John Lewis - The Bear and Hare - 2013 Seasonal CGI Amazing coloured pencil drawings Tokyo City Symphony Luis Nieves - Baywood Red Light

27 September 2013

Leeds First Direct Arena

Hi Everyone,

One of the most recent buildings designed in Leeds is the Arena, which is situated at the top of clay pit lane. This building has caused a huge steer of opinion not only in the office here at SoVibrant HQ but also the local press. The building and the surrounding public spaces have been designed to take advantage of the fact that it is mainly used during the night/early evening. the design looks great when the facade is lit and this clearly expresses it's function of being an entertainment hub of Leeds. The light splashes out and creates great vistas between it's neighbouring buildings. This is not only spectacular to see but also draws you to the main entrance which faces away from the centre of Leeds.

This ambiance dramatically changes during the day and so does my opinion on the building, in fact I would go far as saying that everything that I like about the building is lost. The architecture losses all its excitement and expression of entertainment during the day. It is also suddenly seen in context, where it is situated in the city centre, which the design completely ignores in both form and function.

Designing buildings which provide such specific functions always leaves designers with issues in regards to the wider context of the city. These buildings only really have a limited range of floor plan designs and thus always only fit on a site in a particular way. So the question is would you ignore the context and create a great object or strive for a contextual master piece.

I would love to hear your opinions on the new arena.

Amric Manku
Strategy & Transformation

19 September 2013

Fantasy Football

Hello readers,

Today I bring an entry with a different swing to what you might be used to, but as a recent acquisition of the SoVibrant strategy team I want to talk about something that has helped me to settle in, blend in with the team, and embed nicely into the social set up here!

I know a lot of business have the same at this time of year and it may cause as many a Monday morning talking point as it does here, we are of course talking about Fantasy Football. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) roughly 33 million wannabe general managers worldwide will be studying the stats and trends involving goalkeepers, sturdy defenders, midfield maestros, and super strikers as they prepare for their fantasy football league pick.

It is always nice to find a common ground topic when starting a new job which does not revolve around your work and everyday tasks, and with a growing team here, the SoVibrant Fantasy Football League Championship is a good ice breaker to get everyone involved and talking, whilst also introducing (a small but healthy amount....) of office competition. Let’s face it, if you have ever played before, we all think we are a Jose Mourinho or Brian Clough, but the tables never lie and you all soon find out the who’s who when it comes to the seasons competition.

For the little time and effort this takes to create teams and leagues, there are, according to Human Resources website ‘HR Benefits Alert’ many benefits to companies when allowing workers to participate in the activity, these benefits include:

  • Improved employee morale. The fact is people love the game, and when workers feel their employers trust them to do the right thing (i.e. not letting work performance or productivity become affected), they tend to not let it do so.

  • Increased interdepartmental communication. Fantasy football gives employees a reason to talk to other staff they may not ordinarily talk to. For example, a sales rep may be able to talk to the CEO because their teams are fighting it out for top spot, or an accountant may approach the Head of Marketing with a selection tip. It’s a catalyst for a level of communication some employees wouldn't ordinarily have with each other.

  •  Better customer relations. It’s not out of the ordinary to see salespeople contact individuals with whom they've had a long and prosperous business relationship, but to then invite them into the fantasy league?! It speaks volumes! A great way to keep staff, customers and suppliers in mind of each other through a non-work related, fun avenue. Most die-hard fantasy football players are in multiple leagues anyway and most leagues are always looking for new entrants as we all try to stamp our authority and be labelled the “Football oracle” for the summer while the season is out.

15 percent of organisations actually prohibit employees from participating in fantasy sports leagues, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) due to a supposed fall in productivity when involving Fantasy Football in the workplace. But the same report issued the top three areas HR professionals perceived are positively affected by office Fantasy Leagues are relationship building, team building, and employee loyalty, SHRM said.

The report continues to say employers that encourage participation in fantasy football leagues could actually see benefits:

“An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites could backfire in the form of reduced morale and loyalty. The result could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 to 20 minutes of team management each day”, (especially when it’s done over a lunch break here at SoVibrant), “Companies that not only allow workers to indulge in fantasy football, but actually encourage it by organising a company league are likely to see significant benefits in morale. In the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.”

In an age now where an ever increasing amount of employees take their work home and even on vacation with them as some studies suggest, clever managers are letting certain fun aspects into the workplace as to be able to keep the balance right with their staff, the end argument boils down to the work-life balance, which in turn is a much debated topic throughout the business world.

What I can confirm is there seems to be no clear downside to the fantasy football league here at SoVibrant, it has helped to knit the new starters together faster and has created a real buzz around the office with each showing our competitive streak and will to win, a will to win and desire to be the best which transfers not only into our fantasy football picks, but in our work ethos and attitude towards any project or task we begin.

And on a final note, I will be happy to collect my trophy at the end of the season......Thanks!

Mark Kitching
Strategy Assistant

(Images courtesy of fantasy.premierleague.com)

8 September 2013

Mother and daughter create art together....

Okay, so this has been all over the Internet recently, but I really like the images and want them on our blog, so here we go: Professional illustrator Mica Angela Hendricks was taken by surprise when she shared her new sketch book with her 4-year-old daughter. Rather than create pictures of her own, the daughter added bodies on the portrait pictures Mica was working on. Mica was delighted with the stylistic juxtaposition and coloured up the extra parts with extraordinary results:

"Not surprisingly, I LOVED what she drew. I had drawn a woman’s face, and she had turned her into a dinosaur-woman. It was beautiful, it was carefree, and for as much as I don’t like to share, I LOVED what she had created. Flipping through my sketchbook, I found another doodle of a face I had not yet finished. She drew a body on it, too, and I was enthralled. It was such a beautiful combination of my style and hers. And she LOVED being a part of it. She never hesitated in her intent. She wasn’t tentative. She was insistent and confident that she would of course improve any illustration I might have done. …And the thing is, she DID."

Design at SoVibrant 


4 September 2013

The Book Country

New landmark buildings outside London have been a bit thin on the ground in recent years, so to hear about the new 10 storey Library of Birmingham opening its doors yesterday is all good news for the construction industry. It may have been publically funded at a cost of £188.8m, but this building could be the start of several new landmark developments popping up around Birmingham. 

In Leeds we've seen the opening of Trinity Shopping Centre and Leeds Arena this summer, so let hope this is all a good sign that the construction industry is well clear of recession.

Birmingham’s colourful new BREEAM excellent library, designed by Mecanoo with Buro Happold, is 20% larger than its predecessor and will display 400,000 of the institution’s 1 million text collection to the public. The outside of the building has gained a lot of attention over the past few months as construction has drawn to an end. With its intricate interlocking metal circles, reminiscent of a Spirograph pattern and references the ‘interlocking stories of industrial heritage, jewellery, people and knowledge’ in the local area. 

A design similar to one we have used recently in a linear format, which can also graphically reference a DNA strand. Very fitting for a large scale library full of knowledge and research about all known living organisms and the origins of life.

Architecture - Construction - Interior Design 
Images courtesy of Google Images