Living with Design

Recently I spent a wonderful afternoon attending Open Houses 2013. This is a brilliant concept being the major fundraiser for St Joseph’s Primary School in the Melbourne’s leafy suburb of Hawthorn. Now in its 34th year, 5 outstanding homes were open for viewing. As an interior designer, it is a wonderful opportunity to experience the design diversity of this year’s selection. Sprinkled in close proximity across Richmond, Kew and Hawthorn the properties included:

    1. Orb House. A strikingly bold transparent house by architect Bojan Simic, 2009. news.domain.com.au/photogallery/domain/the-orb-house-kew
      Orb House

      Orb House

      Climbing the white stairs through the garden, the visitor is invited into the light, airy spaces perched above street level. Using large expanses of frameless glass on the facade, the house is surprising private centered around a central courtyard.A curved wall running the length of the house and dividing entertainment areas from private spaces, softens any hard geometry. This house has energy-efficient infrastructure with 60kW of solar power generated daily, water tanks and of course energy-efficient glass!

    2. Barkers Road, East Hawthorn A modern 6+ star environmental family home. Double glazed windows and Hebel block construction ensures thermal comfort year round. The house generates its own power needs via solar panels and uses tank water from 75,000 litre capacity tanks.Love the veggie patch and the chicken coop!
    3. Marymeade, Hawthorn A grand mansion in the ‘modern Italian’ style built in the heady days of 1880s. Designed by renowned architects Reed,Henderson and Smart, the two storey house features stained glass windows, mahogany staircase, formal reception and entertaining areas. Imported Waterford crystal chandeliers match fine traditional furniture and windows furnishings laden with heavy swags and tails.

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      Typical Waterford Crystal Chandelier

    4. Huntingtower, Hawthorn A 1800s boom period grand residence by architect John Beswicke with a 3 storey viewing tower.Originally home to Salvation Army founder, Herbert Booth, it is now home to interior designer Caecillia Potter.This home has an eclectic personality punctuated with a mixture of modern designer furniture and 18th century fixtures such as the French gilt chandelier in the dining room. Packed with personality, my favorite space was the fun powder room with striped pink and orange walls and a multitude of white ceramic deer heads.
      Ceramic White Deer Head

      Ceramic White Deer Head

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      Huntingtower circa 1885

    5. Rowena Parade, Richmond My favourite of the day, this modern, luxury home over 4 levels is accessed via a narrow lane way. Designed by Neil Architecture and soon to be featured on Grand Designs Australia, the design features clever detailing and rooftop 360 degree city views. A handsome palette of strong dark greys, concrete, green and the warmth of timber give this home a welcoming character. Environmentally speaking, the large sliding windows and doors open up to allow breezes cooled over the outside pool to penetrate the interior. 10,000 litre water tanks and northern orientation provide additional environmental assets. Circular glass windows cut into the concrete living room floor deliver shafts of natural light in the billiard room below. This home has everything you could imagine including a lift, home cinema, 1500 wine cellar, gym, library and study discretely catered for on this 442sqm.
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      Rowena Parade, Richmond

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      Superb Ross Gardam Oak Pendants

I had a wonderful afternoon for $40 and enjoyed the delightful complimentary afternoon tea provided. Yes I’ll be back next year!!

Winning formulas for retail

Right now there is a new battle. The battle to win back the customer to the retail store experience. Online shopping is changing the way we browse and hand over our cash. It seems that many shoppers have had enough of the lack or expense of parking and scarce service and would rather wait for a package gifted to themselves via the mail.

There will always be shops of the bricks and mortar kind. But the shopping experience needs to change and provide value to the customer. Retailers will need to be certain of their brand, what it stands for and the experience it will provide. Particularly in fashion retailing, customers desire a 3D sensory experience.

Last week I attended a seminar (Artichoke Night School- Interiors for Fashion), exploring the ingredients to create great spaces that reflect the brand experience for fashion retailers. This is a topic so close to my heart as my passion is for developing brands through brandmark identity and the brand experience through interior design.

These are some of the important ingredients I gleaned from the session.

  1. Understand the brand. What does it stand for and reason for being?
  2. Design for store flow and merchandisecategories.
  3. Plan for future flexibility, seasonal requirements and visual merchandising.
  4. The interior design should transcend fashion and reflect the soul of the brand.
  5. Ensure a synergy between online and physical store spaces. They should work together.

