Recently, the team here at Bulletproof were lucky enough to be invited for a behind the scenes tour of the Hirsch & Mann studio over in London’s East End.
If you haven’t heard it, Hirsch & Mann is a design and technology consultancy that explores the future by making physical technology and putting it into the world to gain impact. The team have worked with an incredible breadth of clients including Moma, Google, Cadbury and Beats by Dre on projects varying from beautiful interactive displays to wearable technology. It seems their work really knows no boundaries, bringing brands to life using technology in exciting ways never seen before.
Our host for the morning was agency Founder, Daniel Hirschmann, who met us on site at their premises on Vyner Street. Daniel confessed to us that he became an ‘accidental entrepeneur’ when he set up Hirsch & Mann back in 2010. He studied a degree Fine Arts and a masters in Interactive Telecommunications and so began his lifelong passion for tangible and physical computing.
As you can imagine their studio is an incredible Aladdin’s cave of technological treasures, so we didn’t waste any time exploring their work and getting our geek on with some of their most mind blowing inventions!
After our visit, we were intrigued to find out more and had plenty of questions to ask Daniel to get a real insight into him and the agency…
What inspired you to set up Hirsch and Mann?
“I didn’t have a clear plan, but I knew that I wanted to create work that brought almost magical real-world experiences to people. There were a few inspiring Art and Architecture companies in London, but not many other industries that were using technology as a medium for creativity at the core of their offer. So we’ve worked hard to carve out a niche as an experience design and production company that does just that!”
What has been your most challenging project?
“This is a difficult one to answer as there are so many reasons that a project might turn out to be challenging. What I can say instead, is that the projects that lead to the most challenges are those that don’t involve a clear direct engagement between us and all the stakeholders. The nature of what we do is innovative and often has not been created before, leading to more unknowns. So by having an immediate connection with the primary stakeholders in a project, we’re able to share a level of transparency that leads to the best outcomes. Without this access — the challenge begins!”
Below: A responsive, light up invitation to an event curated by Adidas.
How do you keep up with the latest creative tools and technologies?
“Reading, browsing, and keeping my ear to the ground. One of the best ways to do this is simply by listening to what my team is excited about. We also pay a lot of attention to the amazing work that is being created by our peers in the industry (even the not-so-amazing work – they are still great examples of ways to expand the potential of the tools and tech that are out there).”
Because what you do is so diverse, how do you educate potential clients / the world in what you do?”
“This is definitely another one of our biggest challenges, yet perhaps one of our biggest opportunities! We do regularly share what we’re working on, both socially and online. However there is nothing more impactful than being able to share the real things we’ve made with our potential clients, by showing them an actual physical and responsive object or installation. This helps to change the conversation. We also have an 8-year history of producing next level work, and this helps our clients trust us to deliver the big ideas they are looking to bring to life themselves.”
Below: A wearable technology collaboration with Intel designed to be worn by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
How much are clients involved in the creative process?
“This is client dependent. We take pride in being excellent collaborators, however there are times that a client would like us to take on the creative brief and simply deliver a series of design or experience options. We lean towards having a good collaboration or dare I say ‘partnership’ with our clients. I hear you asking, “what defines a good collaboration?” One of the key ingredients is to have at least one decision maker in the room during feedback sessions. That’s not always possible, but it’s definitely part of the recipe for a fantastic partnership!”
Which organisations outside your own do you love the work of?
“We are fans of Art + Com, UVA, Troika, Random International, Jason Bruges Studio, Sosolimited, Bompas & Parr, Cinimod Studio, and Umbrellium to name a few. They all bring creative ideas to life with technology in their own very innovative ways.”
Above: Light-up Beats headphones which were designed for Lil’ Wayne.
What would be your dream project?
“Wow – tough question! A dream project would be to work with one of the world’s biggest brands over a set period of, say, 3 years, and deliver mind-blowing retail experiences. These spaces would get treated as pop-ups that change seasonably and become immersive destinations. To do this with continuity and over time allows us to test, learn and iterate constantly with a longer term view. Time is an incredibly powerful opportunity – and quite often due to seasonality, decisions are often made for the short term. I believe that by being strategic and committed to a longer timeline, the potential to deliver a far more effective outcome would be much greater.”
Below: Bulletproofers Irene and Lizzie having fun with an experiential piece of installation art for a collaboration with Converse.
“You’re sent to a desert island and given 3 days to create something. What 4 tools do you bring?”
- A roll of the ultimate gaffer tape (love that stuff, it can be used for everything).
- Industrial container of dental floss – it’s super strong, and super light.
- Magnifying glass – to make fire, and of course to explore everything on the island as closely as possible – you know for entertainment and for inspiration.
- A can of retroreflective paint so I can use the fire I made with the magnifying glass to create some kind of spectacular analog light show with crazy reflections coming from the ocean, the painted surfaces and the flickering flame.
Below: Part of an ongoing experiment exploring new media painting using computer vision techniques that capture movement.
We felt really privileged to be given a real insight into a company that is so forward thinking and innovative. The potential of working with technology to express brand ideas is huge and we really hope to see more clients embrace this in the future.
A massive thank you to Daniel and his team for welcoming us into their world. If you’d like to find out more about any of the work featured above, head over to the Hirsch & Mann website.
Blog written by Holly.