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The Next Frontier of Design: The Power of ‘Custom’

As the market becomes increasingly competitive for both practitioner and client alike, never has the power of custom design been more in demand.



BY David Congram

May 8th, 2017


Perhaps it is the curse of working in a millennial workforce. Perhaps it is the curse of my particular profession. In either, or indeed both cases, I am nonetheless constantly explaining what my job (precisely) is. As an editor and journalist working in the design and publishing industries, I’m not surprised that people find it difficult to grasp what my average working day would look like. In fact I, myself, find it difficult to grasp. Normally, it’s chewing through a million emails and phone-calls; it’s a lot of typing and Microsoft office suite; it’s a lot (and I really mean a lot) of note-taking in shorthand, scribbling ideas for angles on post-its, and always keeping a biro behind my ear.

On the best days, it’s getting out and about, visiting sites for interviews, and chatting to some very inspiring individuals. And, while I find architecture and design in all its forms fascinating, I can’t seem to shirk a penchant for corporate spaces. There is something unique and inherently attractive to the ‘strategy’ (for lack of a better word) of design for the corporate sector. This is a world where design from the smallest of details to the enormity of the structure itself is harnessed for gain, growth, and fulfilling objectives. Quite simply, it is a world where design is required to perform for success.

I visit a lot of workplaces. Some are stunning (where design is merely required to impress). Most are unremarkable (where design need only facilitate utility). But a few – very few – are intelligent solutions to supporting brands’ unique identities.

Immersive Branding: Fujitsu, Perth

When WMK Architecture took on reimagining the Perth offices for Fujitsu – a Japanese multinational information technology conglomerate – creative teams quickly discovered they were operating in a highly oversaturated sector of the market. You see, according to Gartner Incorporated (the world’s leading information technology advisory company), global spending in the information tech sector is expected to topple $3.5 trillion by the end of 2017, an enormous 7.2 per cent growth from the previous year. Add commercial electrical appliances to the mix, and Fujitsu is certainly operating in a highly competitive market share worldwide – so, expressing the company’s brand equity via a holistic and (all importantly) bespoke design solution was central to the success of the project.

Teaming up with Gibbon Group, WMK sought to really make a statement about Fujitsu’s unique approach and service delivery within this space. After seeing an example of the Tretford Custom range – made and supplied throughout Australia by Gibbon Group Architectural – the two creative teams worked on an alternative design solution that spoke to the individuality and innovation at the core of the Fujitsu brand.

The finished result? Refined yet contemporary. Bold yet considered. Simple yet stylish and (appropriately) very, very high-tech! What is remarkable about the collaboration, however, is the manner in which the custom approach seamlessly integrated the brand’s physical presence and space with the strong visual identity of its intranet, web portals, traditional marketing activities and, finally, its products too.

Situated at the heart of the Fujitsu Perth Office entrance, this custom feature (pictured) plays artfully with the brand’s iF Award-winning communication design: its confident graphic qualities, its sleek and streamlined aesthetic – all perfectly articulating the company’s philosophy of connectivity.

“Through our constant pursuit of innovation, the Fujitsu Group aims to contribute to the creation of a networked society that is rewarding and secure, bringing about a prosperous future” – Rod Vawdrey, Fujitsu Group CEO.

Riffing on this visual concept of connectivity, Tretford’s custom rug solution was used to replicate the network mapping of Fujitsu’s systems. The tessellated leitmotif replicates, that is, the processes of Fujitsu’s products in an interconnected web and the creation of an integrated community of users, while still speaking to the geometric nature of the company’s corporate branding.

In a muted tonal scheme redolent of traditional Japanese male kimono fabrics, a variety of greys and blues accent the predominantly red Fujitsu collateral throughout. As a complete custom service, Tretford Custom Rugs allow for absolutely bespoke design outcomes – shape, size and colour profiles.

Essential and streamlined furnishings – while obviously lending a degree of versatility and flexibility – co-operate with the pared-back simplicity of the carpet’s graphic features.

In the case of Fujitsu, the creative teams sought to articulate both the company’s philosophy of an integrated world via technology, yet also wished to celebrate the Fujitsu heritage as one of Japan’s premier commercial giants and industrial innovators. Borrowing inspiration from traditional Japanese fan motifs, simplified linework and bold forms speak to a brand that is both steeped in tradition but confident in a constantly innovating future.

With the consultation process, the team at Gibbon Group helped rework the design through multiple iterations which produced a result that the customer was ultimately very happy with.

Follow the Tretford Custom Rug journey here.


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