Karen Is My Life Coach (By Anna Gerber)

karen

This is Anna Gerber’s third and final guest blog for us. She’s been writing about delightful new storytelling projects that have caught her eye. Anna is a Special Projects Creative Director who knows a thing or two about making stories, be they digital, on paper or brickwork as co-Founder of Visual Editions and Creative Director of just launched Editions At Play.

Here’s the thing. You’re really never sure if Karen is on your side or not. Or if she’s nice. Or if you even like her. Her eyes sparkle, her smile is warm, in one trailer you even see her sitting in front of a polite mantle piece. But she can also seem a little cult-leader-like: her stare can feel intrusive, her polite mantle piece probably too polite and her questions a bit much. Her creators capture this unease with their strapline: “She’s friendly. Too friendly.”

So what or who is Karen? Karen is My Life Coach is an app. It’s an app dreamed up by Blast Theory (based in Brighton, England). Karen is a fictionalised character, she is a made up life coach that asks you (the client? patient? user?) an awful lot of questions in a series of eerily realistic life coach session environments. The app is smart. Karen is smart as she amasses data about you and your behaviour in order to know how to respond. She’s like an interactive version of a cross between the Spike Jonze film Her and the UK Channel Four TV series Humans.

The thing is Karen is not a very helpful app. She is not a tool. Karen is unlikely to support you and guide you in a way that you feel you might want or need. But here’s what Karen will do: she will get you to question how freely you are prepared to be open and honest and intimate with your phone. She might even make you think twice about big data and how companies and governments collect information about you unknowingly all the time.

Powered by the rather thrilling intersection of theatre, art and technology Karen is smart, here is an app that makes a gentle and poignant cultural interrogation and it’s even funny if you want it to be. In an unnerving way. One things for sure: if you’re like me, it might make you feel wary of my phone. At least for a couple days. And that’s probably a good thing.

25 Years of Wert&Co.

It’s been twenty-five years and Wert&Co. has held true to our original mission (and our early ads in the beloved, now folded, ID magazine), working “where converging disciplines find their place“ and “where design is integral to business success.” 

In 1995, Google was still three years away from being founded, social media meant classmates.com (although the term had not been coined), and design as a discipline was fairly rooted in its’ classical forms. Wert&Co.’s office had a room for portfolios, a hallway’s worth of paper resumes and interview notes on 4×6 notecards held together by rubber bands and paper clips.

Design’s journey to the C-suite had begun and, although we didn’t know it at the time, the pivotal moments and boom and bust cycles of that era, led to the wider understanding that design leadership should play a central role in business strategy — not just providing useful products and services, but creating experiences that people love. 

Today, the story of the true value and impact of Design and Innovation in business is still being written. 

Our clients and candidates are thinking about the ways people address smart roads and smart cars, the future of consumer experiences within hospitality and travel, the changing landscape of luxury and retail in a new consumer era, governments and elections, modernizing education, the future of media, structural equality in society, privacy and security, and transforming health care for the aged. They are doing this while experimenting with distributed global workforces, automation, and new communication systems at scale.

All in all, it has been quite a journey, and we’re looking forward to the future as Design continues to play an essential role with tangible impact on people’s lives, shaping countries and cultures, with a common purpose to deliver a better world, not only for today but for future generations.

 

High Resolution Interview

Judy was delighted to be featured on the High Resolution video podcast series. Focused on Design Leadership, High Resolution is the passionate endeavor of Bobby Ghoshal and Jared Erondu, showcasing some highly inspired dialogues.

Our conversation ranged from Wert&Co.’s history recruiting creative leadership over the last two decades to some of our behind the scenes insights and tools, and even our favorite children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon and how it can serve as a metaphor for mapping one’s own professional (and personal) journey.

 

SF MOMA

On our recent business trip to the left coast (after a pit stop for the fascinating Renaissance Weekend in Utah), we were finally able to visit the renovated SF MOMA. And while we don’t exit thru the gift shop, well, actually we did. And the bookstore left us with plenty of summer reading inspiration — from A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design (the classic had a new edition out last year — over 1,000 visual examples of humour, irony and playfulness in graphic design and branding over the last few decades) to the Little Book of Hygge (which just might make us look forward to the winter or at least a visit to Copenhagen!).

 

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Really really good. You’ve got talent! https://t.co/HSeUWHckKL

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