Words of wisdom. Maybe.

Five Words To Build Your Design Credibility

Four of those five words compose a sentence. It was the most difficult thing I learned to say in my design & consulting career. As any creative designer or strategist will confirm, credibility matters. We’re in a profession where other professionals turn to you to have answers. If not ‘the’ answer. And yet, as I have only recently come to understand, when it comes to defending and building your credibility, the most powerful – and difficult – lesson is defined in four words: “I do not know”.

Continue Reading →

The Chinese Consumer Fast Becoming A Little Less Mysterious

The Chinese Consumer

The Chinese consumer. The enigma for many Western companies, because – despite the well-documented rise of China’s middle class – little is understood about their spending and buying habits. It’s commonly accepted that the Chinese middle class consumer may have an increased brand awareness, but that this has not resulted in a brand loyalty. That the majority will still be the first time buyer. Yet amidst all this coming of age hype, backed by already being the world’s largest e-commerce market, telling signs start to reveal behaviors that in turn will shape the trends of China’s new shoppers.

Continue Reading →

Scott Wilson: Do What You Think Is Right & Apologize Later – 99U

Words of wisdom from Scott Wilson, a former Global Creative Director at Nike, who has also led design at IDEO, Motorola, and Thomson Consumer Electronics.

via Scott Wilson: Do What You Think Is Right & Apologize Later – 99U.

From Google Ventures: 4 Steps For Combining The Hacker Way With Design Thinking | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

From Google Ventures: 4 Steps For Combining The Hacker Way With Design Thinking | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

With 150 companies to mentor, Google Ventures’ team of seven designers has time only for a sprint–and that’s one reason why it’s effective.

Taobao to Launch Product Searches Inside WeChat App

The 300-plus million users of China-made messaging app WeChat can already use it for video calls, finding dates, or following brands and celebrities – and soon it will gain another aspect. China’s biggest e-commerce site, Taobao, is testing out a sort of e-commerce search engine inside WeChat. Once up and running, it’ll allow WeChat users to directly message Taobao on their phones by typing a kind of product that they’re looking for; then the app will respond with a link to the desired items.


I’ve long upheld that China has overtaking – and leading – the race in how social, technology and marketing can be mixed together in response to audience’s behaviors. Nowhere else is a smart phone of such importance than in China, and this is a direct result in how it is continuing to shape consumer behaviors.

via Taobao to Launch Product Searches Inside WeChat App.

WeChat vs Sina Weibo for Business in China [Infographic]

WeChat vs Sina Weibo for Business in China [Infographic].

As far as infographics go, this one is a fairly sadly styled one. But there are some insights for the picking.


(Almost) Ready to Wear – WSJ.com

(Almost) Ready to Wear – WSJ.com.

AirWaves is a pollution mask created by frog’s Shanghai studio. Using particle sensors, the mask combines the filtering and measuring of air quality to create a network of real-time information.”

Wall Street Journal features AirWaves. Nice!

Bypassing decision fatigue

I often joke that deciding where and what to have for lunch is the hardest thing I get to do that day. Quite a few of you will be nodding your heads right now. Choosing and making decisions is exhausting. It’s mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically demanding. The explosion of online services, the rapid adoption of technology and the continued globalization of markets have all seen our options multiplied exponentially. Choices are wearing us out.

I believe this is fundamental to why we – the consumer – form our brand loyalties. And why it matters more than anything else for brands to get this right. Getting this right means convincing the target audience that the values and choices of both parties align. Because once customers believe it does, they are comfortable in leaving choices to those brands that earned their trust. It’s how they will get to bypass decision fatigue. Once it was described as a conscious choice to select one brand over another, and that we embraced that moment. I believe that is no longer the case. Nor a goal for a brand to strive for. What is more important is that a brand becomes so engrained that it is taking some of the load of its customer’s shoulders by negating the pressure of making choices.

That requires consistent and focused work by brands as to earn the loyalty they seek to create and instill. Becoming trustworthy enough to make your audience’s choose you automatically means you have demonstrated to be aligned, and to communicate in a language and tone that resonates relevance. Customers relax, decisions do not feel forced or elicit. They believe the brand, and love them for it.

IKEA Meatball Scandal in China: It’s Not What You Think – China Real Time Report – WSJ

What Oscar Ignored: The Year’s 4 Best Online Shorts | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

Online videos are not eligible for Oscars, so one site assembled the best shorts of the year.

1 | What Oscar Ignored: The Year’s 4 Best Online Shorts | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Innovation Excellence | Design & Innovation with Robert Fabricant, frog design

“Creativity is a very fundamental quality of being human”

Innovation Excellence | Design & Innovation with Robert Fabricant, frog design.

Will 2013 be the tipping point for tablets?