Style Precinct is a multidiscipline design practice focussed on developing successful outcomes for developing brands and spaces they inhabit.

Thrilled to be a finalist

I’m very excited about being chosen as 1 0f 10 finalists in an international fabric design competition. The competition, Made in the Shade, is run by Dwell magazine for Lutron. Designers were asked to submit designs inspired by mid 20th century fabric designers who included favourites like Charles and Ray Eames,  Lucienne Day,  Arne Jacobsen and  George Nelson.

Fabric designs from this period incorporated dramatic saturated colors and bold motifs inspired by artists like Alexander Calder and Joan Miró,  transforming and bringing affordable contemporary art into people’s homes.

Based on the popular and universally known hand game, Paper, Rock, Scissors,  my design features organic forms with earthy colours and a rhythm of 3 motif repeat. Hope you like it!!

Fabric design inspired by mid 20th century design finalist for international design competition.

Noni Edmunds is a multi-discipline designer with graphic and interior design skills. Contact Noni at Style Precinct for design services.

Why you should become a green brand….

Do you want to be known as a green or brown brand? That is a question all businesses and their brands will need to consider at some point. I believe most of us want to do the ‘right’ thing and operate  in an environmentally sustainable way but how many businesses actually do? Many businesses perceive that it is a cost to become a certified green business. But does it have to be so?

  • Think of the money saved by operating more efficiently and using resources more effectively.
  • Create a point of difference for your brand and attract like-minded people to engage with.
  • Use social media platforms to publicise events and memorable activities which demonstrate you ‘walk the walk’ and are not just all talk. Share your green initiatives with your audience.
  • Can you become a market leader in your industry by embracing environmental credentials?

Here are my 10 tips for incorporating some green strategies into your marketing and communications:

  1. Choose your paper stock well Always use recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) products that are independently recognised for their practices for all your printed material. FSC products are recognised for their sustainable forest practices. If you have a quality brand and need to produce high quality printed material, choose a paper stock which includes a high recycled content (post consumer waste) and FSC content and print with vegetable based inks and aqueous varnish. Talk to your printer about what you want to achieve and ask for some paper samples.

    Print newsletter

    Printed on 80% recycled (post consumer waste) and FSC produced paper and printed with vegetable inks and finished with water based varnish.

  2. Printed Material Choose the purpose for printed material carefully. Choose a printer with eco credentials. ie clean production, sustainable business practices, supply chain procurement. Examine the possibilities of using suppliers with 100% waterless presses powered using 100% greenpower. Include a byline about the paperstock and method you have used to print on all your printed material.
  3. Promotional items If you are considering a promotional item as a giveaway at an event or function there are a number of eco-friendly products that can be branded with your logo and message. Consider how useful the item will be to the recipient and where it is manufactured. Did it travel half way round the world to your doorstep before you distribute it? Is it recyclable afterwards? I have used some of these ideas and have found some others including:
    – Fully recyclable plastic drink bottles
    – Paper stock embedded with native plant seeds. Read it, plant it, grow it.
    Seed sticks business cards
    – Shower water timers
    – Tubes of sunscreen
    – Non woven polypropylene bag or calico bags ( I reuse these over and over getting my groceries from the supermarket.)
    Bamboo desk sets, bamboo usb drives 
    Cornstarch pens, recycled pens and pencils. These options offer alternatives to plastic casings (which are fossil fuel derived) . The bio-degradability of the pen body can be compared to cardboard when composted, and there are no toxic or metal residues.

    branded products

    Bamboo - a renewable product used for branded products.

