success of new distribution platforms. Netflix has not shared ratings for its hot shows House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black, but the buzz nevertheless, quickens the tempo of conversations. Our impatience tells us that the content is out there, but . . . what? The buzz amplifies our impatience, which feeds our prevailing mindset.

There are two ways of understanding the future of television, first from the technology side: how to best deliver content whether through VOD, SVOD or over-the-top services. Secondly, through the targeted content side: understanding what type of programming people want to consume. Most consumers are not deeply concerned with the hardware companies that control the physical gadgetry; most would also rather consume interesting and meaningful programming.

From this perspective, it’s the content that seems everywhere, and media companies are the competitive foot-draggers. At a recent New York Television week, a panelist said that there’s endless programmable content out there, but this may be a bit of an overstatement. What is out there are silos of niche audiences. The prevailing logic is that the mother brand, the larger company where television’s legacy still makes it king, is what ties them together.

And while we’re placing so much emphasis on the evolution of digital media, i.e. the second-screen, studies show that, so far, at least, viewers are using new technology either as supplemental or in partnership with traditional viewing, not as a replacement. If we look back in American economic history, during every epoch of industrial transformation, the successful companies made strategic moves while the losers acted too quickly. Caution is not always a losing strategy.

From a brand perspective, television shouldn’t lose sight of audiences, who they are and what they want. Media empires, broadcast and cable companies must forge relationships with audiences, create conversations for smart and busy viewers using new demographic, trends and ethnographic research.

Needless to say, broadcast and cable television is cautiously charting its future, and that future it is happening right now. At this moment, companies are thinking, planning and iterating how to deliver content to anyone, anywhere and across any screen. Amazing opportunities exist. You’ve got to know where to look.

05
Sep

Think Like A Tourist: Do You See or Notice?

Photo by opensource.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

Photo by opensource.com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

This summer, we’ve been traveling on our “design pilgrimage” as we call it.

I brought several books on the trip with me to give structure to my thoughts and writing. One was Experiences in Visual Thinking by Robert H. McKim, the classic how-to manual for anyone who wants to sharpen his or her creative visual thinking skills.

These are the methods of approaching any problem or situation using subconscious and conscious types of thinking. Visual thinking is a multifaceted skill and approach to any problem we have to solve on any given day.

We’re all born with the ability to harness our imagination, and we think most of our waking lives, but as McKim sees it, schooling, habits, thinking patterns and work life get in the way. We think broadly and unproductively. We believe the way we think about one situation applies to most other problems or assignments.

When I was a university teaching assistant, we new teachers had several sessions of training to prepare us for working with students and the various ways people think and learn. Most academics are logical and linear thinkers, but that’s merely a slice of the learning personalities in the world.

In one particularly useful session, the trainer was a professor and researcher who used neuroscience in his teaching methods. He said that all of one’s thinking life could be reduced to patterns we used in the grocery store (before Amazon, obviously!). The way we thought and acted on our thoughts in the store was the organizational patterns or thinking blueprint we probably applied to everything else in our lives, including university assignments. Some people are spiral thinkers, he said, they go in the middle and work their way out, with or without a list. Others work from the sides going up and down the aisles.

He gave us this information as a way to help us teach and empathize with students. Everyone uses patterns in their thinking and we apply them to most aspects of our lives. Raising our awareness about the types of thinking, he wanted us to understand that just because someone doesn’t take what we think to be logical notes it doesn’t mean they’re not absorbing and using the lecture content meaningfully.

We approach our design problems in similar ways to our approach to the grocery store and McKim’s tool kit remains valuable for all of us visual solutions people.

The pivot for thinking takes place as we look at our world. Using McKim here, seeing is what most people do; perceiving is what most successful visual thinkers do.

What’s the difference between perceiving and seeing?

Seeing

Seeing is looking at the world and our surroundings as is. We use and apply thinking blueprint and go about our day solving problems or creating solutions. We look at an assignment or problem. We research what others say about it and come up with solutions. It’s practical, efficient and reliable. This is often called deductive thinking. It means you apply general observations about the world to particular problems.

