Blunders, fuckups, gaffes…From the good old days when You’ve Been Framed paid £250 for every clip they showed to joyous Schadenfreude, everyone loves seeing people make pigs ear of things. That’s why last night’s Nicer Tuesdays all about Failures was a roaring success. Oh, and the fact the speakers were really bloody great.First to the stage was Matteo Fogale, an industrial designer who established London-based studio brose~fogale in 2013. He talked us through the trials and tribulations of his Kickstarter project selling a flatpack valet stand. The problem wasn’t the funding – it raised 122% of its funding target – but in the actual distribution. A period of mania, Big Yellow Storage boxes and learning about everything from shipping and distribution to customer relations ensued. Still, from days flyering about the project to the people of Broadway Market (a shrewdly chosen audience if ever there was one) to get funding to making sure that each and every order arrived, it was an experience Matteo hadn’t anticipated, but one that taught him a lot.Studio Swine, that photogenic Anglo-Japanese design studio that seems to have a bloody marvellous time jaunting about the world and making pretty things, showed us that even people like them are prone to a cock-up or several. Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves met at the RCA in 2011, and admit that their “first big mistake” was in calling themselves Studio Swine at all. Following a post-art college spell of things not going quite as planned, they decided “we had to get much better or leave London.” So they went to Sao Paulo, with no contacts, no plans and a flat with no furniture or white goods. But it did have two swimming pools. Perhaps not such a failure after all. Their globetrotting tales recounted the things that you’d think would hold them back, but in fact hadn’t: whether it was making something beautiful from human hair or trying to make a portable furnace to burn discarded plastic found in the sea with, they’ve overcome it all.
While Studio Swine’s self initiated projects were a bloody pain for them, design studio Kin’s creative director Matt Wade showed us a few times things have gone rather wrong in client projects, too. Matt’s frank, hilarious and bum-clenching stories were brilliant to hear, but perhaps once very, very painful to recall. We hear about the time they created an installation for Adidas with a laser that measured the speed of a ball, only to be broken by a kick from an over-zealous 15-year-old just moments before the brand’s CEO arrived to see it. Then there was the time Kin created 38 audio installations for Tommy Hilfiger, and each and every one of them broke. There appeared to be numerous blunders working for Nokia, not least commissioning a man he thought had drawn Jessica rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but actually hadn’t and hadn’t the foggiest idea about anything to do with animation.Rounding off our night of mishaps was James Greenfield, founder of creative agency Koto, and once of Design Studio where he led that little-mentioned Airbnb rebrand. He talked us through a wonderful and varied career in the design industry, taking in stints at the Masons’ magazine and in the world of advertising, which he hated – “they didn’t care about typography or colour values, the culture was zero.” He’s a man who seems to take failures on the chin, and boy has he learnt a lot, not least that “failure = a place you never want to return to.”Thanks as always to Park Communications, to everyone who came and to all our speakers. Nicer Tuesdays will return in September when the theme will be photography.