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Wilma Fasola

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Ost meets West

Interior design in japandi style means creating a stylish, free and open space.

You take a considerable portion of Japanese minimalism, add an equally generous amount of Nordic Design – and the living trend for 2021 is complete. „Japandi” is a mix of the popular Scandinavian “Hygge” style and the Japanese Wabi-Sabi philosophy, which is also considered the concept of the perception of beauty. Evident core elements of Japandi are natural colors, simple shapes and primarily wood. While the northern Europeans contribute lighter colored spruce or oak wood to the interior, the Asian area provides darker Design pieces in acacia or walnut. A stylish example of this is a solid oak wood table, flanked by dark wooden chairs.

less is more

The natural factor also comes to the fore in the choice of materials. Linen, jute, cotton, paper, rattan and ceramics are used, and preferably in the colors brown, beige or terracotta. Complimented by optical highlights in indigo, emerald and aubergine. The basic philosophy behind Japandi is to concentrate on the essentials and to omit everything superficial.

Therefore no surprise that the living trend is particularly appealing to minimalists. Decoration articles and other accessories are not completely banned from the room, they are simply placed consciously and generally as a functional eye catcher.

A wall mirror, which makes the room appear optically larger, or intentionally placed light islands as well as plants that attract our gaze and calm our over stimulated senses, that’s decorating in Japandi style. Two well-known elements from the Japanese furnishing style are a must: Room dividers, the so-called paravents, and low pieces of furniture for example a futon bed or a proportionately lowered sofa. Ceramic vases with Japanese characters are also an essential statement. Cushions and blankets as a functional accessory are inspired by “Hygge”. Important to note: Never exaggerate and ask yourself with each piece whether it is really (still) necessary.

A place of rest

The term Japandi is, by the way, a blend of the two terms “Japan” and “Scandic”. And, we have to be honest, not a completely new style. Roughly 150 years ago Danish architects were inspired by the simple elegance of the living style on their travels to Japan. But the clear and extremely modest look has only now come to take its place in our homes. Whether the reason is that we are all more at home now and despite restricted freedom of movement miss the desire for generous dimensions, remains to be seen. The fact is that Japandi provides a stylish, cozy haven. And that does everyone good – always!

Photos Copyrights: Pfister, Carl Hansen, IMM Cologne/Kettler/SICIS, Vitra, COR, Shutterstock

The world of Assouline

Books carry us away from home to distant lands. In our heads the most beautiful places are created and fantastic areas on the edge of the imaginable are formed through surreal dream worlds. On the next few pages you will be immersed in Chateau Life – the new photo book from Assouline – and enter into a culinary dream. The French have been extolled as culinary experts for a long time. The emphasis is particularly on the time they spend together around the table. Jane Webster and her Australian family live in Château Bosgouet in Normandy and have adopted the tradition of the French table with surprise and joy at every turn. From strolling around the market, to setting the table through to the use of a vegetable garden. Their adventures are captured here through the sophisticated eye of the photographer Robyn Lea.

Baked French Cheesecake

Herb Gourgéres

Orange Marmalade Soufflé

Smoked Salmon Pâté

Soupe de Petits Pois

The dining room of Château du Thil in Graves, Bordeaux.

Doris’s Courgette Bread

Moules à la Normande

CHÂTEAU LIFE: Cuisine and style in the french countryside
By Jane Webster with original photography by Robyn Lea
Publisher: Assouline
WWW.ASSOULINE.COM

Masterpieces

Die “Impossible Collection” from Assouline is more than a collection of printed words and pictures; it is an homage to the exceptional

Books are an integral part of our past and present; Prosper and Martine Assouline are in full agreement on this point. They are also something that will become more beautiful in the future, because books are simply valuable. From this viewpoint the couple jointly founded its own brand in the mid 90s or rather opened their own library, by starting to create the books that they had always sought. Their “Impossible Collection” is certainly not a bargain buy, if we can express it so casually, but it is definitely a treasure chest for all the literary aesthetes among us.

“The virtual world needs tangible things.”

– Martine Assouline

Pablo Picasso: The Impossible Collection

100 works and a man whose name is known even to small children. If any artist influenced the 20th century, then it was Pablo Picasso. This work is the literary collection that no one in the world can own in its entirety.

