Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Four Years. Go.

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010


I like this. And I told a few people about it. I was told by one person that only government and power can make the change necessary to save our planet. I will disagree. This is not a black and white issue. There is no single “only way”. Yes, government and power-brokers need to make changes. But I do believe in the power of living by example and voting and shopping with your conscience. I have made significant changes this year. They’re not going to end global warming, feed the hungry or eliminate child poverty and prostitution. I grow much of my own food in the summer. I compost and recycle. I got a much smaller car and use transit almost half the time now. We buy less meat. We only buy organic free range eggs and try to buy organic meat whenever we can afford it. I’m not “living off the grid” as my esteemed colleague Robert L. Peters is doing, but I did look at wind turbines today….(OK, maybe that was going a bit too far).

My actions influence the actions of my family and friends. They see what I’m doing. Even if they “think” about it, that makes change begin to happen. When they change, those around THEM will think about it, etc. That’s what Earth Hour is about. It’s a tiny tap on the hull to start moving the ship in the right direction. With enough tiny taps, this ship WILL move. I like Four Years for this reason. It’s consciousness raising, it’s a start.

It’s a tiny tap on the hull to start moving the ship in the right direction. With enough tiny taps, this ship WILL move.

We can grouse all we like about the fact that someone else should be doing something about “it” or we can get off our holier-than-thou asses and begin to make change happen. If we are more conscious as a society and we’re doing our part, we gradually stop buying what the power-brokers are selling, both literally and figuratively. If they don’t do what a more motivated society wants, they will be voted out or put out of business. That serves as motivation for THEM to make change, too.

The end.

THIS is fascinating. Where our world is going…very fast.

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The Designer as a Grain of Sand

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Much as many clients might think or hope, a designer’s role is not to take orders and be a servant to their ideas. Rather, it is to be like a grain of sand to an oyster, a mild irritant that has the potential to yield exquisite beauty and great value. I’m sure, this type of thinking would annoy many clients or out and out piss them off, but I got to this place by the simple act of sitting on our patio having dinner with my partner and wife. The cushion on my chair, by any stretch of the imagination just did not cushion. Now, I don’t know about you, but I always thought that the job of a cushion was to — duuuhhh cushion, — some poor soul’s bottom after a hard day’s work, whether he was downing a pint at the local pub or having dinner with his wife at a restaurant. And it got me to thinking. How could anyone design (”I have an idea”) and manufacture ( “how will it be built?”) a cushion that simply doesn’t cushion. And that led me to why a lengthy design education is necessary — if not mandatory in today’s marketplace.

I was mentoring a designer who, after working for several years, still seemed to get many of her ideas sabotaged. I explained that today, it’s common for designers to have three to six or more years of education and it’s not about learning software programs. It’s about being a grain of sand, asking questions, investigating and asking more questions because it’s the questions that supply the magic, or the answers hidden away, silently waiting to be discovered. Some people give up too early and some bright souls get there sooner that others, but in almost all cases, it was some sense of discovery that helped inform a solution. I’m always reminded of the joke “how many designers does it take to install a light bulb?” Answer: “Does it have to be a light bulb?”

It’s almost a forgone conclusion that designers entering a design program will already know how to use many of the basic software programs. Design thinking is not learning to use software, but how to examine, research and explore ideas — evaluate them, critique them, beat the hell of of them, discard the bad ones and refine the good ones. This takes two, three or more years to learn, and a lifetime to perfect. The designer as a grain of sand would have said, a cushion should cushion and if it doesn’t then what the hell is it?! Somewhere along the way, some designers give up, or maybe they are just too afraid of confrontation. Like many people, it’s just easier to do nothing or go with the flow, or not upset the apple cart. A lengthy education does (or should) attempt to help designers better articulate their ideas, building a sound argument for solutions. Ideas need to be nutured, but at some point defended, with reason and even science. Many designers get their work shredded simply because they lack the courage or the education with which to defend an idea. Experienced designers have to ability to make products or services incredibly rich, rewarding, and entertaining experiences that are legendary. And yet the idea and role is so misunderstood, which may explain why there aren’t more companies like Virgin, Apple, Audi, Disney or Nordstroms.

Like the lightbulb joke, a designer’s most valuable skill is when he or she acts like a grain of sand, questioning everything, and in the process has the ability to create a beautiful pearl of an idea that becomes a better computer, a better airline, a wholesome family adventure, an iconic retail experience or potentially a better cushion.

Ray Hrynkow, Partner + Creative Director
Herrainco Brand Strategy + Design Inc.

The Vendor-Client Relationship

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

I can’t resist posting this. It’s not just us…every design firm has this issue. It appears to be unique to our business. No other profession seems to have to deal with people who feel that this is legitimate way to do business. The Vendor-Client Relationship.

An Open Letter to Plum Clothing

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Frankly, I’m disappointed that a successful local company such as Plum Clothing would resort to the cheap tactics of a design contest. What it clearly conveys is that Plum lacks faith in the local design community, comprised of many respected and internationally award-winning designers who have made a lot of money for clients like Plum. The low fee suggests that Plum feels that this is fair compensation for the work, and something designers will jump at. And I suspect they are right — they will attract young, inexperienced or amateur designers who no doubt might think this is fair, until they learn more from their peers. In the end, this really reflects on Plum’s ethics, behaviour and lack of branding knowledge. Why is it that an American retailer like Saks 5th Avenue will hire a local Vancouver designer to launch a whole campaign, while local retailers still want to play the competition game. I can’t say I wish you luck.