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The Design Associates

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GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | Seattle

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | New York

The Design Associates | Tokyo

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

SOMETIMES YOU GO BACKWARDS IN TIME TO GO FORWARDS TO THE FUTURE. AND THE SYMBOLISM OF THE INTERLOCKING CHAIN OF MANY STORIES FORMS THE TRAIL OF A TALE, A NARRATIVE THREAD—WHICH COULD BE FROM THE PAST, WHICH COMES TO THE PRESENT, WOVEN IN THE INTERLINKED TELLING—THEREIN LIES THE LIEGE OF LEGENDS, THE METHOD OF MYTH, THE STORIED STRING. THESE ARE INHERENT ATTRIBUTES OF HUMANITY FOR ONLY WE—AS WE KNOW IT—TELL TALES.

An enterprise, a brand, is a story—as well you know. “I have this because I like the story, I believe in the person who created it, her shop, his manufactory, their agency. I believe in it.”

Surely not everyone pays so much attention to the maker of a thing, a brand; but in our work, we’re always looking for the story, since this is the binder that ignites an emotional bond between maker, brand and buyer. Ultimately, the personality of the creator is part of the DNA of the brand—and, like the symbolism of the chain, they’re intertwined. Working on brands between 700 years of age and single year old startups, they all have the same interconnectivity. It’s about a person, which lends to a legacy, which is part of a family, which leans towards a creation of a product, that brand. Which comes to—how will that story be told, what’s it look like, sound like, in what language will it be spoken and, most importantly, who cares to listen? From there, it moves to enchantment, engagement, and embracement.

These are the chains, coils, rings that sync and bridge
the connections of one to the minds of many.

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

In the meditations on the work, the practice of creating things that connect people, we’re constantly thinking about how those alchemical attachments and those stamped amalgams work.

As a designer, in making things that link people together, that admixture is a chainmail, a hammering of many rings that form the new idea—or the story that could be for just one person. That one person—in the chained linkage—holds that story like the ringlet of the personal place that rings round them. From this ring—the personal space, the circle around the person—there are places of touch that connect one to another.

That story could be just for one person — and they hold it, in their own way. But eventually there will be a retelling. The legend becomes a telling that is held by the many. That myth spreads generations of experience and knowing — and the telling is spilled as a mystery, one to another, one to many, one to one million — billions, later, know one version of the story that has been recounted in multiplicity.

T H E
E T Y M O L O G Y
O F T H E L I N K
Any link will be about the strength of that connection—how strong that forging, and the strength of the individual links in the armor of the mail—so to speak, allegorically. Link is an ancient telling. I go back; and in that meaning, I go forward—from the then to the now.
CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

Recounting the word, as an allegory of connection, begins at the bridge to the English language in the middle of the 15th century, “one of a series of rings or loops which form a chain.” It’s been suggested that this is derived probably from Old Norse *hlenkr (and by comparison—Old Swedish lænker “chain, link.” And the Norwegian—lenke, and to the Danish lænke). But the beginnings far more ancient; theorized by etymologists towards the seed language—Proto Germanic—*khlankijaz (as in the German — lenken “to bend, turn, lead,” or gelenk “articulation, joint, link,” and later, the Old English —hlencan (pl.) “armor”). The most ancient seed for the word sound comes from the mist of the Proto Indo European lexicon — the base: *qleng– “to bend.” These observations from Phil Harper. And he notes the word grouping—“missing link—between man and apes dates to 1880.”

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING
The Brynie chainmail of Bayeux Museum

The point of the study is the meaning behind the meaning—as in “what do you mean?”
And being designers, strategists, writers and those that reach into the ephemeral bridge between emotionality and conscious choice the character of the deeper meaning of words will transcend time and create links between
foundational ideas and the inspirations of their evolvements

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

The allegory of the link—even in the context of the ringing of armor—relates to the character of connection.
In designing a story, brand or otherwise, the nature of the telling finds a symbolic bridging.

T H E A L L E G O R Y
O F T H E L I N K
A N D
S T O R Y T E L L I N G
D E V E L O P M E N T

The chain, the ring, the rope, the knot—these are about forging stories as metaphorical connections from, and to, people.

What is the type of telling (riveted, butted, or welded)?
What is the material that is used (iron, bronze, or steel)?
What is the density of the weave? The tighter the woven character, the more “impenetrable” it is.
And the thickness of the “ring.”