Chanel: The Impossible Collection

The book is a literary museum, a curated selection of 100 iconic and characteristic looks from the Chanel house, from the timeless little black dress to the perfectly finished tweed suit – decisively influenced by the great Karl (Lagerfeld).

Rolex: The Impossible Collection

No other brand embodies the epitome of the luxury watch more than a Rolex. They have all found their place in this work, the special examples of these unique chronographs.

Formula 1: The Impossible Collection

What began in 1950 as a Gentlemen’s Club is today a global circus with millions of fans, watching the horsepower fireballs, that dual round for round with only milliseconds separating them, spellbound. This is their story.

The Impossible Collection of Bentley

In 1919 when Walter Owen Bentley founded his company it was not to build the fastest car but the best car. This unparalleled anthology outlines how unerringly, elegantly and stylishly he managed to achieve this over the last 10 decades.

The Impossible Collection of Wine 

Enrico Bernado – The best Sommelier both on an Italian and international scale made his dream of the ultimate wine cellar come true with this book and compiled all wines that are not to be surpassed for quality, rarity and exclusivity.

Photos Copyrights: © Assouline, Robyn Lea

Dr. Pascal Botteron

“In challenging times, a good ESG culture helps, to ride the storm better.”

The environmental, social and leadership aspects are not only decisive for success or failure in the economy, but they are also increasingly becoming a key differentiating factor in the financial industry.

Dr. Pascal Botteron is co-founder and CEO of Green Blue Invest (GBI) SA, a Swiss company dedicated to the development of ESG investment solutions. The core offering of Green Blue Invest is composed of ESG investment products starting their evaluation from the quality of corporate Governance. Before founding Green Blue Invest, Pascal Botteron had been involved in alternatives, risk management, portfolio management and impact investing for the last 25 years in banking, consulting and as an academic. In particular Pascal has occupied several Global Investment roles at Deutsche Bank in Asset and Wealth management based in the UK and Switzerland and has been Professor and/or Lecturer at the University of Lausanne, the Swiss banking School, Thunderbird, the University of Zurich and HEC in Paris.

What does ESG stands for exactly?
ESG is a terminology widely used to define how a corporation is addressing Environmental (E), Social (S), and Governance (G) aspects. The objective behind it, is to set standards to ensure well informed investors can choose to invest in companies that have good ESG characteristics or in other words can invest with purpose. It is interesting to know that it is not a new concept. It first appeared in several research works initiated by the United Nations 15 years ago. The objective of these studies was to highlight that drivers other than financial were – at least – of equal importance when investing in a company. These drivers, such as how a company addresses environmental issues, how it protects its human capital, how it maintains a corporate culture were all mentioned.

Is there a difference between US and Europe in regard to the commitment to ESG?
Today, the Environment aspect is the central element in Europe, whereas it is the Social aspect in the US. This is quite representative of the different society and political challenges faced on the two sides of the Atlantic. The reality in Europe is that climate change is a huge topic, especially after the Paris conference. It is embraced by politicians and many economic leaders following broad influence by voters and new generations. It took probably a decade to reach a wide adoption of ESG by the financial community as there was a misconception that companies who care about ESG, tend to underperform. The history of the last 10 years shows us this is not true. We saw that the fundamental drivers behind a good integrated ESG also contributed to generate market out-performance.

You have a special way to screen companies on ESG criteria – could you explain briefly?
Fundamentally and in its origin, a good ESG investment will assume that the three elements are well addressed when making a decision. Unfortunately, today, the investments tend to address only one or maybe two of the three elements. Our view is that the three aspects should be addressed in an integrated fashion. In this context, the key among the three ESG elements is the G. When a company is well governed, the board will undoubtedly address a good G, a good E and a good S collectively. Recent academic researchers have demonstrated this by proving that well governed companies have better E and S policies.

How can the “G” be measured?
The methodology we have chosen is one based on natural language processing. It is widely accepted in the linguistic and psychology sciences, that the character of an individual can be defined by the language he is using.

