Category Archives: Creativity

Going Public: What Reinventing Paris Can Teach London

That the Internet is in the process of transforming many sectors is by now a truism, but this fact does not make the phenomenon any less real; moreover, the depth of the potential for what is ultimately just a series of networked computers to improve everyday lived experience cannot be underestimated. Reinventing Paris – a scheme to revitalise 37 acres of disused public space in one of the world’s most iconic metropolises – is emblematic of the new possibilities.

The central concept: Paris is a city with vast swathes of publically-owned land which has been lying empty for decades; these parcels include shuttered Métro stations, parking basements and nightclubs. Moreover, much of this land is located in central locations, and is aesthetically notable: perfect for being turned into restaurants, galleries and other leisure venues. Anne Hidalgo – the Parti socialiste Mayor of Paris – has, through the medium of the Web, opened an international competition to canvas ideas for the future uses of this valuable resource.

After some contemplation, we at Mediolana believe that the dual-national Paris leader is onto something, and that London needs to take note of three points from this exercise:

  1. Public Land ≠ Get Rich Quick Scheme. Over the last decade in particular, too much of London’s state-owned land has been sold off to property developers whose express purpose is to annihilate the general citizenry’s access to it. Any alternative to not constructing dehumanising residential towers – parks, lakes, sporting and cultural amenities – does not seem to have penetrated the discourse. This can and must change.
  2. Innovate. At least since the end of Ken Livingstone’s reign at the helm of London’s City Hall, the United Kingdom’s capital has been desperately short of municipal creativity. Boris Johnson – who somehow held the post of mayor for eight years – did not follow through on his one Big Idea, the New Routemaster for London, on which conductors were abandoned; while it is somewhat early to evaluate the Sadiq Khan administration, the signs on this front are not encouraging. Being a twenty-first century mayor cannot be just about overseeing longstanding infrastructure projects; it is about being brave, visionary and prolific in generating concrete ideas to improve people’s lives.
  3. Internationalise. Part of why London – despite being a genuine world capital – is often way behind cities with a fraction of its population and profile when it comes to governance is that its media culture is centralised and insular: it has just a single daily newspaper, and this title shows little if any interest in making its readers aware of urban best practice from around the globe. Given London’s extraordinarily talented international population, this is nothing short of a scandal; every step should be taken to collate, publicise and implement what cities from Istanbul to Tokyo are doing better than us – and take it to the next level.

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Dressing to Impress, 2016: Butterfly Swarm ‘Will Revolutionise Haute Couture’!

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Real Love Analysis: Does Florrie’s Latest Video Signify a Successful Rebranding?

Regular readers of this blog will by now be well aware of our fixation on Florence Arnold (‘Florrie’), a twenty-something British singer-songwriter who is relatively well-known on the London music scene but is not yet regarded as a national treasure; this has bothered us for some time now, especially given that we can’t help thinking that almost any other of the 192 UN member states would have accorded this status to her long ago. However, we have simultaneously sensed question marks over her branding: in particular, her videos have tended to lack an overarching identity that would make Florrie a corporate religion in her own right.

On 5th February 2016 the Florrie music and marketing machine crunched into a new dimension with the release of Real Love. This success of this song – which has already registered over 500,000 YouTube views in a little under five days – would appear to represent a major triumph for Florrie. And unlike her previous videos, the Real Love clip features a story, of sorts: a sleazy-but-amiable fashion photographer guides our stunning heroine through a series of unlikely assignments, and after a brief sojourn in a retro-disco both characters are seen presumed drowned in the photographer’s swimming pool.

But once again after watching a Florrie video, we feel compelled to ask the same old question: is this lively collection of Vogue spread clichés really the best clip that could have been released? Would it have been so hard to depict an actual love story with customised iconography, particularly given the proximity to Valentine’s Day? After some contemplation, the relative depth of the Real Love movie only goes to highlight just how far there is to go in constructing the Florrie brand; with an anthemic dance track as infectious and joyous as Real Love and a supremely talented and telegenic pop artist singing it, Florrie should surely be rivalling PSY – and she fully deserves that level of ubiquity.

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Back in the Shire: Insularity of London Literary Scene Spawns Alternative Festival!

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The Enchantment of Infinity Toilets: Entrepreneurial Lessons From An Instagram Fragment

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Two apparently unconnected events recently engendered a unique synergy in the life of our Creative Director & CSO. The first was his reading of Monocle magazine’s 2015/16 Entrepreneur’s Guide, the latest edition of the increasingly-essential annual survey published in the pages of the London-headquartered über-magazine; the second was an Instagram picture of an infinity toilet taken by no less an entity than Florence Arnold (‘Florrie’), arguably the United Kingdom’s sole recognisably traditional pop-dance artist under the age of thirty.

While the first occurrence needs little explaining – Monocle’s Entrepreneur’s Guide should really occupy a bigger space in the business literature pantheon than it presently does – the second may remain mysterious even to many of those who read this entire article, who will doubtless wonder what a piece of sanitation technology has to do with the art of commerce. But the answer to this lies in the really salient question: what inspired a national pop icon to pose in the same photograph as a type of object which is associated with pure, unremarkable functionality?

After some reflection, we at Mediolana have no other answer than the simple reality of enchantment. The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) perceived that modernity is characterised by a lack of enchantment: in an overwhelmingly ‘rational’ world which prioritises implementing solutions to technical problems, the ‘irrational’ modalities of aesthetics, love and spirituality risk being consigned to the history books as ‘barbarous’ progress smothers all before it. The University of Maryland’s George Ritzer has extended this theory – wrapped in the wax paper of McDonaldisation – to the context of postmodernity.

One way out of disenchantment is a humanising post-industrialism that emphasises customisation, individuality and even a return to beauty. It is these possibilities that explain perhaps more than anything else Florrie’s perfectly human response to being confronted with something beyond the ordinary. But the same dynamic applies to much more than fashionable receptacles.

In this light of this, entrepreneurs everywhere must ask themselves hard questions: are your products and services moving and meaningful enough to provoke attachment and self-identification? If not, what can be done to make them so? And when will that new journey begin? In an era of grassroots manufacturing and extreme connectivity, it is only be a matter of time before your competitors answer these queries decisively.

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Research into Research Reveals Need for More Research: Indonesia Plans R&D Overhaul to Improve Competitiveness!

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The End of an Era: World’s Last Supermodel Calls it Quits!

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