The initial insight is that it’s not down to a process — many agencies have a same process and that it’s rarely unique. No, the assets that seems to set them apart is; a great company culture.
It’s lovely to see that Andy mentions POKE as an example. I had the pleasure to work at POKE for nearly 5 years, and during all those years I did have loads of fun as well as given the chance and opportunity to do good challenging work.
The quote below is polled from the article, and I think it highlights one important piece in the puzzle — diversity in personalities.
Simon Waterfall, ex- co-founder and creative director of Poke and founder of fashion label, Social Suicide, previously explained that Poke made a particular effort to choose its mix of staff. “You never want to have three people the same, because they can all do the same thing,” he advised. “When you see something that you can do, there are only two responses. One is, ‘Ooh! That’s better than I can do [it],’ or ‘Oh, that’s worse than I can do it’. When you see something in a completely new field by someone else, something in you goes back to that childhood experience of, ‘F**k me! How did you make that?!’ You’re allowed to be generous of spirit, you’re allowed to have that wonderment. Choosing the most diverse group so that they don’t step on each other’s toes and have enough goodwill to be able to work together – that’s great.”
The photo I’ve chosen to go with this post is taken by Marc Davies on a day when the POKE office decided to rename the company to the initials of the partners (RFB&H) and dress up as if they were an Ad agency in New York during the 60’s (Mad Men inspired). I had left POKE when they had this day, but this wasn’t a “one-off”. I remembered one week when the whole studio were color coordinated. If I remember correctly, the Red Day was rather intense.
“You never want to have three people the same, because they can all do the same thing,” he [Simon Waterfall] advised. “When you see something that you can do, there are only two responses. One is, ‘Ooh! That’s better than I can do [it],’ or ‘Oh, that’s worse than I can do it’. When you see something in a completely new field by someone else, something in you goes back to that childhood experience of, ‘F**k me! How did you make that?!’ You’re allowed to be generous of spirit, you’re allowed to have that wonderment. Choosing the most diverse group so that they don’t step on each other’s toes and have enough goodwill to be able to work together – that’s great.”
On the 11 of February the world lost a visionary — fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. Truly truly sad. We are in need of more people like Mr McQueen, not less.
I had a pleasure to work for him while being part of the small team at POKE who designed and build the previous incarnation of www.alexandermcqueen.com. The project ended up winning several awards, including a BAFTA for best design. I like to believe that the magic ingredients in the project was that we adopted his extreme attention to details.
To me Lee Alexander McQueen was a source of inspiration. Someone who made his own path. Paved his own road. Took no shortcuts. He also managed to find a healthy balance of being both artist and designer. Which, sadly, isn’t the easiest thing to pull off.
One of my last projects at POKE was to design and build a tiny page for Motorola. The website ended up being quite a bit smaller, quite a bit different and took quite a bit longer to finish than initially planned. This is the kind of thing that might happen when dealing with large bureaucratic companies across the atlantic. However, the most important ingredient in this creative execution wasn’t the website though.
To demonstrate the features of the new Motorola E8, Poke enlisted the help of legendary mover David Elsewhere (to call him a dancer doesn’t really describe the half of it). We worked with Motorola to find a way that could combine content and product demo in a fresh way. Maybe even making it interesting enough that people might talk about (and distribute) a product demo…
And yes (before you ask); David Elsewhere has been used/seen in advertising before. Most famously the VW Golf remake on Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain dance. But browse youtube and you will find quite a few more.
To have a look at the website and the other four new videos of David Elsewhere visit:
Friday two weeks ago, 4th of July, was my 1727 day, and last, at POKE. For the day I made a special t-shirt to mark the occasion. A t-shirt listing the time elapsed since I joined in different formats. From top to bottom: 149212800 seconds, 2486880 minutes, 41448 hours, 1727 days, 246 weeks, 56.57 months and 4.71 years.
After 5 years in London. I’m leaving. I’m leaving POKE. I’m leaving London. I’m leaving England. I’m not leaving Europe, though.
Willow and I have had thoughts for quite some time about “going somewhere else for a while“. I, being half Swedish half Italian; living in England, have had the fortune of working and living in an unfamiliar culture and therefor find a lot of insight and enjoyment in the smaller things. Willow, on the other hand, is half English half American living and working in England.
