ECCO Leather’s 10th Hot-Shop
“Creativity, open-mindedness and fun means success”
The Hot-Shop is a 3-day creative summit focused on leather (which Damienmarc “knew nothing about”), product design, technology and tanning-craft – all pulled into the worlds of the unconventional.
Ben & Steph of design agency Lyon & Lyon, based in London and our newest member in Amsterdam,
Damienmarc Ford – an Interaction Designer at TU Delft – joined 12 teams of creatives who had never met each other before in Dongen, Netherlands (“always useful for a young designer at the beginning of his career” says Damienmarc). They were given full access to the world’s largest R&D/Leather-Tanning Development facility and all it’s incredible technicians (and we mean full access – no machine, no technique, no hide was left unturned!).
“There are some folks in the industry who think we’re crazy, we know the truth; when you allow a diverse group – industrial designers, fashion designers, architects, interactive techies, artists, marketeers, visionaries, material-specialists etc etc – into your kitchen; amazing things can happen”. Panos Mytaros (ECCO CEO and ‘enfant terrible’)
Invented by Panos and Bhanita Mistry-Russell (Program Facilitator at The Forward Institute and CEO at LAB and innovation consultancy) the summit has an open circle ethos where failing, prototyping, collaboration, cross-pollination and experimentation without boundaries are key.
As you can imagine the team at Makerversity jump at being involved in these kinds of initiatives – with this year one of our own staff proudly taking the helm as a Team Leader; balancing personalities, creative adventure, time, deliverables and alcohol intake!
There are three stages of development and presentation to the Hot-Shop: concept, leather and finally product. Part of the Hot-Shop’s magic is the constant curiosity it creates which for Damienmarc included being able to see “the entire real tanning process live and also be a part of it too. Blew my expectations away” and for Ben it became very clear he “didn’t know even half of what was in store. Before Hot-Shop I thought I had a good understanding of materials but this whole process taught me to look at all materials in a more inquisitive way. Yes; we learnt an absolutely insane amount about leather of course but moreover it highlighted the power of creative collaboration.”
“Working outside your comfort zone with such a diverse team of people is one of the toughest things you can do professionally” says Ben Lyon. “But Hot-Shop taught us that incredible outcomes can be achieved by expanding your knowledge and experience away from your expertise. The naivety really helped the creative process”.
There are no egos, no VIP area nor ‘polite’ borders between companies with many big brands and senior designers who in the normal world (outside the craziness of Hot-Shop) would be in direct competition. Liam Maher (VP Global Creative Director of ECCO) believes this is what makes it work so well as an environment for innovation – this rings true at our Makerversity facilities also.
For Ben “at Hot-Shop it was humbling to see everyone working together to create truly innovative solutions in an incredibly short space of time.” ’Hot-Shoppers’ are chosen because they contribute high levels of passion, imagination, energy and fun. They come from from brands like Oculus, Apple, Alexander Wang, Adidas, Nike, Rolls Royce, Fritz Hansen, The Last Conspiracy, Huawei, Art Comes First, Method Furniture, Iris van Herpen and Denham the Jeanmaker”.
“I wanted to see if our skills in branding and storytelling would translate in to an arena that we have very little knowledge in. We’re always looking for that hook in a concept. I was able to bring focus alongside Lyon&Lyon’s positivity, humour and confidence to our team’s big idea to ensure our outcome was as strong and clear as it could be.” says Ben.
Being hooked by the leather development Damienmarc discovered “leather is far more interesting and full of potential than i previously thought. If you take camel leather of a light tan colour, spray it with a dark pigment, double compress it with a small grain organic emboss, buff / sand the pigment away to leave darker grooves, repeat that 3 times, you get something that looks like cork!
If you go for a route exploring sustainability in tanning by taking leftover leather scraps of different colour gradients and grind them up into pulp, get a thin sheet of soft leather, apply glue and sprinkle the pulp in a gradient effect from top to bottom then compress with a small hexagon emboss for a really tasty effect – you’ve got a material that we branded Sea Gypsy! Right from the beginning I had a product I wanted to make which would have fitted the team’s concept – but I went by the Hot-Shop ten commandments and let the process of exploration lead the way. In the end I was very happy and proud of our final product and effects. And I really loved the ‘crackle’ leather effect one of the teams created.”
Both Ben and Damienmarc certainly didn’t expect that after each of their team’s rapid concept stage they would be pitching the vision, narrative and product “all 3 times in front of 130 reputable designers from 83 countries in the centre of a Bucky ball (a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome)” says Damienmarc. “I had to keep my nerves in check which is especially hard after nursing a savage hangover on the last day! God bless the bucket of ibuprofen the Hot-Shop team delivered.”
“The number one expectation of the Hotshop is to have fun. If you don’t have fun you will not achieve anything” according to Panos. Perhaps that’s why there was the occasional break-out session to go paintballing, the dance floor had flame-throwers blasting overhead and why on Thursday morning upon leaving the hotel bright and early no busses turn up. No no; the Hot-Shop team (imagineered by Elles and Anke) had 120 Solex motors ticking over for a hangover-clearing commute. Last year it was tandems…next year; well who knows!
Watch last year’s Hot-Shop #9 round up here…
A massive thank you to our friends at ECCO Leather for bringing Makerversity and our members in to their open circle.