I have been exploring Nashville for just under three months now, lending my own moments to the narrative of the city.
It is a beautiful place, impossible to capture on a single list: micro-breweries, music venues, parks, coffee, custom denim, exquisite BBQ and musicians on Broadway that could be easily mistaken for vagabonds.
The spaces I am drawn to are mostly open, splashed with remnants of 1950s Americana, industrial design and caffeine. They are throwbacks to images described in a Kerouac novel, carved out with their unique individual look and feel.
imogene willie is a converted petrol station doused with antique motorcycles and a weathered leather couch. The designs speak to rustic Americana, constructed and handmade in-house, each pair custom made to fit the individual human figure.
Barista Parlor is a warehouse space that has been gutted. The roll up doors still operate in the summer, the concrete floor has been sanded (the cracks still apparent) and the the walls covered with worn American flags and mounted deer heads. With long wooden planks acting as tables, Barista Parolor was not built for customers to sit en masse over a Sunday brunch. They also adhere to the conventions of Williamsburg coffee, more commonly known as known as the 6oz Stumptown flat white.
Michael Burcham”s Office
Michael Burcham“s office at the EC is covered in industrial design. While he is a figure that represents the “new” Nashville in the business world, his desk is customised and sourced from rail road iron and timber, a subtle salute to an industry that helped build the South.
When I decided to pack everything into a suitcase and head to Nashville for a few months, I took an educated risk. I thought it would be an experience that I would walk away from with some life lessons learned.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with the city or the lifestyle of building ideas. Within the first week, I felt like I had arrived.
The reality of life outside a large corporation is confronting on a few levels. There is never a guaranteed paycheck. You have moments of bringing in large sums of money and moments where you experiment, iterate and fail hard (and often). This requires a serious adjustment to your mental model and no choice but to grow thick skin very quickly.
When you commit to embracing a curve in your career, you also commit to the unwavering instinct that everything will fall into place because the common thread seems to be that innovation and outcomes are spurred when one’s back is against the wall.
When I return to Melbourne next week I’ll be heading back to family, friends, amazing coffee and the city I call home. Logic would have me settle there for a while. Fortunately I left logic at the gate when I boarded the flight back in July.
I am in a unique position where I have nothing but time on my hands, so committing to a bootstrapped life isn’t crazy. I am most tranquil when I am delivering a meaningful piece of work and drinking coffee. The good news is that this feeling is not tied to any location. It just requires the attack pack, Macbook Air and Lucchese boots.
Committing to the curve is a scary prospect, but it yields a payoff that I’m not sure can be found in Melbourne right now.
At Deloitte I was lucky to have mentors to impart wisdom and insight to guide me through the first few years of my career. I naturally looked upwardly to those with more experience and success. There was huge value in this tacit knowledge, but I quickly learned that I was seeking direction for a walk of life that might not exist yet.
I wrote back in 2011, ‘greater wisdom leads us to people who we can learn from and teach’. After keeping my eyes open I realised that my mentors are actually my friends and peers.
Identifying the person that you admire is easy. Finding the characteristic of someone willing to share is harder – someone who will create the space for you to find answers while asking the right questions.
Remember to look laterally for these people. The fluid knowledge of your peers can always be applied to your lateral experience. Don’t be limited by looking upwardly at the success of someone else as a static blueprint of experience to follow. The world is constantly advancing, their experience is frozen in a time and place while your life is happening now.
Edit: From @rexster: “We seek not the answers but to understand the questions” – Kwai Change Caine
Thanks to Sarah for reading the draft at The Little Mule.
This 18 minute documentary is an awesome introduction to interaction design and user experience. It explores the future of the interaction design field. What piqued my interest are the thoughts around what will happen in the future when the digital and physical worlds intersect, enabling the connection of colonies that are not simply human based.
Connecting (Full Film) from Bassett & Partners on Vimeo.
Jon Chambers is the Creative Director at Deloitte Digital, Seattle, WA.
He showed me his sketchbook at dinner last night. I asked him to tell me about this drawing.
“Really early on when I was in school I learned that if you draw with a ballpoint pen you don’t think about “Can I erase this?” You just draw. You don’t care, you just scribble stuff. I started that drawing just scribbling stuff and then it turned into that. I think that’s important, just getting outside your mind and “Oh my God, can I erase that?”…just draw it. Perfection, it’s overrated”