When we’ve discussed about potential destinations we have loosely talked about New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Oslo, Zürich and Genéve. The tricky bit has been work and languages. I speak three languages (Swedish, Italian and English) and Willow speaks two (English and French). We agreed that for both of us to learn a new language would be too much of an undertaking. I think the strongest contender was Vancouver.
But then I suggested Willow should apply to a masters at Konstfack in Stockholm, Sweden… and she got in!
The program, titled Experience Design, is a interdisciplinary course over two years.
Sounds amazing and i’m jealous.
So, in August, Willow and I are moving to Stockholm.
We still haven’t found a place to stay. So anything is of interest. We are probably looking for something in the outskirts, but that’s cycling distance to Sodermalm. Preferable a part of a villa with a garden for the cat and parking for the car we are planning to buy and drive over.
I am also in need of a job. So again, anything is of interest. I am looking for opportunities to work with creative people on challenging projects. I am open to all possibilities, that require an experienced online / new media person. This includes, digital agencies, freelance, client-side and advertising agencies.
I’m really exited about all this. It definitely spiced up 2008.
Obviously i’m extremely sad about leaving all my friends and POKE behind. 5 years is a long time. You don’t stay in one place for 5 years unless you really like it.
I know from experience that it’s hard (or even impossible) to keep in touch when your living far apart, let alone in another country. It’s true you know — long distance relationships never really work out. My friends in Sweden know that. So does my ex-girlfriend. But with some people there has grown a special bond, and i’m sure that when i’m over in the UK, we will pick up where we left off as if I’d never even left. My friends in Sweden know that. Not sure my ex-girlfriend does, though. ;)
I’m personally not involved in this one, but many of my friends and co-workers are working their asses off to make this project happen.
The lead flash developer on the project, Derek ‘Dezza’ McKenna, told me at lunch time that this will be the last ever project where he incorporates a countdown on the pre-launch website – a countdown that simultaneously reminds him every time he looks at the site how the deadline is creeping closer and closer and closer….
tick tock tick tock.
playballoonacy.com will be special.
Through POKE I was given the lovely opportunity to work with the great people at Ottolenghi and help them to design and build their new website. When working for a medium-sized company such as POKE (approx. 50ppl), where larger clients take up the majority of studio time, these kind of smaller/independent clients and projects come as a long awaited breeze of fresh air on a hot summers day.
A few words on the design:
Working with the Ottolenghi brand was difficult — or maybe ‘challenging’ is the correct phrase. They are very minimalistic but still carry a personality. So the difficulty / challenge was to keep it very slimmed-down but still engaging.
The above screen is of the current homepage.
The design is based around a simple 8 column grid (show / hide grid). I decided to left align the page to give use of the browser edge for a “full bleed” photographic treatment. Another repeating photographic treatment is the overlaying and slightly anti-top-aligned treatment that can be seen on all top level pages (except the blog) and on recipes where images are in portrait instead of horizontal format.
A few words on the build:
Working with Nilesh and the “Death Star” framework worked out great. It made me hungry for more Model-View-Controller approached PHP and I am now looking into what codeigniter can do to please that part of my brain.
So, wrapping up,
I’m pleased with the result and the project was a real pleasure to work on. No other client has offered me such good meeting snacks and lunches as Ottolenghi.
One of the few downsides about working on this project was that it kept me constantly hungry. I thought that working on the GoodFood website last year had made me immune to fooling my body that the glycogen level of the liver has fallen and activating the hunger feeling by looking at food photos on screen.
Thankfully, in a few weeks, their new cookbook will be out (which I have flipped through and can confirm looks amazing) so that Willow and I can cook all the dishes I have been drooling at for the last couple of months.
For the 4th year running, POKE will have a stall at the V&A Village Fete. It’s always tons of fun, so I suggest you all cancel whatever plans you might have for Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th of July and come on down!
V&A and Scarlet Projects present Village Fete, the contemporary take on the traditional English fete. Over 30 of the most inventive and dynamic creative individuals working in the UK today come together to create an extraordinary array of stalls offering games to play and products to win.
