Andy Spade Interview by David Coggins for A Continuous Lean

Andy Spade: At the Bar by David Coggins

I posted this about this Andy Spade interview on my Twitter but there are a couple of gems that I wanted to point out:

DC: It seems like it’s not enough to design something—it has to have a place in the world, and be used in the world and responded to. It’s not enough to be self-referential or clever for its own sake.

AS: Exactly.

DC: It seems that there’s a lot of that these days.

AS: There is a lot that. It’s one thing if it’s a conceptual art piece, but another if it’s an object to be used. My friend Rich Silverstein, who’s in advertising, said this great thing: ‘Everyone borrows from the past. Just don’t steal from other advertising agencies. Look to the history of art or bridge design there are so many great places and put them together in a new way.’ Putting a piano in a bar at the Carlyle is a lot different than putting one in our store on Great Jones Street. It’s how you do it.

I’ve felt this way for a long time. Being clever for clevers sake just doesn’t work for me and it never will. This is especially true when it comes to the popular tren of “Star Wars posters that look like cereal boxes” or “TV shows in the style of German propaganda” or whatever. Sure, you smirk at them, but no one is going to remember what you did two weeks from now.

I also liked this gem:

DC: There’s something depressing about seeing the same store with the same window design uptown and downtown. It’s only a step away from seeing it in the duty free store in the airport. I would go into Jack Spade just to see what’s on the wall.

AS: Right, that’s why I go in to a store, too. I was totally influenced by Agnes B and Paul Smith. I wanted to make everything personal to be sure it felt honest. Don’t make it look like it’s been styled. I would say to Mordechai and Matt Singer, do what you like. It doesn’t have to be duplicated. It’s like organic farming. This is our little community store, it reflects the neighborhood. How big can you get before you get bad? I need that detail to be exactly right or exactly wrong. It’s like a living breathing creature—don’t you like your friend more when he makes a mistake or falls down? That’s what brands need to be.

Making mistakes as a brand, the right mistakes that is, is essential to anyone. But thinking about making mistakes as a brand and learning from them is such a great concept. Andy Spade is kind of my new design/life hero. I’d suggest taking the time to read the rest of this article.


March 11, 2010