Manufacturers Contemplate the Blurred Lines Between Life, Work, and Play

Last week, PSFK hosted a conference in downtown Manhattan that explored a big, esoteric idea: the blurred lines between life, work, and play in our lives—and how they’re impacting business.

The New York City–based think tank, which publishes an annual report on retail trends, The Future of Retail, corralled a mix of professionals from media, fashion, retail, and technology for its Live, Work, Play Better event. Speakers delivered rapid-fire presentations on how they (and their companies) are capitalizing on changing consumer behaviors and realities.

Courtesy PSFK

PSFK founder and CEO Piers Fawkes 

A few useful takeaways for retailers:

  • Becky LaFranchi, communications and interior design manager for IKEA, held forth on the health benefits of hyper-organization in both the home and workplace—which is both a guiding principle in her work and a reason for existence for IKEA. “Clutter kills people. It will kill you,” she deadpanned. “When everything is in order, we become satisfied.”
  • “As a retailer, you have three seconds to capture a customer’s imagination,” said Liam Casey, founder and CEO of PCH, a manufacturing and distribution solutions company. “That’s an amazing moment—an amazing thing for a retailer to have.” Casey also urged companies to strive for real innovation, not copycat schemes. “Free shipping is not innovation,” he noted. “It’s desperation.” 
  • Sascha Lewis, founder of CEO of media company Flavorpill talked about “The ROI of Presence,” noting the importance of finding time in your schedule for centering activities such as meditation and yoga. A golden idea: “Have a lunch-break dance party with your staff.”
Courtesy PSFK
 
During breaks in the day’s schedule, artist Jon Burgerman did two-minute portraits with attendees, who drew him from across the table
  • Noreen Chadha, commercial director for forward-thinking hotel brand citizenM, talked about changing the traditional hotel model—which has entrenched customs and practices, much like the jewelry store model. For example, the idea of employees at a hotel working in different departments and knowing little about how other departments work (and therefore always passing clients to other people to answer questions) is outdated, she said. At citizenM, “we have one type of employee, and it’s a hotel ambassador,” Chadha said. “And they can help every guest with anything they need.”
  • Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and cofounder of Kind (the maker of those yummy nutty health bars), engaged in a candid Q&A during which he shared his formula for entrepreneurship. “There are two phases to launching an idea,” he said. “The skeptic phase, which is the very critical research phase where you question everything, including if your idea even makes sense.” During that phase, “you need to be very comfortable walking away.” Then comes the “evangelist phase,” he said, “where a switch is flipped and you don’t let anyone stop you. Not even yourself.”
  • Amanda Parkes, CEO of Manufacture NY, a Brooklyn-based manufacturing facility and research and development laboratory for innovative fashion and wearable technology, said the Apple Watch is a beautiful, classy thing—and that it would never grace her wrist. “It’s not my identity, so I wouldn’t wear it,” she said, calling for more diversity in wearable products, then adding, “the tech industry can have the wrist—I want the rest of the body.” Parkes, whose facility seeks to bring manufacturing back to New York while fostering local design talent, is currently developing a knit textile that doubles as a battery. And yes, you can wash it—that’s how it recharges itself! 

JCK Magazine Editor