Yesterday we atPOKE launched a new project. That, in it self, might not be a blog-worthy piece of news, but this little project includes a GPS device, four web-cams, a field divided into 80 zones, a bull called Derek, some Glastonbury tickets, a tiny sign-up form with an absolutely brilliant cognitive test and a Uniform Resource Locator:www.orange.co.uk/spotthebull/.
As a christmas present from POKE this year, Simon Ridgwell and I received a Ferrari Experience from Red Letter Days. People who know me know that I’m not only a huge fan of the Scuderia Ferrari (Formula 1 Team), I’m also a huge fan of the the main sponsor of the team: their amazing road cars, and that this present is realistically the closest anyone could get to giving me the perfect present without spending about Â£100000 (which would be overwhelming, but I wouldn’t turn it down).
It was something special.
As the title implies, I lost my license two days before I was scheduled for my mighty experience. I didn’t lose it on a traffic related incident, rather in a weird “Disappeared Along With My Wallet and Mobile Phone From My Fat While I Was At Home” incident… it is still not resolved (and probably never will). It looks like someone just walked in through the front door and picked them up from the table and left.
When I realised that the wallet was nowhere to be found, I got a cold-sweat whether or not I would be allowed to drive with no physical driving license, just a photocopy of the passport and driving license I sent to the Smile bank when I applied for an account.
It turned out that the people at Donington Park were very relaxed (and understanding) over the fact that I just had a black-and-white copy of my driving license.
Since it was a bit of a special day, and since Simon Ridgwell is a proud member of Classic Car Club, he decided to go there in style. We left from Hammersmith at 6.30 and arrived to Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit at 9:14, which gave us about 60 second to sign in â€” which was plenty, in a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit. To be honest, the gasoholic Rolls Royce probably shares more genes with his cousins at sea (boats) than it’s fellow friends on the road (cars). Smooth ride though.
Before we got guided to the track we had a short introduction. It was a brief outline of the day, some rules and some history about the track. Very brief but very helpful. What I didn’t know (and that was a pleasant surprise) was that they actually had a Formula 1 race at Donington Park, the 1993 European Grand Prix, which is mainly remembered for Ayrton Senna’s opening lap.
MINI Copper S
The first step was to learn the track, so we got behind the wheel of a MINI Cooper S for 15 minutes with an instructor. The MINI Copper S was a very pleasant surprise and a very very funny ride.
For me the first step was split into two parts.
- Learn to change gear with the right hand.
- Learn the track and drive it race-driver style and not road-driver style.
After the first corners, Redgate, going into Craner Curves, my instructor asked me, very politely, “Nico, have you ever driven a manual?” Obviously I wasn’t doing that great on point A. I told him, “Yeah, just need to get used to the gears”. Around corner 7, McLean’s, still on the first lap, he asked me again, this time with a bit more seriousness in his voice. “Nico”, he said, “are you sure you have driven a manual before?”. Then I just had to give the long explanation that I’m not use to having the gear stick on the left side.
On the third lap going into corner 4, Old Hairpin, I was already making huge progress, and about 3 laps later I was throwing the gears into place (mostly just between 3rd and 4th) and could finally focus on part B â€” drive the track like a race-driver and not a road-driver.
Towards the end of the session I was doing OK. But I wasn’t like, “get on with it, I know this!”, rather, “can’t I stay in the Mini for another 15 minutes?”
So, going into the single-seater I wasn’t that confident. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the most out of it.
The single-seater had the gear-stick on the right side, which was nice, but what a gear-stick…
The cockpit was tight. And everything was in “race mode”, with that I mean the clutch, the break, the throttle and the gear box were not very polite; they were very stiff and â€” you know â€” not very “comfortable” or “forgivable”. It took me four attempts to get the car going. It stalled 4 times. It wasn’t that embarrassing, it was more worrying to what would happen on the actual track…
But once I got going it was just fine. It wasn’t a comfortable ride as in leather seats and classical music (or lovely engine sound), but it was comfortable as in: this thing is stuck to the road. The max speed was (supposed to be) 145mph (234km/h). I don’t know if that was true or not. All the indicators in the car were switched off. On the Strakey’s and Weatcrof Straight it felt like the car had reached it’s full potential, and it didn’t give the sensation of 234km/h… maybe I’m just greedy ;)
Ferrari 360 Moderna
And then it was time for the finale â€” the Ferrari 360 Moderna. During the day the Ferrari’s had been on the track creating lovely acoustic, and every time they got on the straight you just had to look down towards the end of Weatcrof Straight. I’m sure it’s just a novelty, but the sound of the engine is hypnotising.
