Luxury designers have been slow to embrace digital technology, and those at the very top have been slowest of all. Super-luxe brands revel in the mechanical and the material, in burnished dials and ostrich leather sleeves. Where does digital technology fit in? Continue reading
Tag Archives: Conran digital
Last year saw the launch of our digital agency Conran Singh.
Headed up by its eponymous director Daljit Singh, a luminary in the field of interaction design, they have already completed exiting new projects for Your Square Mile and luxury mobile phone brand Vertu.
But what’s he all about? And what’s the future for digital? Last week the team over at Creative Social decided to find out a bit more about him…
CS: How did you get to where you are today?
Daljit: I studied Graphic Design at Nottingham Trent University. After graduating in 1991, I went to work for IBM as an Interaction Designer. Two years into the IBM job I decided that actually the next thing to do would be to set up my own business, and that was when Digit was born. From its inception, Digit grew to about twenty people in the first five years. We were in Soho to start with, and then after Soho we moved into East London and were one of the first companies in Hoxton Square. In 2005 we sold and became part of WPP, so in total I ran Digit for about fifteen years. I left in March 2010 and thats when I started Conran Singh.
CS: Why was Conran Singh created?
Daljit: The Conran Group is run by Terence Conran, they’ve been around for almost two decades and the businesses include the Conran Shops and the Conran restaurants, of which there are about thirty around the world. There is also a publishing arm to the business, called Conran Octopus, and then there are the actual design studios which are based just behind the design museum. Within those businesses there are Conran and Partners, which is an architecture and interior design business with about sixty people in the practice doing jobs all around the world. There’s Conran Studio which is product design and branding. There is also Conran and Company, which is involved with product developing and licensing. The one thing which they have never had was a digital division. I started speaking to them and they asked if I would be interested, and here I am a year on. It seemed like the right thing to do and quite an opportunity, so I guess that’s the straightforward reason for it being born.
CS: What work have you been involved with that you are most proud of?
Daljit: Throughout my career there have been lots of things. I suppose some of the highlights have been in the Digit years. The stuff that I have always been very passionate about is R&D. I think Digit was one of the very first companies to really invest in doing research and development. We developed lots of our own projects, non-commercially, which ranged from looking deeply at interactive design and seeing what you can do with interaction on screen, and then physical interaction, which lead to some really interesting commercial projects. We did the redesign of the Habitat site many years ago which at the time was very groundbreaking. In more recent times, some of the physically interactive work that we did for Motorola has been really interesting. There’s also a project for the National Gallery which we did in collaboration with The Partners, it won a Black Pencil at the D&AD awards, I am very proud of that.
I think now, being with Conran, I am really looking forward to applying a kind of design sensibility back into what interactivity really means. There are a number of very interesting things we are doing at the moment, none of which I can talk about. Its fascinating because it is maneuvering away from straightforward marketing and advertising, into the realm of actual design and solving problems, and that is very exciting in terms of what the future holds. More importantly, I think our clients are very interested in that kind of attitude, they need it for their business.
CS: What major changes, in your opinion, can we expect to see in the Digital Communications industry in the next ten years?
Daljit: That’s a big question. I think the multi-platform world will become less multi-platform. We will be doing much more than we already are on the move, as opposed to being tethered somewhere. I think there will be a significant change in our notion of entertainment and the way that we view it. Look at television and you can see this is already happening. Up until now it has always been in the corner of your living room, this is fundamentally changing. I think our engagement with information will become simpler because we will get rid of all of the noise that is in the market place at the moment. I also think that strong, creative ideas will have to become more prevalent and more important to cut-through, because I think that brand and business can only survive where they have a very strong notion of what they’re trying to say and what they are trying to talk about, and actually the technology will need to become better designed. Apart from looking in a crystal ball I don’t think I can do anymore than that!
Read the full interview with Daljit here on Creative Social including the buzz words Daljit would like to erase forever and what he thinks is the biggest challenge for the advertising industry at the moment.
As we turn the corner into Olympic year we wanted to reflect a little on what’s happened here at CONRAN in 2011: it really was quite a year.