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

Thinking metaphorically about what this might represent in terms of messaging and framing—would be:
• In building the bridging—is this story something that is a series of connected, attached (rivet) stories (social media ringing or digitally connected rippling)? Or perhaps one story fitting to another (butted), one story “chaptered” to another—like filmed branding (Vans’TV)? Or welded—one long storytelling, (Google’s Sheroes), that is relatively connected as a threaded framing?
• Materiality—whether iron (malleable), bronze (mixable), or steel (super “hard”). These might relate to the discipline of their making — one sequence might be more casually framed, another grouping could be combinant media; and “steel” might be a superstructure of highly organized media.
• The hardness of the ring? In any storytelling — there are tales that are synced to a precisely knit meme or grouping of people, adhering to self-held ideals. And then there are other tellings that reach out, the long running—to another great mass of humanity. How close the ring, and how hard its measure?

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING
Steel

The link is an element of human design, that might find inspirations in natural expressions and biological design systems (which are inherently more profoundly loose in their assembly.) The organic “ringing” is something that allows rings to fit together, in whatever magnitude might be discerned. And to that discernment—understanding these could be beyond the scope of our imaginings. The ring, the chainmail armour, the rippling of interconnectedness and interlacement—stories are alive in that they are human made. Humans touch them, share them, and they are influenced by their interconnection.

These symbolisms might be lost on the media planner—I’m thinking big picture.
Big story. Large idea.
And, to our take at least—what lies beneath.

And how beautiful is the chain of interconnection?

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING
CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING
CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

And like many stories—there could be an undercurrent to the chain running beneath—which is a story inside a narrative, which has another story above, and still another,as a person carries that legend forward.

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

The Nature of Interlinking, Knotmaking, Braiding and the Entwinement of Storytelling.

As a journeyer in brand, and the fire making of its fluency in community, I find myself in the study of the under-layments of how it works. As noted long back, it’s a storytelling string, and as many know—story and history are an intertwinement between the layering of memory and the journey of re-collection. When one thinks about their life, they go back and collect paths they have wandered, what rooms in their palace of memory have been opened, examined and explored, what has been stored — and, in reopening those rooms, what could be newly reviewed and explored.

Like the chain journal, a journey, the door opens anew.

In a manner, the very nature of writing in a journal becomes a kind of chain — since the intertwinements of a chain are transpositions of one idea, threaded to another, and another —
and they find their way,
as a sinuous layering,
knots and weaving,
from one opening point of discovering,
to another layer
and threading found.

The Chain Journal | Integrations
CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

Recently I tried climbing a rope—bare-footed, I could only go as high as my arms allowed. The old rope, un-roughened, didn’t allow for the grasping purchase of foot-strong gripping. So I used my arms. And what I thought about it was “this, a difficult chain, from one point to another—at once, bound on earth, and in another, a reach to elevation.

CHAINMAIL IS FOR STORYTELLING

The red threading is allegorical unto itself,
it’s a drawing—a stroke as one bridge to metaphor—and I’ve written about that earlier, but in college I studied the notion of catena aureathe “golden chain.”

In this document, authored by St. Thomas Aquinas, translated the chain is a calling from one level—the mortal souls on earth,
and heaven-bound—
in another journeying.

What does that mean to the layering of branding, personal journeys and storytelling? There is a chain that features the concretion of time in an earthly journey that then finds new relevance in an upward bound ascension. Like the principles of magic and its alchemical and transformational journey-making—the traveler moves along the chain to new perceptions and layerings of content—and that content finds a new shape.

Brands and design systems are transformational, and one might suggest that design—a signing—carries a viewer and listener from one point of learning to a new tier of insight.

Some thing sells, some story holds, an experiencer holds it and in that relating, carries that story —
as in “to relate” onwards to other relationships.

Our work becomes inherently that, the process, the how it’s done—the trans-positioning of perception [holding through] — from one tier of understanding [the stance between ideas] and the journeying forward.

That’s the work — perceptive evolution, then enchantment, embracement
and hopefully:
engagement.

TIM | OSEAN OCCULT + GIRVIN COPALIS
––––
THE STORY STRATEGY OF THE PLACE AND THE BRAND