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We moved out of the Shop at Bluebird on 2nd January 2007. Christmas was a good test for us to see if we could handle high volume sales. We were very busy and have pretty much sold all our stock and are now working towards our next collection...working title
"Are you being served?" which will focus on services and connected appliances. (Yes this is a homage to the amazing BBC comedy I was bought up on as a kid in India)
We are also seeking colloborators who would like to work with us on the next level of DWB and our aim at challenging conventions around existing retail of digital products and services. So get in touch if you'd like to explore working with us on our next collection.
Couple of observations since our last collection:
1. As a physical space at The Shop at Bluebird, it was nice to see people walking up and getting pleasantly surprised to find us in a lifestyle store. Especially the way we had juxtaposed technology with fashion, furniture and books.
People told us they felt less threatened as it didn't smell 'technology' and we had managed to take it away from its usual connotations of "hard to understand", "complex", "boring" to "cool", "playful", "simple" and "discovery".
2. Also we observed the decision making process that goes into typical buying behaviours around when you buy something for yourself versus finding a gift for someone else. Helping people find the right gift for other people, based on what they told us about them was quite enjoyable. We also pre-packaged gifts for Christmas and wrote little usage stories to help "situate" the context of use for several products.
3. Personal one to one customer service and trouble shooting was another eye-opener. The last mile between the customer and using a digital product is fraught with many a pitfall that kickstarts from the time the customer leaves the store and tries installing products that require setting up. It was a good experience for us on educating an instructing customers on how to go about installing and setting up some of these products. This is one area where manufacturers and retailers need to work closely together to make sure the customer gets the best experience and ends up being an advocate of the service. We would like to focus more on exploring those types of partnerships this year.
So the launch is today. (If you want to sync this to your iCal/Outlook, do it from here.)
We have a pile of wood shavings which we got from this amazing company called Tree Care, as well as logs and stumps from culled trees which Tree Care supervises. The smell of wood is so lovely, it can transport you somewhere else.
Speaking of wood, Nicolas Roope from Hulger sent us these amazing photos of the wooden Hulger phones that just arrived at the Hulger offices. It comes with its own wax. He mentions -
The wax is so that the owner can keep the wood in good condition. The wood will improve over time i.e. "wear in not wear out" .
I love that. That's so cool. It made my day :) Its heartening to see interventions such as these Hulger wooden phones. There can be alternative ways of appreciating technology so it stays with you over a longer time rather than your standard upgrade 'em, throw 'em, fill another ugly landfill culture that most digital products are well-known for.
One of my favorites that we literally cannot afford showing is the "Endless Forest". A real pity, but we were hoping to have a chance to work with them in the future.
We share your desire to make technology as accessible as possible. And we appreciate your efforts to create a market for good-quality niche projects. We're sure we'll be able to work together in the future!
Sorry, again. Keep in touch, Michaël & Auriea.
We have been working hard towards Into the Woods...which is due to launch on Thursday 23rd November. It has been a very enjoyable experience putting together this collection. Pretty early into our research, Regine helped us out by publishing call for projects on WMMNA. We did recieve couple, unfortunately it wasn't possible to feature them in this collection, but we plan to make a repository of background research links for each collection.
So what can you expect in our new collection Into the Woods...
"Into the Woods..." showcases the sometimes weird and wonderful relation between technology and nature through a selection of products, software and art. The collection features digital products made with natural materials and software based on mathematical rules as discovered in nature.
Wait till you see Anthony & Simon on their iLogs.
We are having a world exclusive launch of the iLogs at the DWB showroom.
Don't know what an iLog is? See this video. MP3 manufacturers be scared, be very scared indeed.
You will have a chance to play on the laughing swing from Michal Rinot. Have a look at the video, you cannot not smile.
Even if you have never been into gardening or had no luck in growing much, Tree.Growth is a sublime installation by interactive media artist Jeremy Thorp based, on generative computer algorithms. Each print comes with a CD-rom to grow your own trees at home.
You turn creator by just standing in front of the camera, and the software takes the colours from your clothes and turns them into beautiful trees. You can get these beautiful graphic prints as a part of the experience and have Tree.Growth really push your new Macbooks with built in webcams to another level.
"Into the Woods" collection highlights:
- We are bringing Holz Kontor's exclusive range of carefully crafted computer displays, mice and keybords sourced from exquisite woods to the UK to dwb . There have been enough wooden and bamboo based computer accessories recently in the press, but Holz Kontor have taken it to another level by pure attention to detail and impeccable craftmanship.
