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Seven Questions for Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott

avianca id
Lippincott worked to unify the brands of merged airlines Avianca and TACA. The three-year project culminated in the recent unveiling of a bold new visual identity.

rick wiseWith a client list that includes 3M, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt, Samsung, Starbucks, and Walmart, Lippincott has spent the last seven decades combining strategy and creativity. (The recent brand face-lifts of Stanley and eBay? All Lippincott.) At the helm of the firm, which is part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is Rick Wise, who oversees innovation in Lippincott’s design and strategy practices while also advising clients on their branding issues. The Wharton alum made time to chat with us about some recent Lippincott projects as well as his branding pet peeve, what’s on his desk, and why the Taj Mahal never gets old.

Lippincott turns 70 this year. How are you celebrating?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating by both looking back on how the industry has evolved, honoring the moments Lippincott has influenced and the iconic brands we built, as well as looking ahead to what the next 70 years will bring. For instance, in May of this year, we designed “Pencil to Pixel” in collaboration with Monotype—an exhibit documenting the past, present and future of typography. As part of this, Lippincott developed an exhibit of its own—curating artifacts and designs throughout our history. As part of that we also moderated a roundtable discussion on the future role of design and brand expression with executives from Coach, Warby Parker, Virgin America, Chipotle, and eBay.

Tell us about a recent Lippincott project that you are particularly proud of and why?
We are very proud of the work we did for Avianca, the Latin American airline formed by the merger of Avianca and TACA airlines. We worked hand in hand with Avianca for three years to create a new unified brand, developing the new logo, aircraft livery, plane interior, visual system and frequent flyer program. It’s a really beautiful system for an airline that aspires to be the regional leader. But what we’re most proud is our work helping build a unified brand from the inside out—making sure the cultures were aligned, the employees were energized, and most importantly the customer experience could live up to the promise of a unified pan-Latin American airline.

As a specialist in brand strategy, what brand (aside from your current or past clients) would you single out as an emerging brand to watch?
I’m a huge music fan, and it’s been really interesting to watch the growth of Beats by Dr. Dre. It’s pretty amazing to see the brand they have created in just a few years, focusing on the overall music experience. They have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook by focusing on innovation delivered in great packaging and design, and took a product many thought might be obsolete and made it relevant again.
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Quote of Note | Nicolas Ghesquière

(Giovanni Giannoni)

“The process and production speeds [of H&M and Zara] are incredible, and I think they have the big bosses of luxury drooling, because everyone fantasizes about achieving that level of efficiency. Yet, for some of these brands the creative aspect gets completely short-circuited; they are clearly waiting for the runway shows to snatch and sell silhouettes as quickly as possible. It can’t be great for the designers there, who probably spend their time adapting what someone else has invented. There have been some very successful collaborations between designers and multinational retailers, especially by H&M, but it questions everyone’s future. These companies will all need strong talent at some point. They are all hedging against this investment and the fact that without an original idea you might make tons of money but you still need a creative source to survive, either to sustain your visibility or, in a more basic sense, to create clothes.”

-Nicolas Ghesquière, newly appointed artistic director of women’s collections at Louis Vuitton, in an interview with Pierre-Alexandre de Looz for 032c

Master Class: Seven Questions for Melanie Courbet, Founder of Atelier Courbet

Courbet Interior Shop
(Photos courtesy Atelier Courbet)

Melanie Courbet PortraitNew York’s latest design destination is Atelier Courbet, a new gallery and shop that brings together exquisite objects, furniture, textiles, and home accessories handpicked for their sublime old-school craftsmanship. In an age of touchscreens and disposable everything, many of these one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces combine traditional techniques with contemporary design. “Our intention is to highlight the revered talent behind every object,” says founder Melanie Courbet, who convinced renowned craftsmen Domeau & Pérès to make their stateside debut at Atelier Courbet. “We would like to inspire our clients to curate their home and their lifestyle based on the appreciation of the material and the details of their environment.” We asked Courbet to tell us more about the new venture, including its home in the historical Brewster Carriage House (located at the corner of Broome and Mott Streets) and some of her favorite straight-from-the-workshop pieces.

