Our fifth event in a row, these evenings are an opportunity to gather close collaborators, clients and friends of the studio for some stimulating conversations with old pals and new connections. We always give them a creative theme, reflecting on our interests that year, and in the past have tackled everything from analogue technology to edible design systems and, last year, a branding pub quiz. That was such a success that we knew 2018 had something to live up to.
The venue this year was Tibits – a casual but stylish vegetarian restaurant in nearby Southwark Street, with a cosy private garden room. We quickly decided on a theme: ‘Lost in Translation’. A lot of our work is increasingly about bridging gaps in our clients’ worlds – where strategy is lost in translation from the management to the shop floor, or cultural differences obfuscate meanings across borders. So we wanted to play somehow on language and cultural difference.
After deliberating about other quiz-style formats from game shows to speed dating, we ended up developing something of our own. Teams had to open envelopes hidden under their seats, which started them off on a trail of clues to popular sayings from around the world – the kind of phrases that make total sense if you’ve grown up with them, but seem totally nuts (and occasionally inspired) to anyone else.
For example, in Sweden, if you ‘slid in on a shrimp sandwich’, you would have been hired on the basis of something other than your expertise. In Spain, ‘a lot of noise and no walnuts’ means ‘all talk and no action’. If the situation can’t be changed in France you might say ‘the carrots are cooked!’.
Our guests had to solve various riddles to find missing words in these type of phrases, such as pictograms, mini-crosswords and ‘what connects these four images?’. Then they hot-footed it to our wall of words for the next question (if they got it right).
Once all seven teams had solved their final questions, we settled down for a deliciously vegetarian (and suitably international) buffet meal and wines from Laithwaite’s.
As ever, some great conversations were had between those catching up and those meeting for the first time, including quite a few new guests. See you all next year – what on earth are we going to do then?
Joseph Harries is Design Director at GW+Co