We began working with Marks & Spencer, for whom we designed our beautiful branded collection of home products which launched this Autumn. Our new Spring Collection hits the shops any day now! Watch out for fabulous wicker lamp shades , elegant bedroom essentials and an Alfresco collection which will make waiting for summer even more painful…!
Terence celebrated the auspicious occasion of his 80th birthday celebrated in part by a wonderful Terence Conran retrospective exhibition at the Design Museum – which runs until the 4th March and was designed by our graphic & interior design teams. Did you know Time Out also voted Terence as one of their ‘people of 2011’ ?
The Telegraph liked him quite a lot too….
The Conran Shop have been doing all number of gorgeous and interesting things including some fab seasonal window displays and – of course – developing new ranges of product like the Barton & Pavilion furniture ranges, designed by Terence, manufactured by Ercol.
Architects Conran & Partners have been busy planning the development of a huge eco housing estate in Ealing and the redevelopment of the Astoria Cinema in Brighton and London landmark Walthamstow Stadium…and that’s just here in the UK!
2011 also saw the launch of Conran Singh, our interactive agency dealing with all things digital who have already completed exciting projects for community organisation Your Square Mile and luxury mobile phone brand Vertu. More to come from them with a Q&A with founder Daljit Singh next week.
And that’s just off the top of our heads….
We are very excited about our brand new digital venture – Conran Singh.
It’s an entirely new design-led business within the Conran Group that will give brands strategic advice and interactive design thinking.
Stephen Barber joins Daljit Singh as Strategy Director – over a coffee at The Design Museum he tells us a bit more about what’s going on at Conran’s newest company…
How would you describe CONRAN Singh?
We’re an interactive design consultancy. We’re convinced that design should be elegant, simple and effective regardless of the medium and we’re paying special attention to how digital services and utilities can make life easier for people.
Do you think it’s possible for a company whose history is so firmly rooted in retail, product design and architecture to extend its reach to the digital world?
I really don’t think it’s such a stretch. Most retailers – Conran included – are already selling things on the web, and they’ll be selling them through social networks, mobile devices and TV before too much longer. That innate knowledge of knowing how to sell things works just as well on a screen as it does in a physical shop.
And product designers are all over this too – one of the things I’ve noticed during my career in digital is the diverse backgrounds of the people you meet working in agencies. Many of the digital designers I know started out by studying product design, and then felt that it translated over to this new medium. If you think about it, designing for the screen has a lot of things in common with designing real-world products: we think about the tactility of the interface – how it feels, how it looks, and how it behaves; and then we think about the things that are going to attract people to it in the first place.
As for architecture, it’s clear that when you talk about digital now you’re not just talking about people sitting in front of screens in their homes or at work, but out there in the world, doing the things that they’ve always done. We just have many more digital ‘helpers’ doing things for us – phones, laptops, apps – and these are starting to shape how we interact with the built environment. We’ve seen lots of people trying out new things in retail environments recently (check out this nice prototype by a team from Hyper Island: http://vimeo.com/18499643 ) but I’d suggest that we’ll start to see real digital utility and service start to integrate with the very fabric of the buildings we occupy before too much longer…
What are you working on at the moment?
We’re busy creating the DNA for the company, really. I mean, we’re having all sorts of interesting conversations with other businesses about how we can help them, but we’re also at that point in starting something where what we decide now is going to influence the next few years of our working lives. So it’d better be good!
What’s been the best thing you have done so far in your digital career?
Some of the best things I’ve done have never even seen the light of day, that’s the sad reality of working in a digital agency. I’ve helped one of our largest education companies redefine what it means to be a qualified learner by thinking about measuring learning differently – that was one of my favourite things, but the proposition we worked on was never taken up.
Probably the best thing recently has been working with a Middle Eastern airline to help them design the best airline web site in the world. Did you know that if you’re a first class passenger, you get to take your falcon on board with you?!
What’s the most exciting thing about being part of CONRAN?
I love the fact that you’re working within this immense design heritage when you sit in the CONRAN building. It’s everywhere around you, and our opportunity is to start to pull together some of the strands of the different businesses and tie them into a single consolidated offering that takes the best bits of product design, branding, architecture, digital thinking, and mashes them up into a unique, problem-solving design consultancy. Daljit has his own inimitable way of describing this: if you see him, just ask him about his döner kebab…