- We will be the first in the UK to feature the Marcel Wanders consumer-electronic range together with Holland Electro. These will be exclusive to dwb. The wireless sound systems have been designed to resemble elegant wooden furniture pieces that fit in with contemporary interior design trends.
- We have a new set of intriguing Bless Cable Jewelry series, including wooden power extension chains
- Look closer at the leafs falling in autumn with The Microscopy Table by Vahakn Mattosian.
- The delicate Amadana earphones made with bamboo
- The Endless Forest: a unique online community environment by Tale of Tales, where each member is embodied by a stag by Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn. (Incidentally Entropy8zuper was one of the reasons I got into digital media 10 years ago.) Update: We don't know if we will be able to have Endless Forest in this show due to budget and logistic constraints. We are working towards making it happen, but for now it is looking unlikely.
- The Digital Stag Clock by Fly-pitcher a crossover of historical design references and hi-tech.
- The unique and highly individual wooden USB sticks from Oooms, no two are alike
- Individual wallpapers with wood-cut messages by Single-Tapete
- The mysterious glowing time of the To:Ca clock by Takumiresembling a plain wooden block.
Other exclusives to DWB
- Hulger wooden VOIP phones
- SMS mirror by Robert Stadler, Radi
- SoftwareArtSpace interactive graphic art
Available at the Digital Wellbeing Showroom our (complementary) range of gifts for Christmas
- Philips Digital Photo Frames
- The Roomba Sage vacuum cleaning robot
- Intempo customised DAB radios
- JeJoue programmable pleasure device
- Wattson Energy awareness device by DIY-Kyoto
- Visual Thesaurus software from Thinkmap, never be stuck for words again.
Join us for a walk Into the Woods
Working on our next collection and really enjoying ourselves.
Into the Woods as the name suggests is the next collection from Digital Wellbeing Labs that celebrates the cross-over between technology and nature showcasing well-designed sustainable digital products and services ... expect anything from wooden MP3 players such as iLog from Owl Projects (good competition to Microsoft Zune) to generative art, biological alogorithms and games that make you wander around forests interacting with moose rather than your standard fare 'driving' and 'shoot-em up' contemporary games.
We are also on the lookout for elegant software and services that are informed by 'nature, sustainability, making people aware of their own consumption patterns, making education fun for kids and adults while learning about nature and how we fit/contribute into the larger scheme of things'. Do get in touch with us.
Our next collection wil be launched mid-November, so keep yourselves free for an evening around then. Exact date and details to follow shortly.
Digital Wellbeing Showroom at night ...
So its nearly a month since our launch and its been amazing the kind of response we have had. Sarah Rich wrote about us in the Worldchanging blog on "Digital Wellbeing and deglamorising choice" She makes an observation -
"In our consumer experience, there are three things we value tremendously: choice, results and access. Each of these aspects feeds a cycle of spending, unpredictable satisfaction, and eventual disuse. Reducing overconsumption has to go beyond trying to make consumers want less, to giving their desire a new and more appealing target.
CHOICE: We feel a certain sense of power when we get to be selective. We want to be able to scan through hundreds of brands, and select a litany of special functions and features. Or at least we think we do. There are mounting arguments against this idea, suggesting that in fact our daily consumer decisions paralyze us and raise our blood pressure. But physiological effects aside, our purchasing patterns continue to indicate to manufacturers that the more choice a product offers, the more likely we are to buy it. iPod would be a rare example of a product with a singular offering that achieved phenomenal success, but even Apple has begun trying to hook new buyers with multi-functional models.
RESULTS: We have a perpetual tendency to conflate the outcome of an object's utility with the object itself. A classic example recurs on Worldchanging: Sometimes, we need a hole in our wall, so we buy a drill. But we don't need the drill, we need the hole. A system that offered the object on demand when we needed results would provide us with the hole but eliminate having a dusty drill sitting in our toolbox for 20 years.
ACCESS: We want our belongings at arm's reach on a moment's notice. There's safety and reassurance in ownership; it's the reason we buy the drill, and why we might even buy a shiny new model to replace the old one, despite the fact that they bore indistinguishable holes. It's one thing to recognize that what we desire is an end result, but another entirely to release our longing to be surrounded by all the means that take us to these ends. It's a deep shift that will lead us to long for an outcome, not an object. "
She then mentions how Digital Wellbeing is :
"developing systems and infrastructure that can unsnarl the consumer paradox and take simplicity and sharing into trendsetting domain."