For example, someone saying ‘I’ in every sentence will tend to be ego-centric, while someone using ‘We’ will tend to be more a team-player. To extract the quality of governance, we use the same principle by using a proprietary dictionary of 7’000 words, capturing the G but also the E and S dimensions. These words are positive or negative. We study the appearance of these words in the annual reports of companies and based on how frequently they appear, we can statistically extract the quality of the ESG policy of a company. As the board is responsible for the annual reports, this means that we capture the “tone from the top”. In other words, we can pose a diagnostic on its quality of Governance and how it influences the integration of an ESG policy.

At the end of the day performance matters for an investor. How do ESG products perform compared to their benchmark?
I totally agree. We have seen over the last years that ESG indices have outperformed traditional indices. Some investors stress the fact that the absence of oil & gas companies is explaining this, which is partly true, but it only represents a small contribution. We believe the key is the fact that the majority of companies with true and honest ESG culture are more resilient and agile. Therefore, they tend to outperform their peers on a regular basis. In 2020, this phenomenon has been amplified showing that, in a period of major crisis, a good ESG culture helps to better weather the storm.

How is the demand for ESG-screened products developing and which investors are interested?
There is a massive shift of assets to ESG products, which is good news. It is forcing all companies to comply with E, S and G. This year we saw net-positive flows to ESG funds, while we saw net-negative flows to non-ESG funds.

Many reasons explain this movement. Firstly, many governments have set in place rules to force institutional investors to invest in ESG products and countries like France, Sweden and The Netherlands are leading the charge. Also, many banks are responding to the demand of the new generations – the millennials – who adhere to the need for a change including a change in the way to invest. The trend has been embraced and now there is a need to respond to this demand with more product solutions.

How long do you think it takes companies to adapt to ESG?
The transition will most likely experience an acceleration in the next months and years, but a lot remains to be done. Depending on the countries, it will take a few years to a few decades. The recent outperformance of ESG products vs non ESG products is definitely a trigger to this acceleration. To continue this trend, there are three elements that are essential: first, a good education process to ensure everyone from investors to decision-makers understand how to implement a good ESG culture; second, adoption of industry standards, ensuring that all ESG products respond to ESG rules; third, support the development of a new fully-dedicated ESG industry. In other words, there is a need for more ESG products, more ESG consultants, more ESG product managers to respond to the transition.

ESG ist jetzt im Trend. Was passiert, wenn sich die Unternehmen schnell umstellen und ESG plötzlich alltäglich wird?
It would be perfect! It means we would have done our job. Our objective is to force companies to do well. The reality is different as the vast majority of companies, investors and politicians have not sincerely embraced the concept.

Our belief is that the change will start with board members of all companies being engaged.

In your views, what are the three major challenges faced today to have the financial industry transition fully to ESG?
The ESG industry is still new and still considered as niche by many investors. We are at a turning point as some of the largest institutional investors and ultra-high net worth individuals have started to fully implement ESG. In this context, it will be essential to have a financial industry developing good ESG products, consultants ensuring these products respond to ESG standards, and an integration of the three ESG elements with a clear market outperformance objective.

Photos Copyrights: © Green Blue Invest Portrait Dr. Botteron, Shutterstock

True Gem

Beyer, long established in Zurich, has rebuilt and in the process not left one stone unturned. The result captivates with style, elegance and above all with personality.

2,500 tonnes of recycled copper was extracted in 17 weeks and from 16 tonnes of waste. 35 kilometres of cable were laid and 350 working hours invested in the visualisation programme alone. Those are the hard facts about the conversion of Beyer’s traditional business on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse. The result is, however, less factual, it wins us over predominantly on an emotional level. And this has been the inherent element for decades, when visiting the salesroom on Bahnhofstrasse 31. It is after all mostly associated with indulging in something particularly beautiful, particularly valuable. Or looking for the suitable gift that should show a loved one how treasured they are.

Owner, René Beyer, does not only regard the several million francs that were invested in the new design as an investment in the future, but primarily as a thank you to the loyal clientele «We have been able to count on many families as our guests for several generations, so we are happy to return the favour.» And this present is truly impressive. The floors, ceilings and walls were replaced, there are numerous new showcase elements and everything has been designed to a more generous level. Thematic focuses such as the IWC Corner or the Rolex Gallery entice you to linger. The tables are multifunctional, so that each customer can look forward to an individual consultation on the highest level.

