• Weeknote 519

    November 2nd to 8th

    Dance floor selfie at our party.

    I never gave much thought about precious being 10 years old, until we invited people for our anniversary party. Only then I realized the company is exists for a decade! Actually the business that Christophe and I registered, and which served as the legal entity for the design studio, is even older. It all started as a record label. But that’s another story I need to write down, because I realized that even most of my colleagues don’t know about it.

    A lot of people at the party remarked about what a long time this is. For me, it doesn’t feel like that. Maybe because precious in it’s current incarnation is only three years old (and evolves faster and faster every year). Everything before was just a long warm-up.

    Not that I don’t cherish the time as a designer duo in the early days. I’m extremely grateful that I had the chance to work closely with an amazing designer and genuine person like Christophe. Philipp, who collaborated with us a lot in the early days, and still does today, also inspired me a lot, and had a great impact on precious. And we couldn’t have wished for a better first employee than we got with David. He started as an intern in 2011 and quickly became a very important part of precious.

    But with Michael as a third partner, the move to our current location and the addition of more team members, we started to write a new chapter. It just begun. The potential I see dwarfs the history.

    And so I’m excited for the next 10 years.

    Thanks to Aisha, Arved, Christophe, David, Florie, Michael, Sean and Svenja for making this company what it is. You are awesome!

    Thanks to the alumni – Henne, Sthuthi, Amanda, Chiara – and all freelancers who collaborated with us. Thanks to all partners and clients we worked with. You are all part of our history and shaped precious into what it is now.

    To the next 10 years!

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 512 - 514

    September 13th to October 3rd

    It’s been a while. A lot happened.

    Let’s start with something uncomfortable. Disagreements. Dissonance. Discrepancy. It became obvious that we had different opinions, or rather priorities, about a very important company issue. Since we didn’t address it early on, a heated discussion erupted at a moment that wasn't ideal. It made me feel uneasy for a few days. But when it was over, I was glad to see that we could have this kind of arguments without any resentfulness.

    My spirits were also elevated by our precious one-tenth initiative. Florie and I visited some organisations we considered for donations, and I left each meeting motivated and inspired. We decided to use part of our budget to support More Than Shelters, a non-profit social business that developed a modular emergency shelter system (DOMO). As their name suggests, they do more than just designing tents. Because a shelter only fulfils the most basic needs, they also do co-design workshops in refugee camps to improve the living conditions of the people there. It’s a great example of using a holistic design approach to tackle such a complex problem like the current refugee crisis. Because of the dramatic situation in Germany, MTS set up a pool of DOMOs to provide quick help where needed the most. With our contribution, three DOMOs have been financed. If you also like to support this cause, you can donate here.

    Project-wise, there isn’t so much news. Less people as usually were involved in Puichon, but those who are have a pretty intense time. Christophe, especially. Most of the time he is in the box, brooding over the “configuration” of the design system together with Puichon team. Meanwhile, Sean is exploring the depths and breadths of a specific app.

    We also started to work on another conference. Not our own (yet!), but exciting nevertheless. It has a very different audience than re:publica or NEXT (which we both worked with), so Florie is trying to get familiar with this strange kind of humans.

    A prototype we developed last year will finally be turned into the real thing. Arved and David are on it.

    Michael is doing so many different things, I keep loosing track. There was some consulting for Hagebau, workshops with Gruner + Jahr and handling many new project inquiries.

    Aisha is busy with planning and organising a special event. More about that soon.

    Sean also has organised a little something. For the first time we are opening our studio for a Behance Portfolio Review. See you!

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 507 & 508

    August 10th to 23rd

    If you follow our Twitter and Instagram streams, you may know that busy and exciting days are behind us.

    Before going to Sweden with 3/4 of the gang, we opened our studio once again for the UX Camp. This year we even managed to contribute some talks: Christophe presented Data Populator and Florie talked about how we are approaching our endeavors to give 10% of our profits to social causes. Michael was on vacation but he was metaphysically in the room, when Klaus-Peter gave an introduction to The Product Field.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, because I was already en route to Malmö, where the rest of our little Reisegruppe joined me on Monday.

    After visiting The Conference last year, Christophe raved so much about it, that we all wanted to go there. With high expectations we arrived, with a smile we left.

    That smile was on our faces right from the beginning, when the conference (sorry, The Conference) was kicked off by a lovely warm-up dinner. Starting with food is always a good thing. And when it’s served in an old, empty industrial building at two incredibly long tables populated with lots of friendly people, you know you are on to something.

    The next two days at Slagthuset – the main event – had the same friendly, welcoming and laid-back style. I was impressed how well the team managed to establish a warm, casual, fun, sometimes even goofy atmosphere, but in a extremely professional way. Everything was flawlessly organized, everything seemed to run like clockwork. It felt perfectly imperfect.

