Three young entrepreneurs shaping the future
These days, creative graduates with a firm grasp of technology are striking out on their own. Claire McCall talks to three young creatives to watch.
Creative director, Motion Sickness Studio
High-school mates Stutchbury, Alex McManus and Jono De Alwis, all 24, studied together at Otago University before starting their own creative agency in 2012. Their first job, an internship video for the university, led to a commission from Dunedin Tourism. Recently they worked on a video campaign and web design project for Burger Burger. The trio has just relocated to a converted warehouse building in Newmarket and added two new members to their social media team.
Why name your business after a sick feeling?
One of the originators, John Tom, coined that. There was a period after we had just started that we were so busy and things were moving so quickly that he felt nauseous!
How did it all begin?
The plan was simply to create cool stuff. We started doing part-time video work. We bought a Canon 7D DSLR camera and lens for still shots and filming for $2000. Then we chucked a couple more thousand dollars into the business to buy more lenses and Steadicams. Now we're 40 percent video and the rest is agency work, managing social media and online marketing campaigns.
What's your point of difference?
We never create stuff that seems like an ad. It's made for Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, and it's entertainment. Often we work with user-generated content, drawing on stuff from life.
Tell us about some successful campaigns.
For five months in a row campaigns for Killinchy Gold and Movenpick icecreams achieved top 5 rankings for fan engagement. We took Liquor Centre from 200 likes to 20,800 in just a few months. We've just signed a Maserati dealership in Auckland to do their social and digital campaigns.
How has being young helped your business?
We thought people wouldn't take us seriously but now we have some work behind us, people respect it and see our unique perspective. They're often surprised when they meet us how young we are. We love doing creative stuff together and we set out to support young talent, contracting graduates from the design schools.
Any tips for others thinking of doing the same thing?
We were just so excited and passionate that we didn't think too much about it - we went with the flow. You have to rely on your talent. We believed in ourselves and that it would shine through.
Associate, Warren and Mahoney
With his neon-bright trainers and rolled trousers, Barrington Gohns, 28, is not your traditional picture of an architect. A first-class honours graduate from the University of Auckland, he started at Warren and Mahoney while he was a final-year student, eventually setting up a workshop studio with a few like-minded friends. Exploring the use of digital technology in architecture, his projects include creating a range of digitally responsive runways for the New Zealand and Australian Stolen Girlfriends Club fashion shows, and the Rugby World Cup countdown clock.
Where do you fit within the architectural fraternity?
I want to pursue the use of digital technology in design ... because it is rarely used or integrated well.
Where is Auckland heading?
Apartment-style living will be a critical factor in making Auckland work. With this style of living, the city becomes your backyard. New and rejuvenated urban environments will start to emerge. We are already starting to see these - Ponsonby Central, The Commons and City Works Depot.
Why live in New Zealand when you could head off anywhere?
We have a hive of work happening around us, from large infrastructure works such as the Waterview Connection to key blueprint projects throughout Christchurch. I want to stay and be part of it. It really is a unique time for young graduates. On a social, political and cultural level, our generation has a lot more ability to have an effect if we stay.
How has technology affected the way you work?
We make use of 3D visualisation software on a daily basis. What I'd really like to see, though, is the extension of this technology into our final design. For instance, Silo Park in the Wynyard Quarter has to be one of the most successful urban environments within our city. But I would argue it could be better. We could explore key heritage aspects - viewed through your smartphone in real time - or create a digital e-commerce realm to enhance business networking. Imagine digital stalls or shopfronts. Or activate a way for start-up businesses to use the park as an open-air office.
Does your generation care about architectural discussion?
We are not fully immersed in centuries of architectural heritage and history like our European counterparts, so we are somewhat removed. But the whole of Auckland is rejuvenating and buildings like the new Auckland Art Gallery have really brought the topic to mind. On the Shore, the Department Store has to be another in terms of a retail discussion. So people are starting to appreciate design.
What do you do in your spare time?
I'm giving a motorbike a bobber strip, which means taking off the redundant elements. I like to explore and dabble, and I have a graveyard of things I'm working on at home - chairs, bikes and installations - but it's hard to fit a workshop of welding tools and cast aluminium into a residential home. I recently entered a concept project into the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.
Creative director, Think & Shift
Kamp, 23, has already been in business for two years. Together with Samuel Griffin and James McNab, he introduced Y.S Collective, a furniture, lighting and object retailer, to the Mt Maunganui design scene. Meanwhile, the consultancy and contracting side of their business has allowed them to prosper financially and last month, the company relocated to Auckland.
How did you start the business?
We did very little forecasting, which turned out to be a good thing. It allowed us to naively think it was all just going to happen. If we'd laid it out, we might have put it off for a few years. It was a steep learning curve over two-and-a-half years, but we learned things you wouldn't if you worked in a studio or for an established company.
What about the financial side?
At first, we all had jobs and worked in the business on the side. We put a lot of our own money into it. Simon James was the first retailer to buy stuff and we were really excited. He was awesome and gave us some advice on how retail operates. Again, naivety worked to our advantage. We were just going for it without too much regard as to where we sat within the industry. We just thought "that's our target" and went for it.
How did the consultancy side of the business come about?
Our furniture clients started asking us for design in the non-consumer arena - a recycling bin system for a company that attends food markets and uses takeaway coffee cups, for example. Think & Shift is where we make our money. With Y.S though, we also have the opportunity to be totally creative, so it's the best of both worlds.
What's your point of difference?
We're always questioning each other on design ideas and decisions. Sam is interested in spatial design, James is detail-focused (on product design) and my role tends to be conceptual - the big-picture stuff. Being young means we have a fresh perspective and are connected with what's around. So many friends our age are doing really interesting, inspiring things. So we're not doing it alone. People generally value what we do, but some still think we'll be cheaper because we're young.
What role does technology play in your business?
All we really need to run a business is a laptop. We can work in a client's space or a cafe for a week. In Auckland, we have a studio but we want to keep our agility. So we meet every morning then head off in different directions and spend time working apart. It gives us a bit of flexibility, too. If James wants to go and live in Brazil, we can survive and he can still participate.
What exciting projects are you working on?
We're designing a coffee table that is 3D-printed in titanium and then melded with hand-crafted timber - a mix of the old and the new. We're working with Campus Living Villages to develop spaces in hostels that combine responsible drinking with study. It's about socialising and lounging. And we're involved in a project for Auckland City, designing the physical aspects (such as signage) of how visitors and locals, pedestrians and cyclists navigate the city.