Friday, May 23, 2008

Design to feel for

In the Attraction Economy, design is King. Well, Queen too, for that matter. We are way beyond modernism’s rubric of ‘form follows function’. Now ‘form follows feeling’ - how does a design make you feel about an experience? Creating the feeling begins to ignite in those hotbeds of attitude and talent, craziness and personality: design schools where there are no limits except the ones you choose to observe, no protocols, no politics (office ones, I mean) and no set processes. It's my idea of heaven and a place where young people can take giant steps toward understanding people and the experiences that can help enrich their lives. I was pointed to a great example of what happens when you unleash the spirit of students with a smart project by my new friends at Nestlé. I have had the opportunity to talk with almost a thousand Nestlé people over the past two years. I love their evolving attitude toward design, as well as their commitment to their own traditions: the fledglings in the nest has got to be one of the archetypal brand identities.

Nespresso is the part of Nestlé that ensures you can make a perfect espresso yourself, and they came up with the Coffee for Design Contest in 2005 (if you are in Paris, go visit their concept store on the Champs-Elysees. Maurice Levy did and now we have Nespresso machines throughout Publicis HQ. Yes!). The idea? To inspire espresso (and Nespresso) with fresh perspectives. The people with those new perspectives? Students at top European design schools who get the opportunity to see their work exhibited at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, plus some pretty serious cash prizes.

The latest competition was themed COFFEELUXURY. No constraints, no budget worries, just design, coffee and luxury. The results, which you can see here, are spectacular. One of the judges commented that the definition of luxury is as unique as a person’s fingerprint, and these young designers were certainly inspired by that conviction. I love the way young people leap to a challenge. Entries ranged from sensual new looks for the coffee machine and mugs, to chocolates designed to die for.