Of course the watch museum on the lower level was not forgotten and was integrated into the conversion. The centrepiece was given a proper revamp. New objects were added to the collection and the frame, in which they are presented, was also restored. Therefore all the preparations have been made for the 50th company anniversary next year. And until then everyone is heartily welcome. Or to say it in René Beyer‘s words: «Of course all those curious to see our shop are heartily welcome – whether they intend to make a purchase or not.»

www.beyer-ch.com

Photos Copyrights: © Beyer

Stylish living

The new year has barely begun and furniture manufacturers are finally allowing us to look at their new collections. This year one trend is leaving all others far behind. No need to say anymore: Retro is back.

KARE DESIGN

The Art Déco Sofa unites with a Mid Century chest and Pop Art objects encounter a classic lounge armchair. Brass lamps and accessories are positioned as individual eye-catchers. “Retro Elegance” in perfection.
www.kare.de

New year, new trends – and one trend is stealing the limelight at the international furniture fairs. 2019 will most definitely be dominated by “Retro Elegance”. Old designs are being re-interpreted and classics such as the Mid-Century Style or Pop Culture are being presented in a modern form. Furniture soloists become eye-catchers in the living area, while organisers spread out in the bedroom and kitchen. We encounter intelligent modular systems, which not only guarantee neatness and tidiness but can be individually combined and are multi-functional.

As far as colour is concerned, there is a divide between colourful and dark-elegant. And grey continues to be a mega trend. However, the colour of the year, according to the international Pantone Colour Institute, is “Living Coral”, and it certainly makes a statement. The same applies to the materials returning to our four walls, brass and gold. Hence the design experts‘ tip: When used selectively, loud colours and striking materials are a real highlight. However, if exaggerated, they can easily become overwhelming. Wood can never be counted out, but there is no clear specification of a particular type. Domestic wood such as oak and walnut fuse with exotic wood, for example, rosewood or teak to create a harmonious appearance. Glass elements and natural stones compliment the look. And in the textile sector velvet is and remains a favourite. Soft, warm and luxurious – the mere sight of a velvet sofa or armchair makes us want to cuddle into it.

The pleasurable one

The philosophy behind the “Stressless” company can be deduced from its name. Its new Dining Collection offers a modern and somewhat different dining area. The table is stylishly supplemented with two “300D” chairs and the Dining Sofa “Spice”.
www.stressless.com

The Versatile one

“Avalanche” is the name of your new friend in terms of relaxation. The multifunctional piece of furniture is a high-back chair, a day bed, a seat with storage or a sunbathing option all in one object. Available in different shapes and colours.
www.cor.de

The Changeable one

“A future needs a past”, with this in mind, the manufacturer “Team 7” surprises us every year with new products made of natural woods. The dining table “Tema” is the perfect spot to spend quality time with the family, friends or a partner. In just one action, the table can be extended by one metre. Different types of wood on request.
www.team7.ch

The classic

The “DS-3011” table series has been a classic at “De Sede” for almost half a century. Now the couch table from the 70s has been given a new design and is experiencing a revival. The edge of the tabletop is covered by a leather band, the individual elements appear to hover in the room.
www.desede.ch

Ethimo

Grand Life is the new „story“ from Ethimo, a Lounge Collection, designed by Christophe Pillet, which will upgrade most elegant outdoor areas to an even higher level. It reminds us of places of timeless beauty with an enchanting and relaxed atmosphere, panoramas that evoke great peace of mind and outdoor areas with modest, comfortable and elegant furniture, which are the expression of the real Italian “Way of Life”.
www.ethimo.com

The enlightening one

Coloured glass combined with a marble base, the Stockholm table lamp’s appeal is primarily down to its minimalistic design. Influencers would presumably refer to it as an It piece.
www.boconcept.de

The Trendsetter

Storage space and decorative miracle, the “Zil” sideboard was created by designer This Weber for the Pfister studio. Clear shapes, high-quality materials and the option of different models make it the ideal choice for both the living and bedroom areas. It is, of course, particularly stylish in this year’s trend colour.
www.pfister.ch