But, seeing as a thinking tools is rarely innovative.

Perceiving

Perceiving, on the other hand, is active with multiple steps and involves all of what McKim calls “operations” in our brains. Here are some key facts about the process of perception:

  • Active and ‘down below.’ Let’s say you are given a creative brief with an assignment. Perceiving would involve looking at the problem, researching and talking to others. Perceiving problem solving means sitting with the assignment and walking away, shifting the process to ‘down below’ into the unconscious layers of brain activity, anfr letting the mind work through the assignment for some time without using the conscious mind.
  • Integrates past ideas. Perceiving blends the past with the new assignment. Let’s say your assignment involves coming up with new ways to drive interest in a company’s new product, say men’s socks. Because you’ve worked on many, many projects with the assignment of driving awareness, you know the tried-and-true steps. But wait, you’ve also seen stellar and creative work done in financial services lately that raised awareness about products, too. While not the same product, they had similar market problems and they tried x, y or z. Integrative thinking brings in other experiments to your problem and sees what works.
  • Connects dissimilar topics. Perceiving is making mental leaps and combining with other areas. Let’s say you have a passion for travel and you read lots about the best surfing in world, which you know is in far-flung places like Taghazout, Morocco, Bundaran, Ireland or Tofino, British Columbia. You know this topic, and you’ve stuffed lots of details in your brain over the years.This “stuff” comes in handy when you are thinking about travel and surf and your sock assignment. You’ve looked at the sales figures, the average consumer and you’ve got a stack in your drawer at home and the office. You realize that connecting the socks that fold easily can be found in the dark easily and are made of breathing micro-fibers with travel and these often unheard-of places could breathe new market life for the socks, and make the client very happy.

That’s perceiving — seeing the world in a new way. Utilizing your brain’s functions and harnessing your creative powers.

So what’s your take on the world around you? Do you see or perceive?

— Kate Canada Obregon

29
Aug

How Danish Design Infuses Into Everyday Life

Scan 2In our last post, we talked about the connections we saw between geography and design thinking. The city of Christiana in the middle of Copenhagen seems to embody the thinking and problem-solving skills any designer needs. It functions as a mini-city and its early founders wanted to experiment with the best way to combine design and urban planning with living off the grid. At least the 1970s version of off the grid.

 In this post, we’re going to pare down our thinking and talk about Danish Design. Specifically, how their design thinking is infused with their art and how they spend their days.

 The ingredient in their version of design thinking seems to be empathy.

Empathetic design is not just decoration. It’s a powerfully blended combination of art and purpose, beauty and functionality. It’s an orchestration, a deep understanding of how people interact with their worlds; how the body best sits in a chair, how lighting best distributes in a room and how toys stimulate the brain.

On a less grand scale, design thinking infuses Scandinavian and Danish Design.

The Danes are renowned designers because they are design thinkers. They invest energy and time into what an object, idea or concept or thing will do for people, how it will interact with people’s everyday lives. How we are drawn to objects and ideas. Design in this way is problem-solving and empathy. Whether it’s a chair, lamp, clothes, art, buildings, machinery and technology—the problem-solver designer wants to make our lives better, more comfortable and interesting.

 

Poul Henningsen's PH Artichoke Light

Poul Henningsen’s PH Artichoke Light

The iconic Danish chairs or lighting that we love here in the States could have been made less beautiful and quirky, but why would we want to settle for a chair that may look good but makes our back hurt by noon? We love these objects because they marry style and function, utility and beauty.

And why not merge style into function and in the process make people happy about sitting in a chair during a long, boring meeting? For the winter light-deprived Danes, the Poul Henningsen’s PH Artichoke gently fractures light into smaller bits that envelope the room in warmth.

From this perspective, design inserts itself into people’s everyday world, quietly and respectfully. Designers want to live with us, so they think about how objects or ideas will burrow into the habits and routines of our lives.

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22
Aug

Think Like A Tourist: Deconstructing Danish Design

The island of Christiana situated in Copenhagen.

The island of Christiana situated in Copenhagen.

