Thursday, 27 October 2011

Innovative and knowledgeable: Interiors companies' networking day 20 Oct

Post Kathryn Burns and photos Chris Webb
Over 30 interiors companies from the Interiors & Lifestyle Futures community got together on 20 October for a day of networking and shared thinking with experts in high-value contract and domestic interiors markets.

Delegates at Interiors & Lifestyle Futures'  high-value interiors event

The event took place at the Birmingham office of Aedas and included an interactive workshop  where attendees explored opportunities for accessing high-value markets.

Speakers & topics 
Phillip Handley, specifications director at Johnsons Tiles talked about  how adding a range of high value tiles and persistence  have helped penetrate new and lucrative markets.

Kevin Singh, described how his practice,  the space* studio, has developed relationships with West Midlands suppliers and customers to create innovative and successful interiors solutions.

David Rowe, a West Midlands furniture designer presented  his experience in a collaborative project to develop a new chair for educational environments. External forces such as a new European standard and technology changes combined with 30 years of seating know-how had influenced the development of a fresh and successful design.

Marcus Wilkins and Joe Huddleston,  Aedas provided a global trip through recent projects and gave an insight on how lessons learned worldwide are brought back into their UK work.

"Insightful, educational and motivational"

 Some feedback

"Very useful understanding of key criteria/specification decisions made by architects"
Chris Edginton Mobius Living Ltd

"Most useful finding a collective of people who can help each other  develop their businesses and networking"
Penelope Jordan, 3D Textile Artist

"The talks were insightful, educational and motivational. The other attendees were innovative, interesting, supportive and knowledgeable."
Katy Helps, Love Me Interiors

Thanks to Chris Webb Photography for the excellent photo record of the day.

Delegates at one of the interactive workshops at the Interiors event

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Playing the brand game

The Independent's SME section recently carried an interesting article drawing a comparison between game playing and branding. We'd like to share it with our Interiors & Lifestyle Futures companies. Author Rishi Dhir defines five principles to a successful brand and we've given edited extracts below plus a link so you can explore the original article.

" [The] core ideas of satisfaction, engagement and addiction [of competing in games] are similarly the holy grail of brand building and in recent years brand owners have applied the principles of gaming to enhance the brand experience. Boiling it down, there are five core principles that brands have borrowed from the gaming fraternity.

Make it challenging
Nike ID is a great example of the concept of challenge applied in the brand context: customers are given the tools online to design and create their own shoe, choosing the style, material and colour. Even though it's far easier to buy a ready-made (and probably better designed shoe) off the shelf, the task of building your own is somehow far more involving and satisfying. Nando’s challenges customers to avoid getting the hottest piece of peri-peri-coated chicken in a game of ‘wing roulette’.

Make it competitive
Ebay uses the idea of competition in its online auctions. By getting customers to bid against one another to ‘win’ their chosen product, they’ve injected fun and a sense of rivalry into the buying process.

Be the Best
Make it rewarding
Fiat’s Eco-Drive technology is [an] example: the system analyses driver technique, and gives a score on an eco-index, marking the drive out of 100. It provides tips on how to change braking, acceleration, gear changes and speed in a step-by-step tutorial to help drivers improve their economy. The system lays down a gauntlet for the driver to improve their driving style; the reward being the sensation of mastery, the knowledge that they have positively contributed to the environment (in some small way) and lower running costs.

Allow continual discovery
The best videogames take the player on a journey of discovery by providing an ever-evolving environment....... Even apparently 'simple' games, like Suduku, with a virtually infinite number of puzzles of varying levels of difficulty offer the gamer the opportunity for endless discovery.

Facebook and Amazon keep customers in a perpetual state of discovery. Whether it’s to stay in tune with what your friends are doing, or to discover a new artist, movie or book, as a result of a targeted recommendation based on your past purchases, the content is continually updated to stay fresh and exciting, which keeps users coming back for more.

Fun, games and branding

Incentivise collaboration
Online games, such as World of Warcraft require players to collaborate with one another, forging alliances and developing common strategies to overcome the enemy. The game itself is essentially reduced to a platform of rules and parameters, where success can only be achieved through co-operation with others. The environment encourages dialogue and creativity, both of which are intrinsically rewarding.

Groupon applies this principle beautifully: it encourages people to ‘buy together to save together’, collectively benefiting from lower prices on restaurants, spas, and other leisure activities in their cities. It works on the premise of bulk purchasing power and the whole idea of buying with your friends, makes the experience far more engaging. "

To read Rishi Dhir's complete article, please go here The Independent SME Now here

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Deadline extended- win your own pop up shop in Brum City Centre

We've recently learnt of this wonderful opportunity from the online Birmingham Post, which should appeal to our Interiors & Lifestyle community. If you want the chance of your own free shop, you've now got until Friday 17 October to get your application in.

"The Square, off Corporation Street, is running a competition giving fledgling retailers the chance to run a store at the shopping centre from the end of October right through to Christmas. The winner will not face any bills for rent, rates or utility costs.

"They will also receive mentoring from owners of other shops within the centre, along with the Square's management team.

"Anyone wishing to take part in the competition should log onto before the competition deadline of Friday 17 October, explaining their business idea and why they deserve the opportunity to win.

"A group of experts, including the Birmingham Mail’s Consumer Editor Emma McKinney and Paul Lewis, manager of The Oasis fashion store in The Square, will then review the entries before whittling them down to a short-list.

Those short-listed will be invited to pitch their ideas in a Dragons’ Den-style interview "

Read More Birmingham Post

An exhibition celebrating alumni of the School of Jewellery, Birmingham 1971 to 2011

Post Kathryn Partington
Terry Hunt has created an exhibition of work by selected alumni to celebrate his 40 years involvement with learning and teaching at Birmingham City University's School of Jewellery.

Exhibitors include designers, artists, makers, gallery owners, academics and retailers from all over the UK, as well as Germany, Italy, Norway, Israel, South Africa, USA, Chile, Thailand and China.
Each of the 100 exhibitors is represented by two items – one student piece and one more contemporary.

 Just a few of  the products by alumni from Birmingham City University's School of Jewellery
The exhibition is a brilliant confirmation of how the School has helped encourage links between creativity and entrepreneurship over the last 40 years; showing its significant influence not only on the business of craft and product in the West Midlands but also throughout the world.

Duration: 24 October 2011 – 25 November 2011 (Weekdays only: 10.00am – 4.00pm)
Free admission/ Catalogue available

Address: School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University, Vittoria Street
Birmingham B1 3PA
For more information see: