NEWS

"  Circle Culture
MARCH 21 – 03

Learning from artists

Cross-pollination beyond product design

When we think of collaborations (in marketing jargon commonly simply referred to as “collabs”) between brands and artists, it’s probably the limited edition, that is, a brand’s most iconic product artistically designed by a contemporary artist, coming to our mind. With our division Art Collaborations (http://cc-artcollaborations.com), we target yet a broader field of cross-pollination between both worlds since we are convinced that, if we exclusively draw on art to design hip products, we totally miss the huge potential that the arts are capable of infusing the whole (corporate) organization with. From this point of view, art and artists are rather perceived as a highly valuable human resource that can bring nonlinear thinking, visionary ideas as well as an unbiased outsider’s perspective to all divisions and hierarchical layers of the collaborating organization. When we dive into history, the idea of a larger art leverage does not appear to be that new though: Already the Artist Placement Group that was founded in London in 1966, pursued the aim of placing artists in governments as well as in commercial and industrial organizations in order to provide the latter with completely alternative ways of seeing and thinking to rely on. The close cooperation between Jony Ive and Apple may serve as a perfect case in point here: Ive did not only design iconic products for Apple, but rather established a specific way of thinking, a proprietary language within the corporation. With Cc Art Collaborations we are committed to somehow revive the legacy of the Artist Placement Group by turning artists into real and strategic sparring partners at C-level that the whole organization can and should learn from.
"  Circle Culture
MARCH 21 – 01

Speculative Design

Zooming out towards preferrable futures

In today’s consumer research and innovation activities, the key focus commonly lies with the (lead) user and his/her problems, needs and desires. Yet, “focusing on the narrow goals of the user as it relates to the business as it exists today leads us to a narrow view of the opportunity space that we’re working in”, emphasizes J. Paul Neeley who understands himself as a speculative designer. Speculative design, that is sometimes also called critical design or design fiction, wants us to zoom out beyond user-centric design considerations and asks us to explore what effects our designs, innovations and products might have on future societies. To put it differently, speculative design is not primarily about problem solving as we know it from prototyping, it is neither about attempting to anticipate the future as we do it with forecasts, not it is about mere criticism. Speculative designs rather materialize in artefacts (e.g. a clock, an essay, a picture or a TV series) that help us think about how we wish to interact with our future environment and within our future society. Speculative design is thus not about reflecting on how to realize a (product/service) idea, but rather about reflecting on what world, society or community we would shape and produce if that specific idea came to life - and therefore on the question of how desirable that world would actually be. We at Cc have been using this approach quite successfully since many years now: By bringing visionary artists and transdisciplinary creative minds to almost each project that we have the chance to run, we always consciously zoom out beyond the known and the learnt in order to adopt a less linear rationale, thereby pushing innovations towards more whole, more comprehensible and hopefully more sustainable solutions in the long term.
"  Circle Culture
FEB 21 – 01

GROW

Highlighting the beauty of agriculture

Thanks to several projects at the intersection of biotechnology and agriculture that we had the chance to run with our clients Joyn Bio and Unfold, we could take a closer look at the current challenges and overarching issues that have been keeping the ag tech sector busy during the last years. The ever-growing world population raises the question of if and how we will be able to feed the billions of people to come. Traditional farming has long reached its organic limits. The all-determining efforts thus go into researching and hopefully identifying promising technologies that allows us to take the next step into a more sustainable ag and food production system. One of the key innovations that have defined the ag context and especially the realm of vertical farming in recent times constitute LED lights. The latter are not only able to provide indoor plants with the necessary lightening to grow and flower, but they make it also possible to reduce the usage of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. The project “Grow” by the Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde wants to actually showcase both the power and hope that LED lights hold in store for the ag scene’s future – for the planet’s future, for our future. For the Grow installation, Roosegaarde’s team has immersed over 215,000 square feet of leek crops in red, blue and UV LED light. They turn on the lights by night, thereby creating a poetic scenery of – to put it with Fast Company – “glowing creatures at the bottom of the ocean”. With our own cross-disciplinary consultancy service “Art Collaborations” (http://cc-artcollaborations.com), we at Cc are absolute fans of the both inspiring and instructive project: Grow does not only form a perfect symbiosis between art and science, but it also excels in demonstrating how scientific developments and breakthroughs can be effectively communicated by and through art.
"  Circle Culture
JAN 21 – 02

Clubhouse

Lifting audio content onto the next level

One of our latest consultancy projects allowed us to study in-depth how the most brilliant minds in science, impact investment and foresight search digest and use information both in their private and professional life. One of the key topics of the study was the identification of upcoming communication formats. Clubhouse, the invitation-only audio-chat social networking app that just launched in Germany when we had been finalizing our study, builds precisely on the appeal of audio content as a relevant information format, but adds complementary features that have managed to create real buzz around the application’s market launch. Instead of featuring conversations where the audience just listens – as it is the case with podcasts -, Clubhouse invites its members to spend time in a wide variety of virtual rooms where they can not only attend conversations on the most diverse topics, but where they can actually participate in the exchange and become an integral part of the live panels. Yet, despite the hype around Clubhouse, there are also critical voices who condemn the platform’s select, if not downright elitist approach: The invitation-only mechanism to grow Clubhouse’s user base would neither be contemporary nor appropriate in times that should rather be about social cohesion, integration and uniting efforts. We at Cc share these concerns, while still acknowledging both the power and fascination that originate from limited consumption formats – a tool that is still widely used for introducing highly anticipated sneaker models for instance and that is, on a communications level, just recently transformed into cherry-picked slack groups where likeminded opinion leaders exchange on specific topics away from LinkedIn, Twitter and the likes as we also found out in our study. Since we are sure that Clubhouse will offer access for all on the medium to long run, we are excited to learn how the application will manage to sustain its allure nonetheless.
"  Circle Culture
MARCH 21 – 02

Synthetic Media

A new narrative to emerge?