Im not unique being a great fan of the Ferrari road cars or the Scuderia â€” they are very easy to like â€” but Ferrari, to me, is something unique, and the more this world “evolves” the uniqueness of Ferrari as a brand and idea just grows. It might seem as an easy formula, but they do what they do with great passion, the heart in the right place and for the right reason.
The 360 Moderna had no clutch or gear stick, instead you, in true Formula 1 style, use paddles situated behind the steering wheel to change gear. This was soooo nice. I don’t know whether I would prefer it over a normal gear-stick on the right side (probably not on a race track), but now, sitting on the left â€” this was just perfect. Now I could focus on listening to my instructor, focusing on the apex and improving my driving.
It was magical.
I have no idea, and to be honest â€” I don’t care, what top speed I got up too. It didn’t really matter once you were out there. A) Because it did go extremely fast and the car just kept begging for more. B) It was more about getting the whole thing to flow smoothly and letting the engine sing. I actually didn’t look at the dashboard once during my drive.
To me, if somethings gonna be magical, special, unique; it has to have at least two reference points or units. Having a high top speed, being rich, being happy etc and so on, it’s not special or even a hard achievement; it’s when you add a second or third unit to the equation it’s get interesting, special, hard or admirable.
Having just a high top speed is a bit like buying a pair of “nice” and expensive sunglasses and not understanding that it is totally irrelevant how the sunglasses look on the shelf, it’s when they are resting on you nose in-front of you eyes that they should fit. Ironically, the sunglasses mistake is something Italians do all the time.
The biggest disappointment with the Ferrari was the amount of time I got to spend with it. Think we only did four laps.
As a bonus, we got 2 laps in a Lotus Elise with a professional race driver. He was good. Very good. Professional.
I wished I got this ride before going into the Ferrari… but I do understand why they give you this treat after. Quite sure that if I drove the same line as he did, today Donington Park would have one less Ferrari.
Before I post the last photo of me getting out of the Ferrari, I’d like to raise my hat to everyone who works at Donington Park â€” especially the instructors. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. A huge plus and many thumbs up.
And, to be honest, if I was the instructor in the Ferrari sitting next to myself, I wouldn’t have pushed or let me drive as hard, and fast as he did.
This past weekend, the entire company of POKE went on a city break together. Third year running, this little “company get away” has become a nice little tradition. First year we (then 12) went to Tuscany in Italy, last year we (then 28) went to Sussex in England and this year we (40) went to Llangadog in Wales (just west of Brecon Beacons National Park). I don’t want to compare them to each other, since they have less incommon than common. What they do have in common, though, is that they are a bucket full of fun.
Here are some links
The last of the three monster projects I was involved in during 2006, has been launched, so I thought I would present all three under the same post.
So in chronological order:
- topshop.com A huge e-commerce website. POKE designed and built the html templates that then was incorporated into a huge system build by IBM that goes under the name ‘webasphere’. The difficulties were to get the web page to feel fresh and still keep within all the heavy restrictions the system came with.
Read more about the website at Tom Hostler’s blog
- bbcgoodfood.com A website for an already existing magazine. This was a very intense project with almost no speed bumps along the road. All wireframes had been done. All content existed.
Read more about the website at Tom Hostler’s blog
- travel.dk.com Last but not least. A web site for the travel books published by Dorling Kindersley (DK).
Aside from the normal travel website stuff – browsing your chosen destination and viewing/reading about attractions – you can create your own attractions, print, download and share your own compilation or personalised travel guide.
This website is massive and includes a lot of good features. So, visit it, sign up and explore.
Read more about the website at Tom Hostler’s blog
So, we are now a few weeks into 2007 and it’s about time to look back at 2006 and see what actually happened.
