Daily nuggets of inspiration from the good folk
Want these delivered to your inbox?
Poke us back.
I was in Singapore recently for a few days, for business and a bit of fun too as it coincided with my birthday! After a busy day at the office, a few of us headed round the corner for a well-earned drink. Now, you know how much we value the importance of storytelling here at Elmwood. So when we came across a little cocktail bar called Bar Stories, we had to head inside…
In the bar, there was no menu in sight. Instead, you order drinks by telling the mixologist how you feel.
How was I feeling? That evening, it’s fair to say I felt conflicting emotions. Knackered, jet-lagged, but happy to be in Sing and out celebrating my birthday. So a few shakes, a few stirs and a few pours later, the bartender had rustled up a cocktail adventure especially for me – featuring smoked lavender for its relaxing properties, passion fruit to refresh, and plenty of spirits of course. The piece de resistance, balanced on top, was a silver spoon – my birthday gift – holding a scoop of lemon sorbet for some added zing.
What a great approach: a brand tackling the emotional need-states of its patrons rather then offering those easy-fix functional cocktails. A totally different offer and a clever way to add even more theatre to a birthday night out.
We’ve all been there – staring down at a blank piece of paper, hoping inspiration will strike. That, somehow, we’ll get lucky and something approaching design heaven will appear from the blinding white creative void that sits before us. It’s at times like this that we’re faced with what feels like a difficult choice: tough it out and hope that ‘luck be a lady tonight’ or dust off your swag bag and indulge in a little design looting?
Judging from what I’ve seen recently, this a no-brainer, particularly in the world of retail. The light-fingered have been hard at it. This isn’t a bad thing though. In fact, if any of these ideas had been mine I’d be stealing with pride!
Two interesting ideas see traditional bricks and mortar retailers thinking more like magazine publishers. The first was founded back in December 2011 by Rachel Shechtman. Her store in Manhattan’s Chelsea is called STORY. Every four to eight weeks, the store is completely renovated: its walls, decor, and merchandise are all changed to reflect a new theme. When I visited last summer, the theme was New York and was co-curated with Coolhunting. Previous themes have included Color and Love. Currently it’s Create, featuring a host of DIY stations and projects. The boutique has partnered with GE to feature machines like MakerBot, where visitors can make their own designs come to life.
The second comes from industry veterans Anna-Marie Solowij and Millie Kendall who have created BeautyMART. It’s a beauty store designed and merchandised in the same way as fashion magazines. Many people enjoy browsing magazines as they’re laid out so nicely. Need a winter coat? Head to the fashion section. Looking for a new lipstick? Turn to beauty. By creatively ‘borrowing’ from fashion magazines, BeautyMART groups products thematically, making the whole shopping experience much more intuitive and enjoyable.
Finally, continuing with the beauty theme but stealing from a completely different world comes Singapore’s The Beauty Emporium. Located inside a former military barracks, it looks like a supermarket. Inside the 17,000 sq ft space, trolleys are lined up next to grocer-style crates and shelves where you’d expect to find milk and butter but are actually stacked with moisturisers, facial creams and shampoo. Clients can also order custom-blended products or be pampered in one of the treatment rooms. Founder Cynthia Chua says her concept combined the supermarket with the personality of a cult grocer.
So next time you’re in need of some creative gold, why not step stealthily into some other brand worlds and see what ideas you can bag?
Airport terminals can be soul-destroying places at the best of times, with little to distract you from the prospect of a long flight. If only more airports were like Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 1. (Thanks Lisa, Singapore).
The refurbished terminal boasts a new ‘kinetic sculpture’ called Kinetic Rain, consisting of 1,216 copper droplets that are programmed by a computer to create ephemeral shapes and other fantastic formations. During the 15-minute displays of shimmering choreography, the droplets form geometric shapes and even aircraft outlines as they glide through the air.
Singapore’s only landfill is on the island of Pulau Semakau. The Republic of Pulau Semakau series by Singapore-based photographer Zinkie Aw highlights the country’s waste management issues and shows how our rubbish can be an insight into our identity. (Tx again to Charlotte, Singapore)
Guactruck is a mobile eatery from the Philippines with beautifully sustainable packaging. (Many tx to Charlotte in Singapore)
Free from glue and plastic, the origami-inspired packaging opens like a blossoming bud. Customers are encouraged to return their packaging with stamps towards a free meal. Guactruck is a fine example of a brand reducing its environmental impact without compromising on design.