We headed out this summer for what call our Oishii design expedition. These trips help us to refresh, shift perspective, and perfect our practice. Around the office we ask everyone to “Think Like A Tourist” and purposeful travel is the best way to realize our recognizably lofty ambitions.

Going out and exploring is not simply about seeing what others are doing, although that’s always useful and fun. These trips are for us, about immersing ourselves in how other cultures think and work and create. So this summer we packed up and headed to Denmark, one of the centers of iconic Scandinavian design.

Design is everywhere in Denmark and Copenhagen; it infuses daily life, and not just architecture, industrial design, furniture or fashion. For well over 300 years, Denmark has been universally recognized for design and craftsmanship. And we are familiar with the modern designs of Bang & Olufsen, Kaare Klint, Arne Jacobsen and the Jans J. Wegner chairs. For us, we wanted to experience and understand the power behind Danish design, and capture thinking in action. We wanted to spend time in Bregade and the Design Museum and wander the city.

It became clear quickly to us that the power of Danish design is what happens before an object becomes physical and real.

Danish design captures a thought process, long before the iconic lamp, chair or building takes shape. Like good design thinkers, Danes create things for people, to use and maybe make their lives better and more comfortable. And fun, too. Perhaps it’s the history of Denmark; they endure long winters with only a sliver of sun, the many fjords and waterways cutting cold into bare skin. This is design thinking, solving our problems with a solution that brings light and air into routines. After all, that is what the best design is, problem solving on a grand and neverending scale.

You see design thinking obviously in architecture and urban planning. One example is a “city” in the middle of Copenhagen called Christiana. It’s not a “city”; it’s more of an urbane modern commune smack dab in the middle of a bustling metropolis. In this “city space” on a fjord, was once a 700-year-old military barracks. The Danish government was in the process of abandoning the property in 1971 when locals quickly marched in. They set up a semi-autonomous city with housing, public services and a public garden and architecture codes. They called in celebrated graffiti artists to paint murals, they set up food markets and industry. Lots of thought and experimentation has gone into all facets of the garrison-city, what the early founders wanted residents to experience.

The flag of Christiana.

The flag of Christiana.

 

 

 

Welcome and well-placed firewood

Welcome and well-placed firewood

Entering the gate into Christiana.

Entering the gate into Christiana.

 

The fjord looking onto the bridge. Note the new architecture emerging in the background.

The fjord looking onto the bridge. Note the new architecture emerging in the background.

 

 

 

A typical “vacation” house on the island. All houses must adhere to strict regulations.

A typical “vacation” house on the island. All houses must adhere to strict regulations.

 

01
Aug

It’s Summer: Daydream!

DaydreamSummer months are ideal occasions for creative ideation. As work colleagues go on holiday, and frenzied schedules relax, there are more chances for what I call unstructured creative work — ideation time without overly planned, organized and managed schedules. It’s the time to daydream, wander and to get bored. Yes, that’s right, get bored for a creative purpose.

Creativity — whether in the science, design or agency worlds — demands freedom to play and wander, and our over-scheduled and hectic daily routines don’t leave room for deep, creative work. What we know of as “aha” moments happen because you’ve just connected lots of seemingly unrelated dots that have been steeping in your unconscious over time. Think of it this way: Suddenly, the science exhibit you’re viewing brings to mind the Transformers movie you just saw and that blends with a song you heard a few weeks ago at a party. And, “aha,” seemingly out of nowhere, you came up with the perfect idea for tomorrow morning’s data visualization presentation.

That’s creativity. Taking seemingly unrelated things and combining them together to make something new. The creative process is a complex orchestration and neuroscientists are only beginning to map out the relationship between creativity and the unconscious. We do know that for the most creative and productive minds, incubation takes time and involves several steps and processes.

In a recent article in the Atlantic, researcher Nancy Andreasen studied the most “prolific” writers to see if she could see patterns and processes in highly productive minds. Andreasen found that the most productive creatives ideate, prepare and incubate. In other words, they work, ponder and engage their curiosity and produce. They’ve got room to roam and they use it cleverly.

