Tom Holloway

Fjord London Internship Day 2016

On the 14th April, 30 bright sparks sauntered into the Fjord London studio ready to impress us with their wares, it was that time of the year again.

The start time was 8.30am sharp, which the interns were more than happy to stick to, unlike the groggy eyed Fjord team whom strolled in only to find hungry potential interns looking for somewhere to park themselves. Mild panic ensued, followed by a whirlwind transformation of the downstairs seating area into a ‘Luxury Activity Space™’ and the arrival of a lorry load of breakfasts. I was personally very impressed by our participants’ ability to consume so much breakfast so quickly; a healthy appetite is always a good sign.

Once the food had been swiftly devoured, Dominic Quigley, design director at Fjord London, set the scene for the days agenda and handed over to Michele Chang-McGrath, design director, who provided a pep-filled introduction to the ethos of Fjord and breakdown of what this plucky group of potential interns had gotten themselves into. Next up was Kostja Paschalidis, a senior designer at Fjord London, who walked us through a recent government client project that had recently been completed. We then heard a little bit about what’s happening within the Fjord Visual Design Guild from Dominic Quigley and got to see some of the work being produced by the team.

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Once everyone was suitably tired of PowerPoint’s (or Keynotes depending on your gang allegiances) it was time to finally hear from the mouths’ of our guests. We’d asked each of them to bring in an object that they could talk about for one minute. This practice is a Fjord internship day fundamental and we were not disappointed by this year ‘s object offering.  They included three cameras, a typewriter, a bra, a showerhead, a banana, a necklace/vibrator, and 22 other junk-shop treasures.

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Once the Fjord Bazaar (a showcase of recent work) had closed, we moved on to the day’s main event. Michele introduced the interns to the briefs they would be working on. Unlike previous years, this time there were five separate briefs, one for each group. The theme of the day was shopping, and thanks to the studio’s close proximity to Oxford Street, there was no shortage of targets for our teams to get involved with. The briefs ranged from finding an alternate use for Nike’s many, many, many screens, to reconsidering how Pret offers lunch as a service.

With each team assigned a target and a team leader, they scurried off to invade whatever corner of the studio they could claim as their own. Once territory claims had been asserted, the teams went off to engage in some guerrilla research, clandestine infiltration of some of the largest shops in the UK commenced, all in the name of in-depth cultural probing, of course. With teams charging towards Oxford Street, a temporary sense of peace washed over the office, a mild calm before an intense storm of creative juices and Post-It notes.

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Lunch was a quick affair, as outlined by Dom Quigley’s masterfully enforced schedule (the technical term was ‘working lunch’, or ‘Dining Al Desko’). With diagonally cut sandwiches in hand, work continued at a furious pace, with the creative juices now at real risk of leaving the Fjord office with permanent water damage. Whilst a whirlwind of flip-board sized post-its provided a Sharpie stained layer of wallpaper. Soon time was up and our teams were tasked with presenting their ideas to the dragons, three senior Fjordians who put their scary faces on.

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First up was Team Tomomi and the Nike brief. The team was tasked with breathing new life into Nike’s magic formula, whilst attempting to steer clear of tech fetishism. Focusing on finding an alternate use for the many screens that populate the Nike store. The team went down the digital changing room route, hoping to reengage time strapped customers who would otherwise be disinterested with the prospect of having to try on clothes. This would also give Nike the ability to sell a wider range of clothing without impacting on shop floor real estate, and by building social network integration it would increase Nike coverage on those platforms.

The second team was Team Gloria and the Topshop brief. Fresh off the release of Beyoncé’s new line of Ath-leisure wear (‘Athletic leisure’ for those who aren’t familiar with Urban Dictionary) the team were challenged to create a sustainable service of the back of a fast-fashion campaign. Inspired to bring the shoppers into Beyoncé’s world of ‘Ivy Park’ and therefore build a sensory connection to the clothing they purchase, the team suggested a VR experience in store along-side a series of free work out sessions when an article of clothing is purchased.

Next up was Team Tom. They were given the task of finding a new way of delivering digital health services by leveraging Boots’ extensive network of brick and mortar shops. Turning their attention to sexual health, the team suggested a sexual health service aimed at supporting those that may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed seeking help. By utilising digital kiosks to assist those too embarrassed to talk face-to-face, along-side a redesign of in-store advice services, they aimed to contrast the often clinical approach pharmacies have in dealing with sexual health.

Then came Team Nick and the Marks and Spencer’s brief. Assigned with using digital to drive compelling new clothing services in store, the team focused their sights on answering the (digital)age old question of ‘Will it fit me?’ By suggesting in-house tailors that can digitalise your measurements, along-side a size tracker built into the M&S website that will watch which clothes you are ordering and adjust sizes when necessary.  The team hoped to tap into a rich vein of un-mined sizing data.

And last but not least, it was Team Andre with the Pret brief. Tasked with redesigning lunch as a service, the team looked towards how they could offer a more customisable food offering. Developing on Pret’s impressive ability to create all their sandwiches in store, they suggested mix and match sandwich packs along with tailor-made lunch box deals, all controlled remotely from an app. The aim being to allow customers to have a greater menu selection without having to significantly increase the variety of sandwiches that had to be made.

A very impressive show from all teams, but unfortunately there could only be one winner, and after careful deliberation the dragons finally decided on… the Boots brief! Prizes were handed out and applause all round. A big well done to the team who went all out in creating a superb service that impressed the dragons and me alike. A personal thanks from me to the team, who were unaware for most of the day that I was actually still an intern myself, as I’m sure that it was a mutual exchange of knowledge all round and I definitely learnt a lot from my day as team leader with you.

Congrats to all those involved, I know I had an enjoyable day and I hope you all did as well.

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Tom Holloway

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