Design agency gets them thinking and talking

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Falmouth-based design agency Gendall Design showed how it is taking a lead in its promotion of creative and targeted design for businesses when over 70 people attended its first Think Talk event at the National Maritime Museum yesterday evening.

(L-R) Tess Gendall, managing director of Gendall Design; Stephen Feber, creative director of the Heartlands Project;
(L-R)Think Talk speakers Tess Gendall, Stephen Feber, Carleen Kelemen, Jonathan Griffin, Paul Davies

The first in an occasional series of talks focusing on the impact of branding, marketing and design on the economic and social development of Cornwall, the event addressed the question of how to transform places – to live, study, work or visit – into destinations. 

The evening was introduced by Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Programme, and speakers included Stephen Feber, creative director of the visionary Heartlands Project, which has seen derelict mining land in Pool transformed into both a new hub for the local community and a World Heritage Site under the Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks programme. 

“Gendall’s Think Talk was a very timely event for us to be involved in,” said Feber. “Heartlands is all about looking to the future, and illustrates how Cornwall as a county can continue to develop in a sustainable way. Critical to the success of all such forward looking projects is the ability to establish and communicate a clear sense of identity. It is fantastic that these conversations are being had by some of the region’s leading thinkers and that the hugely important issue of a sense of place is being recognised and considered in an intelligent way.”

Jonathan Griffin, director of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, which was South West Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2008, also spoke at the event and was keen to communicate the importance of the issue to Cornwall’s tourism industry. “Destinations are more appealing than places,” he said. “Destinations contain a promise; places just exist. If a destination is clear about what its promise is and can deliver on it, people will be delighted and will want to visit, return and spread the word.

“Discovery Quay in Falmouth, where the National Maritime Museum Cornwall is based, was designed as a destination but I feel it has missed out on certain elements that differentiate it from just a place: things like the coherence of its offer, and effective marketing and branding that make it compelling to visitors. Gendall Design’s Think Talk has sparked a welcome debate on the challenge of making places into destinations – it is not an easy transformation to achieve.”

Gendall Design’s digital design director, Paul Davies, also discussed branding destinations online, and the importance of creating a compelling digital offering which engages visitors and communicates a strong sense of place. 

Tess Gendall, managing director, added: “It was fantastic to see so many people turn up to take part in the discussion and listen to what our very knowledgeable speakers had to say. Clearly businesses are interested in learning more about leveraging branding, marketing and design to strengthen Cornwall’s offering and it was great to bring so many people together to share ideas and ensure this issue gets the attention it deserves. We hope future Think Talk’s will be just as successful.”

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