Since I have had this digital online journal for almost a year (1st of May), 80% of what I’m mentioning here have already been documented earlier.
2006 for me started with coming back from San Francisco (where I had celebrated Christmas (in Lake Tahoe) and New Years (San Francisco) with my girlfriend Willow and her family) and began moving in with Willow to her flat.
During 2006 we had done quite a few improvements to this flat. First we extended the loft so the bedroom got a bit bigger, then we changed the flooring and built a loft bed in one of the bedrooms. But 2006 has just been the beginning… If everything goes as planed, during 2007 I will tell you all about the new kitchen, the new bathroom and the new staircase up to the loft.
I don’t talk much about work on this journal. And that’s not because I don’t do any work or that nothing exiting happens at work. No, the main reasons is when i’m not working, and sitting by the computer, I prefer not to talk, reflect or spend time on work related stuff.
I have been at POKE for over three years now, and during these three years a lot has happened e.g. we have grown 462.5% in size, changed offices twice, rolled out a lot of really nice work and won more awards than I can remember. So, as a big reward for our great achievements, about a month ago, we moved into 10000 sq. ft. of dedicated private space.
So 2007 surely kicks off big.
It’s a bit of a fresh start.
A new start.
Two of the bigger pieces of work I been involved in during 2006 was the new topshop.com and the GoodFood magazine website. Thanks to a brilliant team and exceptionally brilliant client, I can look at them both and be extremely satisfied.
Sport (F1 basically)
2006 brought me back to Formula One, and the 2006 season was amazing and it definitely made way for an exciting 2007!! The biggest news was of cause the creation of the new 10th of September tradition of German beer and spaghetti tomato sauce, a new tradition to salute and remember the announcement by Scuteria Ferrari of Micheal Schumacher’s retirement as a race driver.
So what’s the best album 2006… well it turns out being quite hard… all the ones I’d thought of, turned out being released in 2005! Such as With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails, Go Down! by David Sandstrom and Potemkin City Limits by Propagandhi.
Don’t know, was 2006 a dry year for people with my kind of music taste? What have I missed…
Born In The U.K. by Badly Drawn Boy, 9 by Damien Rice and Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of The Mountain by Sparklehorse are OK, wouldn’t go so far and give them the title ‘Best Album of 2006. (they have done better).
During the end of 2005 i decided to ‘grab myself in the collar’ and take care of the concert opportunities that comes with living in London. So I ended 2005 strongly with seeing Anthony and the Johnsons, Eels, Unseen, Randy, Flogging Molly, Millencolin and Jeff Tweedy, and have followed through into 2006. Some concert reviews pre this blog can be found on my last.fm journal.
2005 I also left The Above. Which means that during 2006 I have been ‘bandless’. Think that’s one of the main reasons I have managed to get up to so much stuff. I do miss playing though, and might just pick it up again in 2007…
Below is a list of the gig’s I went to during 2006. The absolute highlights was the acoustic Foo Fighters concert and the Tindersticks concert.
Jason Mraz, warm up by Raul Midon
The Mraz gig was probably this years biggest disappointment. Saw him preform an ‘absolute masterpiece’ two years prior, and this time he just managed to reach ‘average commercial ass-selling and record label selling shite’. He didn’t even get close to his potential and wasn’t even near to meet my expectations.
Willow almost passed out on this gig.
Iron & Wine and Calexico
Saw Calexico back in 1998 in a small pub in Stockholm, Sweden. Calexico 2006 is definitely another band on stage (in a good way). For Iron & Wine the venue was a bit to big.
One of the best concerts I’ve been to. Read more here.
Foo Fighters, warm up by Juliette & the Licks, Angels & Airwaves, Queens of the Stone Age, MotÃ¶rhead
The biggest concert I have ever been to. 85.000 people in Hyde Park. It was HUGE. Read more here.
Death Cab for Cutie
Saw DCFC twice in 2006, first in March and then in June. Tom Hostler took me along to the March gig, and since they were so damn good, we booked tickets for June gig as well. Read more about the June concert here.
As Billy Duffy changed guitar a few songs into the set, I told Willow, “That’s probably the nicest guitar in the world”. Then, on my 28th birthday, Miss W gave me Miss G.