Why did you think that it was the right time to open this gallery and shop?
It was the right time in my life as I matured for seven years my relationships with most of the manufactures or craftsmen I represent today. On another note, I believe my desire to shift the focus to the master-craftsmanship over the design or creative aspects is a response to a context. Our market—like our global culture—shows a shift in the consumer’s behavior. There is a general trend at different levels of consumption that reflects a global desire to nurture a sense of community and connect with the makers behind our belongings or the goods we consume. Brand equity is now often built upon emotional connections with the provenance, a sense of cultural heritage and traditions. I hope for Atelier Courbet to convey that story and to allow for our clients to find that connect with each handmade piece presented.

What qualities unite the designers and companies represented at Atelier Courbet?
Atelier Courbet selects and represents master-craftsmen based on their abilities to fabricate for the contemporary art or design scene while carrying on a heritage, discipline and centuries-old techniques.

Atelier Courbet 1How did you come upon the Brewster Carriage House? Why did the building appeal to you?
It’s my friend’s building. He and I have similar visions and passions. It sounded natural and such a great fit for a gallery and shop focusing on master-craftsmanship and heritage to set the stage in a building that has that incarnation.

The Brewster Carriage Building goes back to the mid-nineteenth century when it used to house the famous carriage makers’ workshop. We kept the boilers doors as well as a carriage that was made here by the Brewster Company’s workers. Ross Morgan and I would like to make this corner a destination that stages both the heritage of the building, the neighborhood and selected centuries-old manufacturers from around the world. The Atelier Courbet and the Brewster Carriage Corner will become both a design gallery and a lifestyle shop.
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Reading the Tea Leaves: Starbucks Debuts Teavana Concept Store in NYC

Always thirsty for hot new markets, Starbucks is betting big on tea. The coffee giant recently spent $612 million to acquire Atlanta-based Teavana Holdings, and is not letting its newest subsidiary steep. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to see what’s brewing at the first-ever Teavana concept store, complete with tea bar, a “curated” loose leaf tea section, and tea-inspired foods.

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(Photos courtesy Starbucks Corporation)

Teavana is a twist on beverages, and changes the idea of how people think of tea,” said Chanda Beppu, strategy and business innovation director for global tea at Starbucks. It’s also designed to broaden how customers think about the brand.

Starbucks acquired Teavana and its more than 300 retail locations in December 2012, and last week unveiled the first “Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (on Madison Avenue at 85th Street). With an assortment of 100 Asian-inspired flavors and a coveted location near Museum Mile and Central Park, Starbucks is also looking for New Yorkers, tourists, art lovers, runners, and passersby to warm to the concept store. “We’re still learning,” said Starbucks chief creative office Arthur Rubinfeld during Wednesday’s press preview, “and we’ll see how much of a community gathering spot this becomes.”

For Starbucks, it’s all about local relevant design, and textures are key, added Rubinfeld. Starbucks’ creative director of global design, Liz Muller, led a tour of the multifaceted venue, divided into distinct sections. “Here we wanted to create a tranquil, calm, zen-like ambience,” noted Muller. “Tea is the speaking point, and the store is in the background.”

“At the entrance visitors are greeted by a wall of teas,” said Muller. “As they continue inside, they’ll see an illuminated countertop and a menu board on the left side. Wall graphics include hibiscus lit in color, with wallpaper in muted tones. The solid wraparound countertops are made of recycled oak wood, and we used lower club seating for guests. The food case is like a jewel box, taking a European approach,” On the far side of the entrance is a colorful merchandise display.
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Big Time: Olafur Eliasson, Peter Zumthor Among New Mentors in Rolex Arts Initiative

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(Photos courtesy Studio Olafur Eliasson and Keystone/Christian Beutler)

Rolex’s Arts Initiative gives new meaning to the phrase “ones to watch.” For the past decade, the luxury watchmaker has paired mentors and protégés in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts, and—beginning last year—architecture for year-long creative collaborations. The program, which encourages dialogue between artists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines, has devised dynamic duos such as Anish Kapoor and Nicholas Hlobo, Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir, and SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Yang Zhao.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice was the setting for a festive gathering held earlier today to announce the seven creative wizards who will serve as mentors for the 2014-15 program: Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theater), and Peter Zumthor (architecture). As for the emerging talents, it’s pick-your-own-protégé. Each of the mentors will choose a talented young artist to join them for a year of creative collaboration—and a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately $28,000, at current exchange rates).

Quote of Note | Peter Buchanan-Smith

sam mcgee axes
Best Made’s “Sam McGee” American felling axe.

“I took an axe that was made by someone else, and I just painted the handle. The hard part was selling it and developing a catalogue and world around that one painted, simple axe. It was done overnight in a way. I had no business plan when I started. I literally painted 12 axes, photographed them, and two or three weeks later, I built an e-commerce site, and they were up for sale online.