The Assistent

Espresso cup, laptop, book – if you are sitting on the sofa you need an assistant. Namely the perfect side table. Rolf Benz’s “927” model proves to be exactly this.
www.rolfbenz.de

Let there be Lucerna

Lucerna is an exceptionally versatile design object, which exceeds its original function by far: Although it was designed for illuminating outdoor areas, it is also ideal as a decorative element for gardens and terraces, captivating with extraordinary light effects.
www.ethimo.com

Photos Copyrights: Kare, : COR, De Sede, Bo Concept, Ethimo, Pfister, Rolf Benz

The smart bank – N26

Two germans are causing a worldwide sensation with their mobile bank “N26”. In only four years, they have managed to go from startup to international top player. The trick: You take control of all finances in real time using one single app.

Once upon a time there were two frustrated friends. Valentin and Maximilian were thoroughly fed up with the current bank offers and services.

Their conclusion – No digital innovative vision, a lack of transparency and exaggerated fees. But instead of complaining, they rolled up their sleeves and started up their own bank. A bank that fulfilled their expectations. A bank controlled via Smartphone that is a loyal companion to its customers 24 hours, seven days a week. And a bank that managed to reach the top of its sector within only four years following the official product launch. “N26” is the international market leader in Mobile Banking – active worldwide in 24 countries, 2.4 million customers and 700 employees, the facts really speak for themselves.

An easy bank

The secret of success: Reflecting on the essentials. The customer can find all finances in only one app, making banking flexible and transparent. Real time notifications, subaccounts with saving targets, worldwide card payment, loans and insurance contracts, everything controlled from one source. “N26” has a very clear focus on customer needs today. Founder and CEO Valentin Stalf on that subject: “Worldwide far too many people are still using poor bank products and paying overpriced fees. Thanks to our investors, we now have the chance more than ever to shake up one of the largest industries.”

A growing bank

«N26» was developed solely for the Smartphone and as such makes banking simpler, faster and more up-to-date. We have no branches; the customers get money from roughly 9000 partner companies such as major retail chains. A slim IT system backs up the app, which hardly generates costs. This means that individual offers such as current accounts or Master and credit cards can be used for a minimum fee. On a global scale, the company also collaborates with innovative Fintechs to extend their services further. They have just been able to collect 300 million US dollars in another investment round. “N26” will use this funding for their startup on the other side of the pond in the USA. By the way, the name “N26” goes back to the first office premises. They were in Berlin on the street “Unter den Linden 26”. Again illustrating the philosophy of the two founders Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal: Why make something complicated, when it can be created simply and at a low cost.

www.n26.com

„Worldwide far too many people are still using poor bank products and paying overpriced fees. Thanks to our investors, we now have the chance more than ever to shake up one of the largest industries.”

Photos Copyrights: N26

Mister Abstrakt

He felt colours and shapes, art was his life. Wassily Kandinsky ranks among one of the best artists that ever held a paintbrush in his hand and created classics. Reason enough, not only to devote this story to him but also the cover.

Let us begin this story with an “A” as in abstract. And end with “Z”, as in zanily cool. And we’ll do it by talking about Wassily Kandinsky. His character was a guy, who wrote art history. He is the founder of abstract painting and the man who attributed colours and shapes to emotions. He made blue transcendental and attributed the attributes earthly, aggressive and eccentric to yellow. The point became a primary element and the vertical line a warm, white phenomenon. The result of this rethink was pictures, showing the perfect combination of colours and shapes. And which are worth millions to collectors today. For example, the “Study of improvisation 8” from the year 1909 came under the hammer for 23 million dollars.

Wassily himself was born on 16 December 1866 in Moscow and died on 13 December 1944 in the French commune of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Happy? One can never definitively claim that of artists. What is certain is that he could look back on an eventful life. After dropping out of law studies, he devoted himself to art, lived for a long time in Munich and founded the exhibition group “The blue rider” with friends in 1911. As was
the case for many at the time, the First World War determined his place of residence or rather place to live and also his income. However, he was never badly off. His work was a creative potpourri that his second wife managed after his death. And she invested in foundations and art funding. Because courage also requires investors, Kandinsky knew that and his wife knew it too. Therefore to conclude simply a summary: Great guy, classy lady. The result a zanily cool story. Full stop.

Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, München
VG-Bild Kunst, Bonn 2016
Foto: Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung, München
Impression III (Konzert), 1911 Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus München

Business Nomads

Business to go

More and more people are becoming business nomads, preferring flexible job areas to a fixed workplace. A trend that has not gone unnoticed in the furniture sector, as seen at the IMM Cologne and the Salone del Mobile 2018 in Milan.

 

Here today, gone tomorrow – today’s working life is characterised by movement and flexibility. Stationary workplaces, co-working offices or the home office, you work where you are needed or simply can work best. A change, to which interior designers are paying tribute. And in a most intelligent manner.

Experts speak of the spatial fusion of work and free time. We would simply call it flexible workplaces, which are predominantly characterised by digitalisation. Today we no longer need the office, one fixed workplace. Today we can create this space – depending on the job – whenever, wherever and however we want. This especially holds true for the consulting and creative sector, which generally have everything they need for successful daily work in a functioning computer, a smartphone and applicable software such as Skype, Facetime & Co..

Experts speak of the spatial fusion of work and free time. We would simply call it flexible workplaces, which are predominantly characterised by digitalisation. Today we no longer need the office, one fixed workplace. Today we can create this space – depending on the job – whenever, wherever and however we want. This especially holds true for the consulting and creative sector, which generally have everything they need for successful daily work in a functioning computer, a smartphone and applicable software such as Skype, Facetime & Co..

With the Copenhague Desk CPH 90, HAY provides the ideal workplace for all those with limited space. The simple lectern and the classic wooden chair are the perfect duo for those looking for a workplace that can be perfectly integrated into the living area.

The customers define the offer

Designers and responsible parties from the interior industry have recognised this fact and reacted accordingly. COR presented its new COR LAB collection at the start of the year, in which emphasis was placed on support from renowned external designers such as Uwe Fischer from Frankfurt or Pauline Deltour, who lives in Paris, as well as from internal experts. Ligne Roset also focuses on subtlety, creating not only stylish but also striking home offices. And Interieur from Rolf Benz is and remains ae eye-catcher, also in the office.

Creativity flows in the Freistil 149 from Rolf Benz. The original form of the armchair has been reinterpreted, but the protective aura remains. The chair is available in different colours and also as special edition.

Designed as a place of retreat, the furniture concept Floater, with its comfortable upholstery and adequate workspace, offers an area for creative work. Designer Pauline Deltour created this collection on order for the German brand COR.

If you look at the experts for office furnishings, it becomes apparent that customers today are presented with functional classics offering long life and clever, surprising features. In their new collections, USM Haller and Girsberger mainly present great pieces for the interior design of co-working workplaces. And of course these can be perfectly integrated into the home working area. Everything is included for the right lighting from standard lamps to the funny little man table lamp.

It does not take much to be good

In general, with a view to the ideal working place, it can also be said that a good desk, clever storage space and a comfortable chair form the perfect trio for doing a good job. The rest is a question of individual style. Two, three small items should always be considered in addition to good lighting, regardless of how extravagant or minimalistic your needs. The surface of the desk should be easy to clean, should not be too sensitive to spills and you will have more from the surface of your seating if it is ergonomically formed.

 

Photos Copyrights: © Hay, Rolf Benz, COR, USM Haller, De Sede, Moll, Coolinarium, Ligne Roset;

Best known for classic furniture, Ligne Roset also offers a stylish selection for the business nomad’s perfect workplace. The bureau Mural may be interpreted as a treasure chest, which is transformed into a secure locker when not in use. Nubo is also a beautiful wall design that can be converted into a desk in a matter of seconds. And Rewrite is the ultimate piece for all those creative minds, who love minimalistic elegance.

Even if the name sounds somewhat unspectacular, the DS-515 from De Sede is a real eye-catcher for the home office. Leather and steel in perfect combination provide sitting comfort over a long period. It was designed by Studio Greutmann Bolzern, Zurich.

Uwe Fischer designed the perfect combination of height-adjustable table (Level) and matching upholstered bench (Bridge) for the COR company. It is a pleasure to hold meetings, have heated writing work phases or even to take a break at this duo.

