Boys & Toys

EbOY web

In honour of hooking up with EbOY today at the Design & Multimedia Inspiration sesh in Birmingham (courtesy of 4Talent West Midlands) here’s the Web through the eyes of the EbOYz.

I first came across EbOY in the studio of designer Paul Smith in London’s Covent Garden about three years ago. He was a big advocate of their work and incorporated it at that time in a diverse range of clothing and products, which was a big break for them, not least in Japan where their approach is so on the same wavelength.

One thing EbOY and Paul Smith have in common is a propensity to surround themselves with inspirational objects. Paul Smith’s spacious office is punctuated with bric-a-brac, books, stuff he’s picked up abroad, things people have sent him (often just slapping stamps on the thing itself and turning it into a bulky postcard). Likewise EbOY have wicker baskets full of toys and masks and other inspirations tidily stashed in their offices – that’s three separate studios across Berlin making up what is in effect a virtual studio.

Two important things I’ve learned from the two design outfits:

Paul Smith speaks about his wife of long-standing with great love and appreciation. She has clearly been a huge inspiration throughout his career – from the humble shop in Nottingham to a global design powerhouse – and he clearly and warmly acknowledges this in public.

EbOY have made their play their work. Their early designs derive from toys and the kind of drawing many seven year old boys imagine their way into. Those roots are still clearly in evidence. I can’t remember who, some old Chinese fella with a long white beard I think, said: if your work is your passion, then you’ll never work a day in your life – or (much neater) words to that effect.

That’s what I strive for and here’s the latest incarnation: the Big Art Mob. What it has, beside the focus on something I love anyway (public art), is one other key element – a worthwhile public/social purpose (recording, discussing, sharing and enjoying that art). Those two components are in my eyes what separates the boys from the men – and long may I be a boy enjoying toys.

18 comments so far

  1. ArkAngel on

    George Bernard Shaw:

    We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

  2. Practical Psychologist on

    Arkangel I have written about the play at work theme quite a bit. The challenge is as always to make the link in administrative jobs or other types of less obviously playful roles, where it becomes harder. But the fact that so many people do it in apparently the most tedious of surroundings says that it is possible. It is to me a combination of your attitude, best fit between you and the ‘job’ you do and an honesty with yourself about the kind of person you are. There are a couple of great books on this. The first is ‘The Play Ethic’ by Pat Kane who was, believe it or not the singer with Hue and Cry – he says ‘the opposite of play is depression’. The other you probably know of which is Mike Csiksentimihaly’s book on ‘Flow’.

    There was also the quote that Mark Brown put me on to from Mark Twain ‘Make Your vocation your vacation”.

    In my Positive Thinking book I say this (and believe it): ‘Not many of us on our death-bed will say ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’. But we might say ‘I wish I’d had more fun while I was there’. 80,000 hours (roughly the amount of time we spend ‘at work’ in our lives) is an awfully long time to be pissed off.

  3. Practical Psychologist on

    I have just re-read a great book on memory – Why life speeds up as we get older’ by Douwe Draaisma. It reminded me (ha!) that so much of what we remember is remembered because it happened for the first time and so many of those first time experiences happened when we were younger. That’s why our younger days seemed to last forever whereas after 35 the big acceleration begins. There is less that is memorable and therefore so many ‘lost days’.

    Play creates new experiences and therefore stronger memories and I believe we owe it to ourselves to maximise our play. I know cynics will laugh at this but I really feel that those who point the finger at others for their inability to play at work need to examine themselves first.

    I use this quote in my seminars and in my books ‘When was the last time you did something for the first time’. It’s a powerful question to ask yourself and a great trigger to start playing again.

  4. ArkAngel on

    I’m chairing a session about Informal Learning with Pat Kane next week – it’s Channel 4 Education’s spring conference called ‘In The Wild’:

    “This unique event will bring over 200 young people, educators, policy makers and representatives of the broadcast and digital media worlds together to explore some of the most important challenges facing young people as they are growing up today and some of ideas that are shaping the future of output of Channel 4 Education. We have arranged a great roster of speakers including

    * Richard Reeves, Nick Baylis and Kathy Evans on well being
    * James Bradburne, Pat Kane and Penelope Tobin on informal learning
    * Bronwyn Kunhardt, Rachel O’Connell and Ewan McIntosh on living online
    * Matthew Taylor, Mike Gibbons and Anna Craft on next practice in schools”

  5. ArkAngel on

    So when was the last time you did something for the first time?