It has been very slow to develop and craft some of the products that I want out there. That’s what’s been hard; it takes time and money, and that doesn’t come quickly unless you’re willing to sell half of your company or something, even if that were possible. But, I’ve learned a lot from my manufacturers. We work with a 140-year-old axe company that is still run by the same family. It is really inspiring to go down there, to watch them run machinery that was built 80 to 100 years ago, and see that they’re not anxious about growing really quickly. To them, it is about long, sustained growth. No one is thinking, ‘Let’s get rich quick.’”

-Best Made Company founder Peter Buchanan-Smith in Kern and Burn: Conversations With Design Entrepreneurs, a new book by Tim Hoover and Jessica Karle Heltzel

MakerBot and Stratasys Complete Merger

MakerBot and Stratasys are now bonded as tightly as a couple of extruded molten thermoplastic layered photopolymers, having completed the $403 million merger deal announced in June. “Stratasys and MakerBot share a vision about the potential for 3D printing to transform design and manufacturing,” said Stratasys CEO David Reis in a statement issued today, to which MakerBot’s Bre Pettis added, “We are excited for the future—full speed ahead!”

Founded in 2009, Brooklyn-based MakerBot is the most recognized name in desktop 3D printers and Stratasys, formed last year by the merger of Stratasys and Objet, plans to preserve the MakerBot brand, management, and “spirit of collaboration it has built with its users and partners.” CEO and co-founder Pettis will continue to lead MakerBot, which will operate as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys. MakerBot has sold approximately 22,000 3D printers to date. Next up for the company: the MakerBot digitizer desktop 3D scanner, which promises “a quick and easy way to turn the things in your world into 3D designs you can share and print.”

NYC Pilot Program Aims to Boost Local Design Businesses


New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at a press conference held yesterday at The Future Perfect in Manhattan. (Photo: William Alatriste / New York City Council)

New York City is for designers. (Quick, someone screen that on a tri-blend tee!) Hot on the 3D-printed heels of NYCxDESIGN, the 12-day designfest that debuted in May between Frieze and ICFF, comes a pilot program that aims to stimulate the local design economy. Built/NYC, unveiled yesterday by New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn and Department of Design and Construction Commissioner David Burney, will commission site-specific furnishings for City construction projects—think parks and municipal offices—from local product designers.

“Instead of automatically purchasing a desk, a lighting fixture, or other furnishings made in another country, we can allow the City to purchase products that have been designed and manufactured right here in the five boroughs,” said Quinn at a press conference held yesterday at The Future Perfect in Mahattan. “Built/NYC is a way for the City to support our growing design community by investing in the businesses that drive New York City’s creative economy while simultaneously enhancing the interiors of public buildings and spaces.”
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Design Within Reach Debuts Textiles Line

Up with upholstery! In a move that makes us want to recover all of our furniture in a hazy wool that is simultaneously ethereal and sweatshirtesque, Design Within Reach has launched a proprietary textile program. The nine textiles in 42 colorways, which debuted online and in DWR studios this week, range from a creamy cotton twill and a broad weave that plays well with saturated brights to a moody ducale wool and a textured, tiger lily-toned take on post-industrial recycled polyester. Seven of the fabrics, including a smart lama tweed, come from a family-run mill in Italy, while the aforementioned dreamy wool melange and eco-friendly textiles are all-American, made by Maharam, which was acquired by Herman Miller in April.

MOO Expands with Luxe Business Stationery

Who says print is dead? The world’s appetite for Moleskine jotters remains unquenched, Paperless Post is doing a brisk business in tangible notes as well as e-pistles, and over in Europe, IKEA is piloting a vast array of affordably-priced papergoods (the “VÄXTGLÄDJE” notebooks are described as “handmade by a skilled craftsman”). Now online digital printer MOO, the company that brought you Sagmeister & Walsh’s continuum of flattering to insulting business cards, is expanding its Luxe family of products to encompass “premium business stationery,” including customizable (and ultra-sturdy) notecards, postcards, and minicards. “Here at MOO we want to make beautiful design more affordable and accessible,” said Richard Moross, MOO founder and CEO, in a statement issued Tuesday. “With Luxe notecards we’re re-booting stationery, the original high-impact communications tool, by using new technology to make super-high quality print available to our customers for a fraction of the cost.”

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