Led by Simon Hancock and Paul Taboure,the team at THEREdesigns branded experiences for the built environment that capture imagination and positively influence the way people think, feel and do—on a global level.
Hear what’s possible for retail and public space branded environments when you join Simon Hancock and THERE Head of Environments Charlie Bromleyfor their session "Global Impact: Brand Building for Innovative Place" at 2018 SEGD Branded Environments,next week in Las Vegas. This session is sponsored by DCL.
We had a chance to sit down with the pair to talk inspiration, branded environments and design on a global level. Here's what they had to say.
What excites you most about what you do?
Simon Hancock: I like the fact that as storyteller, we get to shape the idea of a place. We are helping create inspiring places that influence how people think, feel, interact and function. We can foster feelings of well-being, confidence, intrigue and—now and then—a bit of wow!
We get to collaborate with some of the world’s leading architects, interior and 3D designers, working for innovative brands and organizations who understand the potency of the visual image, so working together within these teams always pushes you but also keeps things exciting.
Charlie Bromley: Quite often, no one knows what we do! I commonly describe our field of work as the layer of fun on top of a project—the bit that magically appears at the end of a build and really makes a space unexpected. I love that and, as a relatively small company, we get to grapple with some huge clients and fantastic briefs.
But nothing beats seeing your work out there in the wild—and it’s a great thrill to know that you’ve actively helped shape the feel of a new space.
What are the biggest challenges of designing on a global level?
SH: It is the inherent complexities of creating places that are meaningful and respond to local context and culture that makes what we do constantly enjoyable and interesting, yet challenging.
We take the same approach to every project—no matter the client, size or location—but each place is different, defined by its own unique attributes and personality. When working in Asia, for example, you need to take the time to understand local culture and the relevance of historical and geographical context—aspects that can be less of a factor in other countries.
How have you seen experiential graphic design evolve during your career?
SH: I think it’s a fascinating time in design. Clients are increasingly smarter and understand more and more how important it is to create engaging and meaningful interactions with staff, customers and visitors, and realize the impact this has on business success.
People care more than ever about their built environment and the experience it provides. With the growth of social media, everyone is now a photographer and looking more closely at everything around them; the physical environment and the sense of place it creates is becoming more important than ever.
CB: I’ve particularly seen a growing appetite for experiential graphics in workplace design.
Retail design has long demonstrated the importance of strong brand cut-through in busy environments, but for workplaces the audience is lot different. People spend most of their lives at work, and so to communicate a brand in this space you need to adopt a 'slow-burn' message that reinforces a brand in subtle and nuanced ways. It’s not about the quick win of an advertising campaign; it’s about creating a space that is infused with the spirit of a company.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on and why?
CB: It’s quite often that my favorite projects come from having the best team to work with—the projects we did for Rabobankand Knight Frankhad trusting and supportive clients and dream architects, and I think that kind of team effort really comes across in the final outcome.
But also, some of my most memorable projects are ones which never see the light of day. For every project, we normally come up with a whole raft of diverse ideas which get culled along the way to a final product. We recently designed an exhibition system for an underground power plant, which required huge learnings to get to grips with the complex engineering feats that made the next-level infrastructure possible. Our solution was modern, immersive and I think really clever—but, unfortunately, the funding fell through and so for now it’s going to remain on paper only.
What are the top considerations when creating a brand-centric customer experience?
SH: Firstly, be respectful of the brand. Brands take a long time to build, and you need to ensure the creative direction is authentically aligned with the brand's DNA. That’s not to say you have to follow established norms though. A lot of the work we do is done deliberately to challenge conventional thinking, shift perceptions and invoke intrigue.
Environmental branding is a physical expression of an organization’s identity, culture and values; it's integral to the fabric of the whole user/visitor experience. Communicating how a place should be understood and navigated requires more than the design of great aesthetics; you also need to understand the intended use and different users, and how they will interact with it.
Creative thinking and innovation should be intrinsic to the process from inception to completion. So much of what we do is a collaborative iterative process with many different inputs. Throughout the process you are constantly faced with different issues to resolve, requiring you to be adaptive in approach and allow for a certain amount of design flexibility.
What are some branded environments that inspire you?
CB: Like most creatives, we get inspired by different things every day. Personally, I love the immediate impact of retail design, yet I'll often reference the detailing of modernist architecture to bring a level of quiet craftsmanship to a project. Any space that has a balance between surprise and smarts will definitely get my attention.
What do you hope attendees will take away from your session?
SH: As a company, we believe that intelligent, beautifully designed spaces inspire people, and inspired people create value for organizations and society as a whole—so obviously we hope the work we show will resonate with the audience, many of whom will be in a position to create similar value.
Asia and Australia are a long way from the United States, but maybe the way we responded to a brief or an approach we took to solving a problem might help others in the work they are doing.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Branded Environments event?
CB: Isn’t Las Vegas supposed to be the most immersive, experiential environment going!? I’m looking forward to experiencing that!
Don't miss out on the chance to hear from Simon and Charlie—and the rest of the line-up of talented designers at this year's SEGD Branded Environments event. There are only a few spots left—register now!