    The overall quality of the talks was pretty good, but honestly neither did I learn that much new, nor was I inspired or challenged that much. Some presentations were reassuring: lectures by UsTwo or Made by Many, both studios we respect a lot, showed me that they work pretty similar than we do – albeit on a larger scale. Others presentations were really fun and entertaining, which also has its merits of course. More team favorites were this, and this and this little surprise.

    Actually being not that much inspired by the talks, inspired me in a way. In the last days I thought a lot about how my perfect conference would look like. In a lot of aspects, The Conference would be a role model. Setting, atmosphere, personal touch and all the other little details that make a great experience. It’s just that I would want to touch more broader topics by a more diverse set of speakers.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as aloof or arrogant. Or belittling the effort of the curators and speakers. I think they did a great job. My ten-years younger self would have been more excited, and I think for the majority of the attendees, the curation of the talks was exactly right. It’s just that I prefer something either more in-depth (when it comes to design) or more broad (going more beyond our day-to-day work as designers). Which maybe would over-stretching the format of such a conference… but anyway, I’m thinking a lot about this right now.

    Going deeper and broader was probably the job of the many side events that took place the day before and in the two post-conference days. It’s my fault I only attended one, because I guess those were designed to address exactly what I was criticizing earlier. Christophe, however, had the whole experience visiting many places and meeting lots of people as part of the 040x040 program (which had some overlaps with the conference’s side events).

    All in all The Conference was awesome. A huge thanks to the team for making it such a great experience.

    I will stay a little longer in Malmö. Although I’ll be in touch with the headquarters in Hamburg, I will probably not know enough about the activities in the studio to write weeknotes. Maybe someone else will take over.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 503

    July 13th to 19th

    Almost everybody is either on vacation right now or leaving soon, which means it’s very busy. Busy, because we are less people, extra busy, because everyone still here wants to get things done before going away.

    One of those things we want to get out of the door is this. That’s why I stop writing now and get back to it.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 500

    June 22nd to 28th

    Five hundred!

    Not the number of actual weeknotes, though. We started much later and skipped quite a few since then.

    A few weeks ago, when I continued writing weeknotes after a long period of silence, I said to myself: keep going to 500 and then…

    Frankly, I sometimes struggle to write these posts. Sometimes I think there is nothing interesting to report. Or there is something interesting on my mind, but I don’t have the time, energy or skill to write about it properly. Or something interesting happened, but we can’t talk about it publicly. In either case, it’s a little frustrating.

    Looking back at all the weeknotes, I must admit, that they are not as honest and transparent as I want them to be. I often amplified the positive aspects and omitted the problems, doubts and struggles, thus painting a picture that’s not totally accurate. I think that’s partly because these posts are the only content on our website. Greeting your visitors with negativity is probably not the best idea. Maybe that changes, when the weeknotes step back and are not the defining content of this website anymore.

    Although writing these weeknotes is often not as satisfying as I would like it to be, I still see some value in them. 500 won’t be the last.

    As for what happened this week, have a look here and there.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 498 + 499

    June 8th to 21st

    Looking at our activity log of the last two weeks, I realized that we are currently and actively working on four precious products. Two have been just released: Data Populator and Product Field. Two more are in the works.

    Say goodbye to lorem ipsum

    We always made sure to design with realistic data, but doing so was very tedious. That’s why we developed Data Populator. It has been a very powerful tool for us, and now that we shared it, we are glad to see that it struck a nerve with lots of designers.

    While a great little helper on its own, Data Populator is a piece of a larger puzzle: a workshop series we have developed for designers, product managers and developers about getting the most out of Sketch and how to manage design workflows in complex projects (contact us, if that sounds intriguing).

    Field better products

    The Product Field is also released and ready to be used by everybody. We’ve already gathered some valuable feedback from people who tried it with their product ideas. Klaus, Wolfgang and our Michael – the three authors of the Product Field – held a first public workshop this week at the betahaus. More to come. Of course we also offer internal workshops for companies. If you have a product idea you want to evaluate, contact us.

    Because we now have all these products lined up, we are also working on a new website. In the last years, we de-prioritized our web presence to the point where we didn’t even talk about it anymore. We told ourselves that we don’t really need a proper website with a portfolio. But now that we working on it, I suspect that there was also another reason for postponing a redesign: it’s grueling to work on your own website. At least for me it is. It’s gotten worse, though. 15 years ago, designing my own website was fun. I thought everything I did was awesome. Most of it probably wasn’t, but the delusion helped.

    These days I find it really hard to represent our studio. Maybe that’s because this company is evolving so much lately. And our ideas for the future are even more exciting.

    There is this story about Otl Aicher, who – when asked by a client to do a corporate identity job – suggested they should publish a book about themselves instead. Only then, when they reflected about what they are really about, he might work on their visual identity.

    A wise men he was. Nevertheless we will build the website before we publish a book.

    Posted by Johannes.