There's something wonderful in this. In a time when the printed object is being declared moribund, there are lessons hidden in this project that go deeper than the invisible ink the UV light reveals. Lessons on DIY and desire that sit sensorially at the intersection between digital and tangible, from a bunch of people that sit so far in the future they ponder the poetry of patina.
As brand head at INQ I played a walk-on part in the SVK project in the role of humble advertiser and grabbed the back cover. It's been a pleasure. One of my favourite mementos are these early notes taken by MJ.
And this is what it became - the final UV proof.
In Kenya Hara's beautiful book Designing Design there is a fascinating chapter on Muji's brand philosophy. From the idea of fostering acceptance instead of appetite among its customers to basing its communications on emptiness:
"The concept I propose for Muji's advertising is emptiness. That is, advertising does not present a lucid message, but in effect, offers an empty vessel to the audience… and viewers freely deposit into it their ideas and wishes… And so Muji's ads have no copy."
I became interested in Karl Lagerfeld a couple of years ago because of his gargantuan book collection, which in turn led to a fascination with his multiple creative endeavours, constant curiosity and carefully constructed persona.
Lagerfeld keeps breaking through the seams of his main professional identity, with multiple collaborations that are currently overflowing into the world of advertising and driving his personal brand with a pop art purity that would have made Andy Warhol jump up and down on his wig with envy. Take, for example, the trio of short films/long ads he recently shot for Magnum, the ice cream. And the Volkswagen ad he starred in.
Is this just crass commercialism? Or is this a reflection of a pop art that is no longer distinguishable from marketing? From Cambells cans on canvasses to bottles of Diet Coke co-branded by Karl Lagerfeld. I picked up the 3 bottles in Harvey Nichols a few weeks ago. They now sit on one of my bookshelves. Pure advertising abstraction made readymade. Superstar self-referentiality.
But back to the books. And how they have become very much an extension of Lagerfeld. A key element in his personal brand armoury. The wall of volumes in his Parisian studio like a full sleeve tattoo he cannot help but show off. Take this still from the making of the coke bottles.
Or this photographic reportage.
From a brand perspective, what makes this powerful is that it is grounded in a true obsession. Behind the unemotionality of his white powered hair and black sunglasses, the passion for the printed object is palpable.
On my way to pick up some Singapore noodles with extra chillies from my local bento shop I stop off for a wander around the Battersea RCA end of year show. Lots to see. Some fresh and some a little more derivative. Overall, definitely worth a visit.
I see Momus walk by outside, looking even cooler in the flesh. A couple of women dripping wealth are being shown around by some guy.
In the Sackler building I walk into one of the exhibition rooms in what looks like an office-inspired work with well curated eclectic knick-knacks and a young woman behind a desk at the far end. She asks me what I want. Lovely installation, I say. She tells me it's not part of the show, it's the office. Is her reply part of a performance piece?
In the sculpture building, I walk ambivalently through Edward Fornieles Animal House II (I think that was the name - a physical follow-up to this I believe).
Outside, the weather cannot make up its mind. I get my noodles and walk back to the office.
Sad, scary, disturbing, and terribly tragic. The story of the child witches of Kinhasa.
"Far from traditional Congolese values that have always considered the child as an asset, these 'visionaries' [from evangelical churches] rely on a fallacious use of the popular belief in witchcraft and give it a distinctive urban slant. Of its ambivalent initial nature (being both protective and threatening at the same time), remains only the malicious side, using the easily influenced children to carry out its work. Once declared evil, they are considered become dangerous burdens for their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, but most often step mothers, who consider it safer to get rid of them than to keep them; because once the 'demonic' nature of a child has been declared, there is no turning back. In most cases, even after a 'spiritual operation', as expensive and violent as they are, the child-witch remains a child-witch."
Fulham, West London. A massive Rolls Royce stands outside my local Sainbury's. It's a limited edition Phantom Black. Only 25 were ever made (I'm not a car geek, I know this now courtesy of Google). Standing still next to the back door is the white anglo-saxon driver/bodyguard. By the way he stands erect he must be ex-military. A couple of council-estate kids with a black&white pitbull straining on the leash snicker in the background.
A little later inside, as the cashier scans the barcodes of my foodstuff, I notice the large digital numbers on the next till running into hundreds of pounds. The Sainsbury's security guard is holding multiple bunches of tulips. In front of him a woman is dressed in a black burqa and a tight-fitting black quilted Moncler jacket. Behind the veil, her Kohl circled eyes are young and wealthy.
As she glides out of the store and disappears behind the black-tinted glass of her car, an electric jolt runs through the human medley queuing for their lucky dip on the Euro Lottery.
A couple of months ago, as I returned tired from this trip, I lost my 3/4 read old-skool hardback copy of William Gibson's most recent novel Zero History. Fittingly, I left it in the back of a black cab. The secret brand that provides the red thread to the story remains, for me, unravelled.
Then other day, as a couple of cool looking Japanese 20-somethings stood in pilgrimage outside Vivienne Westwood's World's End retail shrine, I crossed the road and walked into the charity shop opposite where I picked up Paul Smith's You can find inspiration in everything* for a couple of quid.
Inside there's an introduction by William Gibson, where I found this paragraph:
"London and Tokyo possess an unthinking self-assurance. Paris is perpetually and narcissistically conscious of itself, and New York needs forever to be congratulated. The inhabitants of London and Tokyo, however, are consummate appreciators of 'secret brands'; they act out private dramas of relative consumer-status with a gravitas seldom seen elsewhere. Both the English and the Japanese are brilliant importers. If you want to know what it is that your won country produces that is genuinely excellent, look for what the most obsessively discerning residents of London and Tokyo choose to import. Look for the choices of the otaku, the fanatic of pure information."
A pattern recognition of sorts.
Here's some of the stuff I've been working on for the recent launch of the INQ Cloud Touch.
Similarly, it was great to have Marta Lamovsek on the set taking some stunning shots.
Following in the tradition of featuring artwork on the packaging, this time the box was graced with NYC-inspired imagery of Linda Zacks.
Last but not least, if you're interested in the geek details, here's the story behind the INQ Cloud Touch.