  4. Product Packaging Packaging design needs to be carefully considered to maintain a balance between protecting and securing the product with minimising waste in the packaging. Consider the materials used. Are they biodegradable or recyclable? Does the package allow efficient packaging for transport.
  5. Online Marketing An effective way of reaching your audience ( and reduce paper usage) is through electronic newsletters (eg MailChimp, Aweber) with links to your website or a blog. Provide content of value to your audience to build brand equity. Minimise your printed collateral by directing customers to the website and having a website friendly page on mobile devices. Make social media part of your brand communications strategy.
  6. Be Social Use of social media is a growing area for online marketing with Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube etc. increasing in popularity. Make sure you respond to all whether they are lovers or critics of your brand. Engage your audience and resist the temptation to sell on these channels.
  7. Events Ask your event provider about strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of hosting the event. Strategies may include reducing waste, recycling and reusing materials as options to offset carbon emissions and purchases of carbon credits. Consider public transport accessibility to the venue and include instructions for public transport on your invitations and electronically sent reminders.
  8. Act local Look at your local suppliers first. Become involved with your community. Being an active participant and supporter in your local community provides many personal and rewarding experiences. It gives your brand an opportunity to engage differently with your audience.
  9. Add green credentials. Start a program of improvement towards green accreditation for your business. Take the mini assessment at Green Biz check to get a taste of what needs to be done.
  10. Don’t greenwash Be proud to tell and promote your green activities and initiatives but make sure they are sound and any ‘green’ claims can be backed up. Greenwashing  is a term describing the deceptive use of green labeling or PR in order to promote a misleading perception of environmentally friendly business. This will only be harmful in the long run.
Of course marketing and communications is only one aspect to look at when introducing green initiatives into the operation of a business. All aspects including power consumption, waste management, supply chain procurement etc.  need to be examined to make a significant difference.
Noni Edmunds is a graphic designer and owner of Style Precinct design consultancy. Style Precinct provides graphic design, branding, copywriting and interior styling services to make your business brand and communications stand out against the competition. Visit www.styleprecinct.com.au to contact Noni for a free review of your business communications.
 

Express your brand personality

Developing a powerful brand is an important business tool to make you stand out against your competitors, build customer loyalty and sales results. An important aspect in creating your brand is to develop a brand personality. Personality puts ‘flesh on the bones’ of your business idea making ‘human’ to your target market.

Brand personality maps out how you talk to and treat your customers. I like to think about it in terms of what kind of voice does your person have. Is it fun, sexy or serious, and translate this tone of voice in your written communications.  What kind of personal attention do you provide and what do customers expect from you. Develop your action plan for when and how you will respond to enquiries and service problems. Defining a personality enables even the most boring products to become more interesting and a business that is in a crowded market with similar offerings to differentiate itself in a more appealing way.

Here are my top tips for defining your brand personality:

  1. Be sincere, truthful about who you are, what you do and why the customer should choose you.
  2. Brainstorm and write down words that describe what your customers first impressions of your brand should be. Here is an example of one I developed for BBQ on Q : modern, shiny, clean, designer, advanced, elite, luxury, pleasure, steel, stone, outdoor, alfresco entertaining, ultimate ,premium quality, endurance, skill, clever, unique, good-looking, architectural, valuable, asset, cocktails, technology, Australian, reliable, streamlined, stylish, relaxation, successful, professional  
    Note: I encourage you to take special note of the emotional connections you want to develop. Remember emotional values are the key to powerful brands.
  3. Look at your competition. Are you too similar? Choose a different angle and improve on the value to the customer from what the competition is offering.
  4. Visualise your brand as a person. Use the words you have brainstormed to build a profile of your personality. What age, sex, education, music liked, behaviour- cheeky, funny, serious, story to be told, colours and fashions will your brand project?
  5. Build a mood board to complete the profile. In the same way an interior designer puts together a moodboard to show a concept, bring all the aspects and inspirations together with cuttings, pictures, colour swatches, type styles, logos etc. Include images of your demographic or alternatively a picture of a personality/celebrity.

    creating brand personality moodboard

    Gather all your colour swatches, images, style notes, words etc together to form the personality of your brand.

  6. Brand personality goes hand in hand with brand positioning and the brand promise. Make sure they work together in harmony.

Noni Edmunds is the Director of Style Precinct- a design consultancy providing all the essential elements to build strong brands including, graphic design, copywriting and interior styling.  www.styleprecinct.com.au/branding

Golden rules for a compelling brand story

A struggle to achieve ultimate success, a lucky break, a chance encounter, a compassionate selfless helper or sheer guts to hang one’s neck out and try something different is a story hard to resist. Any one of these stories is engaging, emotional, memorable and something we identity with. Every business has its own unique story and way it operates. The ‘brand story’ is a powerful way to connect with your potential customers and make your business memorable in the marketplace.