But, as we understand from experience, the unconscious process and its strengths don’t always fit into standardized work schedules, and, in fact, many people and companies hold negative opinions, judgments and associations with daydreaming, the vital element in the creative incubation process. Sometimes, people are judged as unproductive or lazy when they don’t seem to be hitting a mark; when they aren’t relentlessly “producing” heaps of “things.”

That’s because we live in a culture that defines creativity by metrics and outputs. Fortunately, this notion is changing as pioneers of the unconscious, like neuroscientist Scott Barry Kaufman, are studying the activities of the brain where creativity emerges, and in the process, are challenging conventional notions about daydreaming and slackers who want to take a nap after lunch.

But even as science helps to evolve our understanding and relationship with our generative powers of innovation, convergent thinking and originality is elusive. In the abstract, we love it, admire it and try to fit it into schedules. But in the practical sense, sometimes we just have to give ourselves a little flexibility to go off schedule and zone out with our thoughts for a while. So, take advantage of the long warm days and empty quiet offices, and give yourself some space to ruminate.

It’s summer. Go daydream!

30
May

Meet Carlos Penny, Our New Head of Business Development!

Carlos PennyWe’re excited to welcome Carlos Penny as our new Head of Business Development. He comes to Oishii with more than a decade of business development experience, including positions at TV production company SD MEDIA and digital content agency FILTER.

Bringing Carlos on board is part of our continued evolution by embracing strategic partnerships with a focus on multidisciplinary talent and investing in proprietary technology, mobile video and multi-channel networks.

What makes him right at home at Oishii? He’s passionate about emerging industries and technologies, he’s in tune with the future of our company and our industry, and he brings the same energy and ethos we do when working with clients. So everyone wins.

When he’s not surfing or cooking sliders on his rooftop deck in Venice Beach, you can find him supporting the local community, which he’s proud to call home (Oishii’s a close second, of course). Carlos also volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation and is working towards launching his own non-profit, Surfunite.

27
May

Think Like A Freaky Tourist

Think Like A FreakA few nights ago, we enjoyed taking in the new Freakonomics book with authors Steven Levit and Stephen Dubner.  The latest incarnation of their Freaky franchise, Think Like a Freak debuts this week at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. For us in the creative industries, the popularity of thinking differently is a welcome addition to our thinking toolkit.

With their usual witticism and insight, Levit and Dubner offer more observations into the ways we rely on habits and unconscious incentives when making decisions and solving problems. Often we don’t critically think through our own thinking process, say Levit and Dubner. We don’t recognize our selfish motives when thinking and taking action; we shy away from asking for help and we stand on the shoulders of conventional wisdom to solve problems.

As we continue our Think Like A Tourist series, I want to bring an older voice into our ongoing conversation about creativity, Mr. George Orwell.

Orwell was a writer obsessed with clear thinking and writing. In his famous essay Politics and the English Language, Orwell took issue with jargon and complex writing styles. He disliked glossy or shimmery writing, because as he saw it, such writing lacked lucid thinking. In Politics and the English Language, he pressed writers to write less and think more. He wanted writers as artists to take a step outside their craft and evaluate how they make art. In this way, Orwell wasn’t necessarily interested in helping writers become great writers so much as he wanted writers and artists to be rigorous thinkers. As he rightly saw it, writers and artists have responsibilities to their craft and audiences. Readers need to read something that challenges their habits and stretches their ways of looking at the world. He wanted audiences and writers to use their minds and exceed each other’s expectations.

Orwell’s aspirations are applicable for us in the creative industries. Our work lives are framed by trends, reports, data, thought leadership, research findings, insights and even the five-paragraph executive summary. These pieces of conventional wisdom are the beacons of our craft, giving direction to our solutions and shaping the direction for our clients’ next launch.

More than thinking like a freak, Orwell reminds us to always take a few steps back before we write, draw and do. Pay attention to the words we use, the phrases we toss about in meetings, and the goals we give our teams.

Who feeds you the language, phrases, terms and conventional wisdom everyday?

 


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