By putting -
"heavy emphasis on the relationship between user and object, and the streamlining of options to facilitate more authentic customer satisfaction while marketing less stuff."
Sarah has captured succintly our remit and we are grateful for Worldchanging's support on what we are setting out to do.
One more thing we keep hearing is we are a cool designer gadget shop that's better than Colette or similar type lifestyle- fashion stores. The word "gadget" always makes me slightly uncomfortable. I have always found gadgets to be slightly besides the point, throw-away, and something that one gets weary of rather soon. Also, it has this weird odour of "made-in-a developing world-sweatshop" type feel. Everything that we aren't. So Alexander pointed out let's get down to the etymology of the word "gadget". It proved to be really interesting.
According to Wikipedia-
"A gadget or gazza is a device that has a useful specific practical purpose and function. Gadgets tend to be more unusual or cleverly designed than normal technology. In some circles the distinction between a gadget and a gizmo is that a gizmo has moving parts, whereas a gadget need not have them. For example, a nifty digital watch would be a gadget, while an analog watch would be a gizmo.
In contrast, a device of clever design that has no practical purpose is called a novelty item."
Wikipedia site the Apple iPod as a "popular gadget". Personally for me the iPod and iTune is a an ecosystem of a set of parts of which the physical iPod is incomplete unless it is connected to its umblical software-iTunes. The complexity of interactions within the iPod and iTunes is staggered in a way whereby a lot of the heavy-duty interactions is leveraged on iTunes, leaving the "gadget" iPod to be pretty simple with its browse' framework.
I have been reading Maeda's Simplicity rules and bumped into him at the Philips Sense and Simplicity event hosted early October. He makes some good observations on the use of gestalt in the iPod product design. I should probably write a separate entry about the whole Philips Sense & Simplicity event".
Getting back to the definition of gadget. It gets historically more interesting-
"The etymology of the word gadget is disputed. Some sources say it was "invented" when Gaget, Gauthier & Cie, the company behind the casting of the Statue of Liberty, made a small-scale version of the monument and named it after their firm. Other sources cite a derivation from sailors' terminology; the French gâchette which has been applied to various pieces of a firing mechanism; the French gagée, a small tool or accessory; the French engager, to engage one thing with another; or even a diminutive of the Scottish engineering jargon gadge, a form of measuring device. The spring-clip used to hold the base of a vessel during glass-making is also known as a gadget."
Reading that made led me to believe that 'size' seemed to be important to the gadget-ness of a gadget. That notion was soon put to rest when I read the next line...
"The first atomic bomb was nicknamed the gadget by the scientists of the Manhattan Project, tested at the Trinity site."
So the term gadget was definitely lost in that particular instance as it didn't "have a useful specific practical purpose and function" as per Wikipedia's previous definition.
In fiction, gadgets are best known in popular spy films, especially in the James Bond series (See List of James Bond gadgets). Superheroes, especially ones like Batman and Iron Man whose premise revolves around equipment, have numerous gadgets themselves. There is a cartoon character, Inspector Gadget, whose super powers come from an assortment of gadgets. Also, one of the main characters of the Disney cartoon show Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Gadget Hackwrench, possess an innate ability to create tools and other technology out of trash and junk.
Occasionally, "gadget" may be used as a placeholder term by an economist discussing a hypothetical situation as the competitor to a widget."
There you go, its enlightening when you try to get to the bottom of things and discover there's so much more to a word than what you thought it stood for. Also a month on after we started the showroom, We have been covered in a number of blogs and were recently covered by Sky TV where they sent Jemma and Jodie Kidd to shop at our showroom. We have had a steady flow of customers ranging from 9 year old school-girls who drop in after school to play with our software such as Visual Thesuarus, and play once more on the Troika music box to celebrities shopping for Nabaztags and software art. We have had people revisiting us and looking at our products and services multiple times. So much so that now we know some of them quite well :)
Here's a list of couple of blogs that have bee writing about us:
we make money not art: Interview with Tom Igoe ( Tom has been our soundboard and wellwisher from the start. It was great meeting up with him at the NY ITP show earlier this year. Also we had some amazing mind-altering martinis together in this bar around ITP. It was called Angel something. The best martini place ever, straight from a David Lynch film)
Chris garrett media One of the best developers I have worked with.