  6. ArkAngel on

    That’s not just for Practical Psychologist by the way, feel free to join in!

  7. ArkAngel on

    To kick things off, I’ll go a bit prospective on that one – I’m going to buy a piece of soapstone for the first time tomorrow morning. Then I’m going to give it to my younger son to carve. And then I’m going to carve a second bit. Hopefully plenty of mess will be involved.

  8. Practical Psychologist on

    I would be very interested in knowing a bit more about PK. Anyone who is interested in education may enjoy the following clip:

    The last time I did something for the first time?

    1. Making ‘tubby’ custard – friday
    2. Making a conscious effort to understand science and geology – which spurred me to buy ‘Homo Britannicus’ last week

  9. Practical Psychologist on

    I think the thing about doing something for the first time is not just about the big things but also about the day to day stuff too. I wasn’t joking when I said making ‘tubby custard’ for my daughters. I will remember that day so much more than if I hadn’t. Each day has something to define it. That is what is important.

    It isn’t just about the obviously good stuff either. Freud was right when he said that at the end ‘the struggle’ is what we reflect on. We fought and got through it. A bland existence with little venture and what do we have to reflect on? I regularly read Frankl’s ‘Doctor and the Soul’ and I always reflect on what he says about those who fear death. They are the people who are guilty about what they haven’t done or tried to do in life.

  10. dan on

    last weekend i stayed with some friends and went trampolining for the first time in my adult life, with their 3 kids. i was promptly beaten up by a 7, 8 and 10 year old. it was memorable tho.

    2 weeks ago i went to a garden centre for the first time to buy plants to fill my balcony. it was surprisingly uplifing, and now i’m cultivating chili, tomato, rocket, strawberries and numerous herbs.

    3 weeks ago i ate crocodile for the first time. it wasnt memorable or uplifting, but porky

  11. ArkAngel on

    Now you’re not getting away with that – how and where did you come to be eating crocodile? was it free range?
    And when you say porky – as in tasting like pig? or out of shape?

  12. dan on

    It was on my last night in bangkok, and yes it probably was free range as it was in a swanky restaurant that seemed quite progressive. I was assured it had lived life to the full, with lots of sunbathing and winking. It tasted like pork, and looked like a cross between chicken and pork meat.

    Todays first – I purchased my 1st Flickr pro account.

    This weekend I thought I was doing a first by watching a south korean film (The Host) but i’ve just realised Oldboy was from SK. Suspect instead this weekend’s first will be re-potting my champion sun flowers…

  13. ArkAngel on

    What pushed you over the edge to go Pro?

  14. ArkAngel on

    PP, in the light of your comments about Doctor & the Soul I imagine you have strong feelings on the risk aversion in our contemporary culture?

  15. ArkAngel on

    PP, by chance just come across this quotation from Theodore Roosevelt which relates to your recent points:

    “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

  16. Practical Psychologist on

    Arkangel – sorry for the delay. I have just arrived in Kosovo. Your comments on risk aversion apply here. The only route out of poverty (half of Kosovo live on less than two dollars a day) is education but current educational practices to my mind do not encourage the freeing of the creative risk-taking spirit.

    I half agree with your risk averse comments. Never have the opportunities been greater for those who want to take a risk and many do just that. I think the risk aversion takes over where things go wrong and we have got ourselves into a frame of mind that, if things go wrong they are someone else’s fault. The people who are perceived to be at fault seek to protect themselves in advance.

    Give me this juxtaposition of a free risk taking society combined with a blame culture ahead of the current entrepreneurial torpor that exists in France at the moment.

  17. ArkAngel on

    How do you compare the UK and the USA in this regard?

  18. Practical Psychologist on

    A few years ahead of us I guess. What is interesting is that the language of the world seems to be all about ideas, creativity, innovation – particularly at work – and yet we are building in more defence mechanisms in case things go wrong. I don’t think we are more risk averse at all. I think we are more personal responsibility averse. And the Americans lead the world here.

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