— December 18, 2009 by Damien
I have to say, I'm a little tickled by the fact we're going to end this year on week 100 for our company. The kind of symmetry that makes those of us here geek out. Technically the year swaps out on the 100th week for us - which makes it all that much sweeter.
Here in the States things slowed down for the annual feasting and thanks celebrated on the last Thursday of November. The office closed for a few days but we've apparently been sneaking back in individually to get work done with no one else around.
So things should look different here at centralstory.com. As I've mentioned before, Weightshift worked with us over the last few months to get to know us, eat together, then translate how we worked and behaved into this online expression of that. Being a design firm ourselves it was definitely an interesting activity to work with designers to trust them and encourage them to design for us. We worked with Eric Strohl to design our identity, and were definitely a little nervous about being presented to. All of a sudden we were on the other side of the table, as the client, and these guys had worked hard to show us their best work. What I enjoyed most about the process was translating our vision and purpose into something that could inspire Eric as well as the Weightshift team. It helped Sara and I get it out of our heads and discuss it with people who needed to understand it. Very valuable. A lot of fun.
More case studies are being prepared. Hopefully we'll have up to eight of them online in the coming weeks. The products in the shop should also be available very soon, just in time for the next Holidays, as soon as we work out our fulfillment process here at the studio.
Project-wise, things are moving a long nicely. Sara's group has a presentation in L.A. soon of some self-initiated designs they've been working on. Otherwise, we're working on the year-end admin and next year's plans. We're really excited about upcoming collaborations, new opportunities and some of the people we're going to get to work with next year. Oh, and we're closing the office for two-and-a-half weeks. It will be a new thing for us. We'll be sure to let you know how that goes.
Some of the things that I've begun to think about are the self-initiated projects we strive to keep going on in amongst the client-initiated projects. Our aim in starting Central was to always have that harmony of doing what we want to do while easily covering the costs through helping clients with their projects. I find it fascinating to watch design firms evolve as time goes on, from building equity in providing services in one core area over time to figuring out what they'd prefer to be doing. For us, we want to start this way and continuously be working on new projects that are unlike the previous ones, and we're much more likely to attract the right kind of collaborator if we're able to work on a healthy number of projects we've self-started. Coudal has long been inspiration for this, but learning more about BERG and their evolution is also inspiring in how they have a model that helps companies do what we want to do for ourselves. Other companies like Howies and their Do Lectures is a great example of having the strength in the brand to branch out and do something they're interested in, even if doesn't sell more T-shirts, but it provides for their interest. A firm like Adaptive Path has provided consulting services as well as running several events like UX Week, MX as well as workshops. However, I see this more as a self-fulfilling business development cycle. They might genuinely enjoy it, but they're essentially self-promotion (and perhaps recruitment) tools back to the industry they work for, in or would like to do so. Thus in looking for the harmony between feeding ourselves and growing the business, I'm more inspired by their client work and their thought leadership than the event offerings.
We have an interesting mix in the studio of design focused on the process of design (design thinking, innovation etc.) and the craft of design, so in some ways we might have permission to do a wider range of self-initiated experimental projects. Plenty of things to consider, sketch and discuss here in the studio over the coming weeks.