Getty images

Appearance does matter!

The visual trends for 2018 come under the melodious titles Masculinity undone, second renaissance und conceptual realism. Sounds exciting, but above all foreign. What is behind the forecasts from the image agency Getty Images?

Seriously, we do not officially read our annual horoscope for the coming year but nonetheless we are a little bit unsettled if it does not turn out as we would have hoped for the New Year. The same is true for trend forecasts. Ultimately, everyone knows what is coming, with the countless statements that can be found on almost every subject at the end of the old and beginning of the New Year. Both digitally and in print. One, who is always in on the act, is the image agency Getty Images. The company that belongs to the billionaire Mark Harris Getty predicts the visual trends for the coming year with uncanny regularity. And in 2018 these tally with the names Masculinity undone, Second Renaissance and Conceptual Realism. And that requires explanation. Somehow. A little.

Masculinity undone

Getty uses registered search terms over the past year as a basis for the forecast. So which research terms are entered most frequently and in what combination? The team of researchers and art directors also incorporates worldwide consumer and company behaviour in its analyses. The evaluation from 2017 showed that the «real man» or «tough» guy is played out. Today he is allowed to be somewhat softer, more emotional and to wear his –>
masculinity in a more reserved almost shy manner. In comparison with other word combinations, Getty registered an extremely high proportional increase for the search terms homosexual father, meditating father and single father on a worldwide scale. In 2018 men will not necessarily be more feminine, but rather with fewer edges. The first conclusion from one of the largest image agencies is therefore: Masculinity undone.

Second Renaissance

The second trend is characterised by the fact that today everyone is able to take a picture at any given time, thanks to Smartphones and other digital appendages. As a result the art of photography has fallen a little by the wayside, however in particular the appreciation for trained photographers. They are therefore choosing another path now, seeking inspiration in art history and breathing new life into the renaissance. Portraits are becoming stagings, faces works of art. Subdued colours and precious materials are used to create the look. Getty derives this «Second Renaissance» from the registered search terms abstract & luxurious as well as vintage & portrait.

Conceptual Realism

To conclude the trio, Getty also defined «Conceptual Realism» as a new trend. This means breaking down to the essentials, that people want images that are more real again. Alternatively: Authenticity in times in which many question what and whom they can still believe. Influencers here, software programmes there, digitalisation makes manipulation simple. In 2018 more and more pictures will appear which are characterised by their realistic style, but will also surprise us. Because reality will show new facets and they will be well constructed. Gut feeling may be good, but strategy and a solid concept are valuable. The search here was for the words reality and unexpected concept.

Well done

2018 will certainly be an exciting year on a visual scale, at least if Getty is proven right with his image horoscope. Ultimately, the only remaining question is for whom the forecast from the image agency makes sense? The answer: Brands and companies and a whole string of communication agencies. Because the times, in which we acquired customers with an advertising photo in the form of a poster, are over. Today target groups are defined, their expectations drafted and this provides the information on how they can be contacted. If you hit the right visual nerve once, you are in a good position. Because in the end it is like in the horoscope mentioned at the beginning: If the message holds true for one, the level of satisfaction increases.

Photos Copyrights: StockSnap, Shutterstock/Richard Lyons
Photos Copyrights: StockSnap

A perfect appearance

Whereas other brands spend a lot of money on testimonials, the company
owner is also the top brand ambassador at the Italian shoe manufacturing company Santoni. Read about what he does differently and what he does better.

He is good. Really good. I would even say that Signor Giuseppe Santoni from Corridonia, a small Italian village, is perfect. Not only because his product is perfect. He is good because he comes across as extravagant and exclusive as the shoes made by his company. And who can be a better brand ambassador than the managing director himself? Giuseppe Santoni does not act a role; he simply is himself. He loves beautiful, expensive things and is very crazy about detail. Good is not good enough for him; he wants it to be different and better. He is a personality, in everyday life and all the more in his profession. Everyone in the fashion industry knows the man who exclusively wears blue suits and shoes. The man who even has his pyjamas made to measure and describes his own shoes as something “you don’t need but must have.”

