A Place has a Pattern,
a Brand has a Chromosomal Character, That is Evinced in Visual Language; and so too,
Language is a Patterning.
I’m looking for patterns; I’m always looking for the patterning of things that I know on the surface, and the patterns and undercurrents of thinking, emotional or metaphorical, even symbolic layers that lie beneath.
We know that people react to experiences emotionally —
“I don’t like this place,
I don’t like being here;
I don’t like that person;
I don’t like that product or brand.”
It’s not analytical, it’s quickly reactive.
It might be that there was one point, one tipping experience that floundered the relationship. Once, on an even and potentially positive keel, moving forward, it was disrupted — and people hold to those memories; one bad experience can darkly taint years of many positive ones. Same with people — “I admired that person for a long time, then…”
I study how people hold their relationships, to each other, and to enterprises and experiences that mingle, intertwine, and collaborate with people. Being a designer, the notion of a story told is one part of that — but in that telling, there’s more in the minutiae of how people get things, how they hold things, relationships, ideas and experiences that are perceived as relevant, resonant, and powerful connections.
Working at a global retail strategy summit in Istanbul, for the last several days, I was curious about the idea of patterning language in brand experience. When you think about a place that you’ve been, you’ve admired — a store, for example — there’s a code that holds it together; that brandcode® or patterning acts as a kind of particulate, molecular evidences that whirl, like the metaphor of an electron making up a perception of an object — being there.
to our thinking, in patterning, would be:
spirituality — what is the spirit of the place, culturally — the vibe, how are people treating each other?
materiality — what material is used in the environment in a manner that is distinct and brand own-able?
illumination — everything works in the context of light; you can see well, right; or you can sort of see, in a manner that a story could be perceived — or you can barely see at all. Obviously, it’s not only about lumens, but it’s about how that telling is “lit” — warm, cold, sun-shined, clinical, white-washed, splashed with color, softly understated, gray?
There is a broad vocabulary.
structural detailing — a place can be built with elements that touch the strategy of how that place is organized and detailed — a sculptural touch and form language can be found in the fixtures, wall treatments, segmentations, and “flattened” a patterning language that filters into a myriad of potentials.
sound — the character of sound could be to the quality of reflectiveness, the idea that sounds “bounce” in a livelier manner, to place; or it would be about a quality of sound design and musical inference. What notes, what melody, what quality? Sound doesn’t need to be thought of as music along, but could be mnemonic samples.
graphical messaging — there can be a hidden code, deep inside the brand — words, details of identity, hints of graphical storytelling. What I think about is, in that journey: what hints, archetypes, metaphors, symbols could be identified as part of that character?
We did that here,
with Dawn A. Clark AIA, LEED AP — two layers of storytelling; gingko and cherry blossoms:
The whorled wave patterning — the Javanese royal patterning of the parang of Harvey Nichols, Jakarta — also with Clark and her team.
Merchandising studies and implementations which build on the foundation of parang symbology.
(Chris Eden © Callison)
We’ve studied this notion in detail — branded environments that pull code from the symbolic heart, or soul of the brand, and link them into layers of experience touching / holding points for collaborators and experiencers of the place.
When we began the development of a symbolic, architecturally integrated brand patterning language, we went to the nearest Harvey Nichols we could find – that, during that time, being Istanbul, the Kanyon Harvey Nichols. What captured my attention then, and now, is the idea of finding a genetic code, and repeating it naturally, organically — like a chromosomal patterning that then becomes another, and another, layering our in a manner just like how chromosomes and genetic characteristics continue to evidence themselves — in plants, animals, humans. A core symbolic language flows out, a red-threading, from the opening to the interiors – one code, that finds itself building outwardly and inwardly — subtle, or obvious, it creates a genetic substrate.
The Brand patterning of Kanyon’s Istanbul Harvey Nichols
Kanyon, the Mall
The store and the patterning story:
People notice subtle, small, as well as the overwhelmingly startling and spectacular. As a watcher of “experiencers” — from P&G to Starbucks, from Bloomingdale’s to Nordstrom — I study how people trail in their impressions. Coding is a hint to meaning. And people, everywhere, are looking for the step back from superficiality to something deeper.
I spent time — during the Global Department Store Retail Summit, Istanbul, 2013, with Cem Boyner, the familial strategist and stakeholder of the heart of the brand, its community and relationships. On a tour, we explored his Beymen, an upscale journey — here, subtly, too, the notion of a patterning language, a reflective angularity played out the upscale character of the experience.
From Istanbul, a telling:
Being in Istanbul, part of any journey will be about the spiritual, the depth of the spirituality in place — and then, too, the flashier options of retail, retelling the stories of its modeling in community, relationships and happy buying and sharing — collaborative — experiences.
My days before the event studied that — one pattern, on another, and another — geometry — and the strategies of design genius, Mimar Koca Sinan, symbolism, scripted calligraphy and spectacle: meaning in the writing, and symbolism inside that writing.
Patterning and sacred place
Walking the mosques and other sacred spaces, I looked for layers of patterning, which might be the bigger sense of enlarged design, or it might be the smallest detail — whorls, worlds and whirls, knots and concatenations, plait work and mandalas of patterning, script and interlaced designs build a formatting that is nearly hallucinogenic in the transparencies of meaning, wonder and memory in what can be scene, in seeing scene. Imagery, a gathering, here.
My journey is the quest for meaning, in beauty —
that story found, that story told.
What is the story, who’s telling it,
what does it look, feel and sound like —
and finally, can that story be held, embraced?
That, inherently is at the heart
of all Girvin work —
the soul of the story,
its meaning and unforgettability.
Tim | Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Türkiye
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