Recently I watched the Lifetime movie,  Coco Chanel – a true’ rags to riches’ story. We all know of the Chanel brand and its associations with luxury, elegance and glamour. But this is a world away from the desperate up-bringing as a child in an orphanage and the poverty and hardship Gabrielle Chanel endured to become successful. Even when Chanel was a successful brand there were disappointments and disastrous new collection launches. Coco was able to reinvent herself with passion for her work and perseverance. The Chanel brand is much more relevant than a luxury clothing and accessories business when we know the personal story of the brand!

Chanel no 5 parfum

The signature scent for Chanel. The No. 5 fragrance is known as a brand in its own right.

 

Here are my ‘golden’ rules for communicating your brand story:

  1. Make it worth telling and relevant to your reader.  Place yourself in the shoes of the reader – Why should you care?  What does the customer need from you? Your message  should convey who you are, what you do and why they should do it with you.
  2. Have a strong ‘human’ dimension,  be true and honest. Manufactured stories won’t work!
  3. Tell something of interest, unusual or something helpful for your readers and relevant to the business promise you provide.
  4. Be in character. Don’t try to be something you are not. Use language and tone of voice suitable for your corporate identity.
  5. Be consistent with you brand ‘voice’ across the business from customer service, tweets, website content, print material and more.

Style Precinct is a design  consultancy helping businesses discover their brand stories. Style Precinct writes, designs and styles the essential elements to build a strong brand.

How to find the most powerful colour for your brand

 Colour is the ninth wonder of the world! It says so much  in a language without uttering a sound. Such a powerful design tool deserves to be used expertly. So how do you choose the right colour for your brand?

Pantone colour swatch fan
A Pantone colour swatch fan.

Here are a few of my tips when for making the right choice of colour.

  1. What industry is your business brand in? Is your business in the finance, industrial, residential, fashion, retail, educational sector? Each business sector has its own behavioural cues- a bit like body language. Everyone expects and understands these cues and they make people feel comfortable and reassured. For example the finance sector likes to been seen as conservative, solid, established and stable. The brand should convey these messages in an understated manner.  Good colour choices would be ‘business blue’ or muted tones like burgundy. Avoid pure and primary colours unless you are going for a ‘rebel’ brand look and feel with a business model that does things differently in your sector.
  2. How is your brand positioned in the market it competes in? Is it a premium priced brand or budget value brand? Use colour to help convey this message. Bright primary colours are usually associated with budget low-priced brands particularly primary mailbox red. Make your upmarket brand more luxe with a special custom or spot colour like ‘Valentino’ red. (See my comments on the recent Valentino exhibition here.)  Team your main colour with a wider palette to extend a mood or theme you are expressing with the brand.

    Valentino Branding

    The iconic "'V' of the Valentino brand which has its own custom colour known as a colour in its own right - Valentino Red. Picture taken at the entrance to Valentino exhibition at Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art.

  3. Is your brand competing in an overcrowded space? Sometimes it is sooo good to break all the rules! Make daring colour combinations or choose an unexpected colour none of your competitors would dare to embrace, ie be a ‘rebel’ brand. This can help get you noticed and make a strong point of difference.
  4. Meaning of colour. Colour has different meanings to different people across cultural boundaries. Even within one society, colours can have a different psychological effects across an audience. You need to think about the makeup of your target market and any differences in interpretation. Consider the tone as well as the colour. Warm colours (reds, orange, yellows) are associated with energy and happy emotions. Adding black, grey or a touch of cool blue to these tones will turn them into dingy shades that conjure up opposite emotions.
  5. Be consistent across a range of media. When you have decided on the perfect colour that expresses all the personality for your brand, make sure it can be reproduced accurately across a range of media. This means it needs to look like your colour on your website( RGB) as well as in your print materials (CMYK)  and from your desktop printer. Paint colours and fabrics are another consideration. Use a Pantone® colour which is a system of standardised colours for identifying, matching and communicating between providers.

 Check out this blog from Colour Lovers on colours that are the most dominant and powerful online: http://www.colourlovers.com/business/blog/2010/09/15/the-most-powerful-colors-in-the-world