The Rolling Stones
Tindersticks preforming their album Tindersticks II. Totally amazing. Read more here.
The most common ‘search keyword’ that brings traffic to this site is ‘songs about ocd‘. The search brings me on place nr 8 on Google and points to the post I wrote about this concert. Read the post here.
Tom Mcrae, Joe Purdy, Steve Reynolds, Jim Bianco
A weird 5 song mini gig at a small bar in Shoreditch.
David & the Citizens
I have never travelled as much during a year as I have done during 2006. The weird bit is that even if I have been around a bit, I manage to have 6 holidays left towards the end of the year, which leed to an extra week off in London. To prevent this from happaning in 2007 I have already booked off 15 days of my holidays, all 15 to be spend before the second week in March.
San Francisco, United States of America
Even though the year stared in San Francisco: The Lake Tahoe and San Francisco trip belongs in an non-existing 2005 review and not in this. But it [the trip] was very very nice.
We spent Easter in Paris. Which was a bit of a disappointment. Paris was not even close to what I expected it to be…
In May we went down to Rome, Italy, to celebrate my dad and his 60th birthday. It was lovely. Think the Paris trip made me realise how much i like Rome. You can read more about the Rome trip here and here.
Rosili Bay, Whales
In June we went to Rhossili Bay, Swansea, Wales, with David Marks. Read more here.
Went back to Skelleftea in the end of October to celebrate my sisters 30th birthday. Read more here.
Newcastle, United Kingdom
Similar to the midsummer tradition in Skelleftea, Thanksgiving is a trip to Newcastle. This year I made something special.
Dover, United Kingdom
This was just a one day trip down to the white rocks in Dover. I didn’t know that it was just an hours boat trip between Dover and Calais. The Freestyle song Dover-Calais make it seem like it is at least a few hours; since in the song they meet ‘somewhere between’. Read misleading lyrics here.
Anyone who ever meet or knew my uncle Antonio Nuzzaci will remember the end of 2006 as a very sad moment. During the early hours of Thursday 21st of December he passed away. This cast a shadow over the ending of 2006. Willow and I flew down to Rome to attend the funeral on the 22nd of December, and then we stayed in Rome over Christmas.
Last week of the year was spent in my parents house in the south of Italy. This might have been the last time we visited Viale Die Pini 18, since a few weeks back they sold the house and are planing to move up to Tuscany. Photos from the Italy trip can be found on Willow’s flickr.
Since the beginning of this week we [POKE] no longer live at the third floor of Biscuit Building – we have moved from a shared space on the 3rd floor to 10000 sq. ft. of dedicated private space on the 4th.
And… it’s wÃ¼nderbart!
You can find some photos of the new space at Tom Hostler‘s flickr photoset named Poke 3.0. My old desk-mate Dom Goodrum have also uploaded some photos onto his flickr account (yeah, that’s me in action and my beard looks fake!)
Yesterday, the 6th of December, on the very same week we moved upstairs, POKE turns 5 years old!!
Thatâ€™s one of the things I love about online. Things can just live on forever, getting discovered by new audiences up to years after they originally launched.
This monday (13th november), Global Rich List made it to the top of Digg.com, with the post ‘I am the 447,241,380 richest person in the world!, and later on in the week it’s number two on the ‘biggest diggs of the week list‘.
What is Digg?
Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on digg is submitted by the digg user community (that would be you). After you submit content, other digg users read your submission and digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of digg visitors to see.
What’s interesting is not the fact that Global Rich List is a good, simple and interesting webpage.
What’s interesting is not the fact that if you get high up on Digg you get loads of traffic.
What’s interesting is how a good, simple and interesting page such as Global Rich List get used by the users of Digg.
Thousands and thousands of Digg users have visited Global Rich List during the last few days, and none (so far) have donated money.
As always, it was a brilliant night.
Judging from the photo below, Willow, Gustav and I probably left the party a bit to soon.
They [Revolution Magazine] basically ask clients what they think of agencies and ask them to score them on lots of different criteria. Itâ€™s nice to be recognised by clients rather than peers or â€˜judgesâ€™.
This will be celebrated with style tomorrow night.