Yesterday digital creative agency Poke hosted a Creative Day at pop up venue Hackney House, celebrating creativity in both digital and physical forms.
Poke Creative Day was split into three parts; a panel of businesses whose prime output is physical but are intrinsically digital in the way they operate, the Brilliant Lectures featuring illustrator Mr Bingo, The Rumpus Room’s Tom Roope and Made by Many co-founder Tim Malbon, and finally a workshop with the Princes Drawing School.
The event was hosted in the pop up venue Hackney House which aims to showcase local business and cultural offerings during the Olympics. It seemed a fitting surrounding for the topics on offer as the big top style tent gave a very non-corporate edge to the event.
The first section of the event was dedicated to the new types of businesses that are emerging, which fuse together the selling of a physical product with components that are digital, such as distribution, manufacturing, ecommerce and marketing. The panel, which consisted of people from Berg, Makielab, Sugru and Moo, explained about their business and discussed how a wave of technology and innovation had made it possible for them to create a business that’s primary output is something physical.
Design consultancy Berg helps brands find solutions and ides by also making and creating products of their own. The latest of which is BergCloud, technology created by the consultancy aimed at making it a lot easier to make smart products work on the internet.
The first product to run on this technology has physical at is core but is made possible by the latest technology. It is Little Printer which is powered by a website or mobile enabled site which allows you to make personalised mini-newspapers, with content powered by partners such as Google, Foursquare and The Guardian. It works by a user selecting what they want to know about on the website which then send the information to the printer, which prints out the content, much like a till roll.
Matt Jones, principal at Berg, said, “It’s lowered the cost and increased the speed of inventing new products. It means if you can write for web you can now also create for a physical product.”
Makielab is the company behind new toy Makie Doll. The idea for the doll came following one of the founders trip to a toy fair, at which she concluded that no one was really forging the physical and digital gaming worlds with a new idea. Makie Doll is a doll created via 3D printing technology which means that before the product is bought it can be customised online. So far the first 100 batch has been sold but the company now plans to release more and has plans to build on the digital component to the toy, which is an online game that the toy is a part of.
Jo Roach, a founder of MakieLab, said the company added a forum functionality to the website which has now become an important part of its business as the people who have bought the dolls have been creating new clothe and using technology such as Arduino to bring the dolls to life.
She said the web and technology had helped them become a new typeof toy business, “Normally the toy industry would take 3-5 years to create a doll and once launched it would be the perfect product, we took six months.”
Sugru is a product that has been in development for over eight years but has been available for 2. It’s a new material that is pliable and sticky when first used but becomes hard over night meaning it can be used on a very wide variety of goods to customise and fix.
Technology has helped in a vast amount of ways for Sugru but it’s how the company is to use the web in the future to solve a problem it currently had that founder Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh is looking forward to. Sugru as a product can be used in a very large variety of ways, from fixing bike handles, making cameras more ergonomic, creating jewellery to fixing car brakes. As a result it is hard to focus the product to a core audience.
Ni Dhulchaointigh believes that the web, which lets her to create personalised website experiences, can actually help her keep the product varied which not turning off her disparate audiences.
“We are increasing specific landing pages for interests and then also for audiences where there is a known problem, for example a washing machine fault that Sugru is the best product to fix it. We’ve found that a lot of street artists use Sugru but we currently aren’t telling that story because we are concerned it may put off the engineers audience, for example,” she said, “People I have sought advice form have told me to close down the number of audiences or to have a more descriptive name, but what technology means is that we can continue to grow the company without this going against it. We don’t need to dilute it and instead it make sit stronger.”
Moo started life as a business card company with a difference, now it prints a variety of products. One of is product sis a business card created by logging into Facebook. The app extracts your data and images, collating it into a great looking business card in minutes.
According to Moo creative director Matthew Grey, said the company had plans to “close the loop” once more with technologies such as NFC being earmarked for its next cycle of product development.
This section of the event was chaired by Poke’s Nic Roope who summed up the panel by arguing that the current situation we are in means that it is a lot easier for these innovative businesses to evolve because technology is making things cheaper.
“Unless you have £10m you wouldn’t have traditionally been able to set up your own supply chain, for example, but there is actually now a whole industry coming up with solutions to help meet these demands and means that these smaller companies can grow. For example, there is now way that Makie would exist without 3D printing,” he said
Mr Bingo website
The Brilliant Lectures
Simon Waterfall chaired the mid-section of the event, hosting three speakers that had to talk about themselves in three parts; I made this, Inspired by and I learnt. Made by Many’s Tim Malbon spoke about the idea that brands are now ‘friends’ with people and talked about an experiment he ran befriending the Soreen brand on Twitter. The Rumpus Room’s Tom Roope spoke about the evolving relationship between TV and online and about how his company believe that TV can create more interesting content and ads when the mix of scale and inclusion of the audience are met. One of his examples was a project for TalkTalk around the X Factor in which people could become the TV ad by recording a video of themselves dancing to songs. Finally illustrator Mr Bingo talked about a project that started on Twitter but has now evolved into an upcoming book deal with Penguin. Mr Bingo is a vintage postcard collector and one evening tweeted out that he’d send an insulting postcard message to the first person to tweet him back. The popularity of him led to the illustrator selling postcards on his website, now priced at £20 each.
The final part of the event was a hands on workshop about drawing. The event was a refreshing change to a lot of events about digital and felt very inspiring, entertaining and informative all at once. It was refreshing to hear about Hackney’s local businesses and how the internet has been fundamental in building their ideas, rather than how larger corporations are using the web to be more effective or human. It made it easy to see why larger corporations are in danger of being outpaced by companies such as these because the way they are formed means they will be able to scale and grow but, importantly, without losing the values that make them unique.