“Japanese farmhouses are dark. Gradually, you can start seeing. (I have never seen cross beams like that before. Wow…) Spacious, and very high ceilings… ‘This is great,’ I thought. Just instinct. The aroma of this house is beautiful. Smell of the earth, smell of the wood, smell of the smoke, a little bit. I felt life, very healthy life, being led in that space.” -Yoshihiro Takishita
Priorities, and building your house on a rock
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about permanence. Humanity seems to find itself in a constant state of frenetic forward motion, trying to figure out what’s next and how to use it appropriately, which results in a rapid path from bubble to bubble through the modern age. This is especially easy to see in our field of design and branding, where the idea of “design” has already become so intrinsicly linked to technology that it’s difficult for the layman to separate the two concepts. Last week I was involved in a conversation about relevance, and if it’s possible to stay relevant long-term in the design field as it stands now. How can we possibly keep up with all of these new platforms and behaviours that we’re expected to master and then quickly move on to the next big thing? It seems unsustainable.
A Brief Aside:
After watching the Minka film, I took some time to consider a few questions that I definitely did not ask myself while watching it:
• Who made the hammer that built that house?
• What kind of hammer was it?
• What was the hammer made of?
• Was the hammer compatible on an Android device?
We forget that technology is a tool. Almost everything that we talk about at industry conferences today revolves around “the future of our industry” or “the mobile marketplace”, which is relevant, but it isn’t permanent. The key to remaining relevant in the branding industry isn’t just understanding technology. It’s understanding people. It’s understanding truth, history, and stories. Our job is to create things that speak to the core of the human sprit, which is why so many of us struggle with purpose. How are we even supposed to do that?
But the fact remains: that’s what branding is. It’s easy to be driven by commerce, and driven by conversions and technological fads, but if your brand isn’t built on a solid understanding of how people relate to the people, places, and products that they interact with, then it’s destined for a short life.
(Even the people who build McMansions and the latest in urban upscale condominiums with a mediterranean theme probably have a pretty good handle on how to use a laser level and hammer drill.)
Good brands are built to stand the test of time, and be flexible enough to remain relevant and beautiful, even as the technology and platforms change. They’re a reflection of how people see the world. So, as long as we understand people, craftsmanship, history, nature and the role of materials in tools in the whole process, then we should be fine as creators.
So, let’s all try and fill the world with Minkas. Just don’t get hung up on the tools, because no one will remember those.