20 Tech Trends for 2013

20 Tech Trends for 2013

By Creative Director Mario Van Der Meulen, Shanghai

Crystal-balling next year’s trends is never far off from what we see now, but nothing happens overnight. One solution that could make its long promised impact in 2013: the dropping price point of tablets. This will start to bring a shift from tablets being mini-computers to their role as the widespread replacement of printed media, from payment receipts to newspapers to textbooks. Lower prices will prompt people to buy numerous tablets, each optimized for different purposes. Lower prices will also make tablets a game-changing device in emerging economies in Africa, South America, and Asia, and will bring new challenges to the interaction model worldwide.

There has been a documented reduction in the media industry’s paper usage because of the adoption of tablets. These devices also use less energy compared to PCs, and could work well with renewable solutions, such as the solar energy grid. These factors, combined with less of a reliance on a physical transportation and distribution model, where combustion engines still rule, will also help push forward tablets as the timely, earth-friendly, and cost-saving alternative to paper.

There are 19 more Tech trends for 2013 here

AirWaves pollution mask

frog Shanghai's vision of wearable technology

frog Shanghai’s vision of wearable technology

frog Shanghai’s vision of wearable technology

Airwaves. Air quality data in real time, on a personal level.

Say Hello to the AirWaves mask, one of eight winning wearable technology concepts spawned by an internal competition at Frog Design. Conceptualized by frog Shanghai, I lead the team in re-imagining an every day common good in China: the pollution mask. I named it AirWaves, and designed the brand mark and typeface for it. Triggered by both the often poor air quality in cities, as well as the Chinese preference for preventative healthcare measures, we started with the idea of a pollution mask and turned it high tech. The idea is for the mask to monitor pollution levels and share that data with other wearers, creating a collective map showing which areas of a city to avoid.

Continue Reading →

Get yourself a Quadriginoctuple Frap


It’ll give you 48 shots of pure caffeine, and will only set you back $47.30.

Call me old fashion, but I never need more than 3 words to order a cup of joe. At a local Shanghai Sbux, I once cringed at hearing a 12-word order (Venti triple shot extra hot soy milk latte no cream extra caramel), with the buyer having the stones to tell the Chinese staff to hurry up. But that now got topped. Over-accessorizing a coffee. It happened.

Pause button

As of November 1 2011, SGTH will be on wind-down mode. With aim to press the pause button all year long for 2012. We’ve been in the rat race non stop for a good decade or so, and in order to to rejuvenate and refresh our collective creative outlook, we’re stepping away from it all for awhile. So 2012 is a sabbatical year for SGTH, the remainder of this year is to close current projects.We will not be taking on new projects for the time being.

Our team members all have different plans, some stick around town, some travel, others dive nose deep in new creative challenges and no one seems to plan to loaf in the sofa and veg out. Strange! Let’s see where the road takes us.

To our clients a big thank you for the support and energy. To our suppliers a thank you for the countless coffees and efforts. It’s been fantastic decade working with amazing people, and we each look forward to a well deserved battery recharge. After which we do it all over again, I suppose.


Product Experience vs User Experience

Or the power of one picture telling those 1000 words. Photo by Ursus Wherli.

An open letter to the Apple Corporation on your stumble toward a Nike-level supply chain brand disaster in China at Joshua Wickerham

The Basics of Visual Note-taking – by Core77

Excellent guide and explanation on how to craft your sketches into ideas and into concepts. It’s old school, sure. But the best designers I know are the ones that master this trade of sketching while thinking/deducting. It’s what we practice daily at the studio, and a pre-requisite for any designer we hire or work with. Click the link to go bookmark the article.

Sketchnotes 101: The Basics of Visual Note-taking – Core77.

Design Review Jury at Raffles Design Institute Shanghai

Tomorrow, June 11th, I will have the pleasure to join the Final Design Project review for this year’s Graphic Design students at Raffles Design Institute Shanghai.

Officially it is called ‘an External Advisor’, and as such I will have four Graphic Design students to interview and review each of their project’s work. Usually there is a presentation book, a banner, sketchbook (although these days it is more of a collage book, no one sketches anymore…) and additional design objects. But again, rarely do we get to see mock ups or dummies of packaging or such. And those that do present books have all had it made by the good folks at the copy center.

Continue Reading →

EELS – thanks for nothing. Amateurs.

Thanks for nothing, E. You the man. Not.

It’s a rarity to have quality bands perform in China. Getting any music act passed the great wall is a death by a thousand cuts for any promoter. Yet, despite that, these guys and girls will keep at it. I guess that is the only consolidation we Shanghai-dwelling music lovers have. Regardless of Eels massive cluster fuck.

It is a simple rule = if you need (or think to need) certain tools to perform your trade, you travel with the tools. I’ve done the band thing, I know. But it applies to any profession; if you need a computer to do your job, you travel with it. I cannot imagine sending my computer by car, and flying in to a meeting in Beijing assuming my computer will arrive on time for me to do a presentation. That would likely screw up the project.

Yet the reverse was the whole idea by Eels and their ‘management’. Drive their precious instruments 800+ miles overnight. In any Western country that would have been a stretch. In a country such as China, where even professional, global delivery services cannot guarantee you this road trip, that is just pain-ass stupid.
Continue Reading →