Every month our resident brains behind the brands Emma Booty, Head of Branding at Studio Conran, shares her thoughts and observations about the world, and how it is branded.
Brand experience and paying for lunch
Lunchtime rituals have always fascinated me. The dash from the desk has been the one constant of my working life. Soho sandwich queue days were essentially window shopping sprees in disguise, Clerkenwell was ‘provincial fayre’ and pre-pay day chips, Milan’s gastronomie conversations commenced at 11, reaching work-defying frenzy by 12.15, Tokyo provided water-cooler warning words of global womanhood: ‘rice crackers make you fat’.
Here too at Shad Thames we are in prime location for daily feasting: Pont de la Tour’s boutique sandwiches and the next door Deli cries of ‘un altro panino signora!’ are my two current favourites. So the only way to avoid the drudge of calorie limitation is to exercise in fury: morning hors-d’oeuvres is Gymbox and a one-hour spin-circuit class with an angry ex-marine.
Gymbox breaks the mould of smug, guilt-inducing, right-on fitness clubs with their 10 metre lap pools and carpet tiles. The brand is cheeky, brash and, well, kind of annoying. The underground industrial spaces have been transformed into dramatic feuding arenas. Designed by Ben Kelly they’re reminiscent of the Haçienda-days: the columns are wrapped in black and yellow stripes, railway sleepers divide the space and an enormous boxing ring takes centre stage. Not MTV, but Rocky movies projected on the concrete walls and live DJs. This brand celebrates our vanity, modern guilt is eschewed for a cuff round the ear. And I’m now Facebook friends with Millar-the-Pillar. Even on the most vicious of early mornings it can’t help but raise a wry smile.
Gymbox is a fine example of a brand connecting successfully with its customers. A great idea that holds its shape and integrity through all points of touch. Changing room mirror vinyls remind you how sexy you look, timetables tell of Stiletto Workout classes and Jamaican street dance. The hazard colour palette and the ‘Load your guns and tighten your buns’ are a morning call to action that puts me in credit at least one cappuccino and a cream-filled brioche.
On a more beguiling note I’m off to see the flock of zebra finches at their current residency at the Barbican – winged and jamming with electric guitars and amps.