The current pandemic has put new spotlight on the potential of synthetic media, a technology that has been emerging over the last fifteen years – at first barely noticeably, but faster and faster since 2017. Synthetic media constitutes an umbrella term for all kinds of content generated or manipulated by artificial intelligence, often through machine learning and deep learning, and includes, amongst others, virtual assistants, chatbots synthesizing text and speech as well as virtual beings like, for instance, computer-generated Instagram influencers. While, thus far, rather the dangers, risks and downsides in relation to the technology’s manipulation and the production of deepfakes had been put forward, we at Cc currently observe the emergence of a new, more positive narrative around synthetic media. The latter would thus especially allow for the democratization of creativity through huge possibilities of experimentation. As a result, as highlighted by VentureBeat, “individuals will be able to produce high-quality content on minimal budget”. From a corporate perspective, synthetic media would present hitherto untapped opportunities, especially when it comes to diversity issues, like creating video content in multiple languages and skin colors. And also from a sociopolitical standpoint, the new technology offers promising prospects in countries where opposition forces want to attract public awareness to grievances through interviews and media reports, while wanting to protect their identities. However, as pointed out by the visionary and bestselling author Martin Lindstrom that we have recently interviewed for a global insights projects on media consumption habits, there is a crucial need for an ethical code of conduct and industry-wide standards in regard to consent and misinformation if we want to make these new media incarnations thrive. We at Cc could not agree more and are curious to follow up on whether this different narrative around synthetic media is here to stay.
"  Circle Culture
FEB 21 – 02

Momentum for Diversity

The cases of WhiteHouse.gov and Netflix

The return of hope that shaped Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on the 20thof January could also be felt when visiting the White House’s new website that went online the same day. Through light and friendly colors, structured and easy-to-find content as well as much free space the website communicates accessibility, inclusion and kindness. Under the creative leadership of Senior Advisor and transgender Robyn Kanner, the Washington-based agency Wide Eye has been responsible for WhiteHouse.gov’s revamping. The idea of inclusion and diversity can thus be understood as a theme that not only the White House’s website wants to stand for, but also the choice of creative agency that Joe Biden’s team has made when opting for Wide Eye. While looking at the agency’s team presentation, it is striking that four out of the five leadership roles are held by women. This case can be perceived as a signal that diversity, which has been of ever greater importance within our societies and overall policies during the last years, has eventually also spilled over into the consultancy and agency landscape. We are thus currently observing a dynamic when it comes to diversity and inclusion that gains momentum. Another case in point is Netflix that just published its first-ever company inclusion report. In an effort to serve entertainment for everybody, so far, Netflix has rather stood out thanks to its program that, from day one on, has been featuring films and series that actively reflect the values of inclusion, diversity and equality. Yet, they have been relatively late to the table when it comes to building up an internal structure that is infused by these very same values and principles. The appointment of Verna Myers as Netflix’ VP of inclusion strategy in 2018 represented a first step towards more diversity on the corporate level as well. We at Cc are curious to follow up on these cases that, hopefully, will flow into an ever increasing amount of lived inclusion at all levels of social, cultural and economic interactions.
"  Circle Culture
JAN 21 – 01

Aleph Farms’ Z-Board

Generation Z global advisory-board program

Earlier this year, the Israeli start-up Aleph Farms announced in a bold move that they have launched a so-called “Z-Board” – an advisory board that consists entirely of members of Generation Z. By including these young people under 25 into its senior management, the food-tech start-up, which grows meat from beef cells with the aid of a 3D tissue engineering platform, demonstrates its sincere respect for, and appreciation of this younger customer segment. The latter do not only show substantial buying power, but they are also perceived as most open to trying out lab-grown meat due to their strong ethical and environmental concerns. Instead of carrying out conventional consumer insights studies to better understand this young generation’s mindset, Aleph Farms thus prefers to directly join forces with this cohort and to have real and equal conversations with them. Or to put it with the company’s own words: Z-Board members will “be partners in Aleph’s vision of developing a sustainable food system and building a transparent relationship with consumers and young communities”. We at Circle Culture Consulting highly welcome Aleph Farms’ super smart outreach and are excited to see what will accrue from that visionary and unparalleled corporate strategy.
"  Circle Culture  Circle Culture  Circle Culture  Circle Culture  Circle Culture
NOV 20 – 01

BVG `Puzzle` Exhibition

Pop Up Art Show featuring Content-Creator Paul Ripke and Ravensburger

It was great to be part of this project as it illustrates how powerful it is to cross pollinate and share the most promising assets of all parties. Paul Ripke is one of the most successful social media activists with a fantastic sense for Zeitgeist BVG is creating smart below-the-line initiatives (that BVG x Adidas Sneaker was genius) to promote what is currently the most sustainable transport option Ravensburger provides a traditional game, that support our urge to calm down, self-reflex and be creative offline The result are three motifs that Paul Ripke himself describes as very personal: "Yellow subway, black tunnel and green tiles. What at first glance looks like monochrome surfaces turns out to be a profound examination of the essence of the city on closer inspection. Each motif is available in a limited number of 500 pieces per puzzle. And now the best part: 100 percent of the proceeds and Paul's fee go to the Kreuzberg Children's Foundation.