Category Archives: Conran Singh

Designing for good: the D+AD White Pencil

We’re big believers in the capacity of design to improve the world. Of course, all design should do this, from a coffee cup to a piece of architecture. But some designs are more virtuous than others.

D&AD White Pencil

The D&AD White Pencil award exists to honour the crème de la crème of virtuous design – designs submitted in response to a brief, that help make the world a better place. Appropriately enough, the awards are based around Peace One Day, the global peace day held every 21st September.

This year, the brief is to grow support for Peace One Day itself:

“Grow awareness of and engagement with, Peace Day, establishing September 21 as a global, self-sustaining, annual day of peace, when everyone can take action to end conflict in their own lives and in the lives of others.”

Peace Day is about far more than just kind words: in 2007, its potential was proven when Peace One Day led a ceasefire in Afghanistan, and 4.5 million children were vaccinated against polio.

Peace One Day

Anyone can enter the White Pencil. Winners will prove the value of their idea by acting on it: raising as much awareness as possible in the run up to and on 21st September, and explaining how they’ve done so. There are more details here.

Daljit Singh, head of Conran Singh, is a D&AD Ambassador, and has this to say:

“The White Pencil presents a unique opportunity engage the grey matter towards good, a chance to point our collective energy and skills to do something better for society.”

Off you go!


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Securing our Olympic legacy

Yesterday we talked about how we’re helping the British Business Embassy show off Britain’s many talents away from the athletics track, helping to build a lasting legacy from the Olympics. On the same theme Conran Singh, our digital agency, have been helping The Legacy List with their communications effort.

The Legacy List is a charity established by the Mayor of London and the Olympic Park Legacy Company, tasked with engaging Londoners in cultural and community events that make use of the Olympic sites after the Games are over. The charity will commission a range of works of art and education projects in the coming weeks, month and years.

The Legacy List

The Legacy List website

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Friday Tip: Make mine a Lardo

London isn’t short of trendy restaurants – Terence Conran’s included – but Lardo, a new Italian in London Fields, is a little bit special. We wondered why Stephen Barber, Strategy Director for Conran Singh, hadn’t been down the pub much lately.


London’s hottest new restaurant

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Pixels are forever

Last Thursday, Conran Singh hosted a debate on the use of digital technology by luxury brands.

Precious Pixels event

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Conran Singh on Luxury: “What does this button do?”

Here’s the latest from Conran Singh on luxury – check out their blog for more.

“What does this button do?”

If you have enough money, you can spend the hassle out of almost anything.

Luxury hotels are well-accustomed to dealing with the outlandish requests of their well-heeled guests; travel concierge outfits offer the super rich the simplicity of a life almost totally unplanned. Why hail cabs, reserve tables or book flights, when all of these things can be done for you? Continue reading

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Conran Singh on Luxury: Luxury without ostrich leather

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

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Conran Singh on Luxury: Can money buy a better interface?

As promised, we’re following up Daljit’s Wired article on Monday with the first of Conran Singh’s thought pieces on how luxury and digital mix.

Conran Singh phones

Today’s question: can money buy a better interface?

Designing by committee

Received wisdom dictates that, in the digital design world, iteration is king. Tech needs to be built, tested, torn apart, and built again, and it it this process of iteration that makes good interfaces.

The same holds true for most design, of course – except that tech naturally lends itself to crowdsourcing. When Facebook wanted to translate its interface into every language, it used a crowdsourced development process: users could submit translations for the 300,000 words which comprise the Facebook interface. These submissions were voted on, and translation was done by consensus, in the blink of an eye and at negligible expense.

Much more than other companies, software makers design by committee: user feedback is collected, collated, and used to improve the product. It’s tricky to do the same with a toaster.

This is a blessing and a curse. A software company knows better than any other what its customers want – or at least, what they think they want. As Henry Ford probably didn’t once say, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. In other words, crowdsourcing may actually limit the possibilities of software design, pushing designers to refine the old, rather than to invent the new.

On luxe

Most areas of design have a luxury end: Bentley cars, Bang & Olufsen speakers and Hublot watches. These manufacturers design to the highest standards, making products that are not just sold on their name, or the expense of their materials, but also the beauty and refinement of their design.

Luxury design takes time, money and expertise, and the iterative R&D that typifies designing for the mass market doesn’t take place. Perhaps because of this, such manufacturers design groundbreaking things. Why doesn’t the same apply to digital design?

For digital, too, there is room for a high end – and, as computers become embedded into just about everything, doing digital well becomes an imperative for luxury brands.

There are two roads to a great interface. One is the mass market: designs honed by the collaborative will of thousands or millions of users. The second is less travelled, but no less valuable: deep investment of time, money and expertise to create truly sublime digital experiences.

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