Giuseppe Santoni does not like the mass. And enviers might throw in that with his body height he would be swallowed up in it. But no matter what drives this man from Central Italy, he loves it exotic and chic. According to his own statement, saving is not his cup of tea. But he only spends money if the offer is worthwhile. Rarity, quality and passion are details that he appreciates. It is therefore not surprising that cars and watches make his heart beat faster. He has great respect for everything that boasts quality and passion. And for people who do not accept mediocrity. And that is exactly the secret behind the Santoni brand which has been successful for more than 40 years.

His father Andrea was just like him; he did not want to be one among many but looked for, and found, his own way. Signor Santoni sen. was convinced that only timeless design in combination with top quality would sell in the long run. Especially in times when mass-produced glued shoes from Asia flooded the market. Andrea Santoni was also aware that there were enough shoemakers, both good and bad, who were up to their tricks in his home country Italy. That is why he flew to America in the mid-1970’s with the first shoe collection hand-made by him and his wife in their living room and absolutely outstanding in terms of quality. And his plan worked. The American connoisseurs practically tore the elegant Italian shoes out of his hands and the Asians and Europeans also gradually became aware that a Santoni pair of shoes are the ne plus ultra.

Detail is what counts

In 1990, Andrea Santoni officially handed over the factory and the responsibility for about 500 employees to his son. By the way, without the requirement to continue to pursue uncompromising craftsmanship in the future.

. But a change to automated production was never an option for his son. In his opinion, you’ve got to have the right feel of a genius craftsman for making a Santoni shoe. And a machine has no passion. It does not concern itself with the product. He does not want people to do something because they have to. He wants each shoe to be made in pursuit of perfection or, to use his words, under the “crazy about detail” motto. This guiding principle that everyone does what he can do best is therefore applicable throughout his company. Giuseppe Santoni would never meddle in the work of the employees in the factory halls. “This is where Dad Andrea and Mum Rosa still have the say.”

Giuseppe Santoni instead concentrates on the development of new models and the marketing and presentation of the brand. In recent years, he made comprehensive investments in a re-branding of the design and in the marketing and public relations work. He continuously seeks product partners who manufacture with the same passion and the same high quality standards as his factory. He found that, for example, at the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC and the sports car brand Mercedes AMG. He has had partner-like relations with both of them for many years and this has often resulted in limited editions.

He also attaches great importance to good contacts with the VIP world. He enjoyed welcoming the actor Sylvester Stallone in person when he made a stopover in Italy on his promotion tour for the Rocky remake. Italy is by the way the home country of Stallone’s father. Because the good man’s real name is Staglione. George Clooney is also a regular customer of Santoni and he immediately made it clear to his advertising partner Nespresso that he would do anything but only in Santoni shoes. The hearthrob and his cast colleague, actor Jean Dujardin, insisted on wearing Santoni shoes during the shooting of a spot.

And those are the things that make Giuseppe Santoni happy but for which he would never pay. He knows about the quality of his products and he has a company to run. In times of digitalisation, investments are therefore made for example in the expansion of the sales channels. The recently initiated digital ‘customizer’ that can be used on the website is one of the results.

It allows the customers to give the Carter double buckle model their favourite colour with just a few clicks and to have their own initials engraved in the sole of the shoes if desired. They will then be delivered four to six weeks later at a price of approximately EUR 790.00.

There is always a way to make it even more personal.

Whereas future-oriented thinking applies to the product portfolio marketing and sales, that is not the case for the manufacture. As already mentioned, the production remains traditional. Series production requires about 170 work steps that require 30 hours of work done by 100 pairs of hands. Finally, female art students from Milan apply the die brushstroke by brushstroke. Those who want even more order a pair of hand-made bespoke shoes in the price range of a small car. However, for that, Antoni will have planed an individual shoe last in his small corner in the warehouse, Sauro will have cut the leather by hand and Luigi will have sewn the shoe with 600 stitches.

It can therefore be truly said that much personality has gone into such shoes. In a figurative sense of course. Because Santoni is a lifestyle and not simply a brand.
And how Bella Vita works is shown par excellence by the CEO each day. 

 

 

Photos Copyrights: Santoni