I was in Mumbai recently. It's a mad, busy, noisy, sweaty, sprawling city. It's a city of contrasts. The 'haves' and 'have nots' aren't so much in different parts of the city as right next to each other on the street.
I loved it. The people were friendly, the food was amazing and it was a great learning experience.
People have asked what I think about India. The answer is I don't have a clue. I visited Mumbai so I couldn't possibly talk about India as a whole. It's like people visiting London for a few days and then saying they've visited Britain... that really gets my goat.
So I thought I'd share a few little things that caught my eye in Mumbai.
It's in an old jar.
This is not a new concept, but it's one that I always notice. Recycling things is good, but upcycling is cool. I don't want my drink in a branded glass that's been designed for the purpose. I want it in something that is equally suitable, that was designed for something else, that makes me appreciate the experience around me. If you're a brand, upcycle stuff that's relevant to your brand and I'll notice your branding, your product and the experience I'm having.
We all love fish and chips in a newspaper, so why can't we have Innocent smoothies in upcycled jars or something? Stella are producing awful advertising at the moment about their 'green' efforts - what about upcycling something, Stella?
Give people context, and give them a choice
This is a bottle of water:
That isn't a Sell By date, a Display Until date, a Best Before date or a Use By date. It's a Produced On date. It's that simple really. Why give them lots of confusing pieces of advice (which we all ignore when we want to) when you can give them the context of the product?
I know a sealed bottle of water will last me a long time if it's looked after and was only produced a few months ago. Beer manufacturers are doing this and calling it a Freshness Date.
There are two keys to the success of this shift: 1) Education and; 2) Confidence.
People need to be educated about how to best look after the product they've bought. If they look after it well, they then need to know when to make their own mind up about when to discard the product. That's part two - giving them the confidence to make that decision.
Space can overlap and be successful
They like a game of cricket those Mumbaikars...
In England, a patch of land where someone is playing cricket is a very precious space. You may get the odd couple of kids on the outfield with a small bat and ball, but when the game is in progress the accepted rule is to keep off the oval. All parts of the oval. This doesn't apply in Mumbai.
That's something I sketched out just after I'd walked through the Oval Maidan.
It's trying to explain the utter carnage that was apparently happening all around... but in fact it's showing a very intricate set of rules about playing cricket in a busy space.
On the left is a game of amateur cricket in England. The playing area is a hallowed turf but there may be the odd little infringement on the outfield by a couple of kids or a small energetic dog. This is as far as it goes though, and any infringements on the field further in are strictly prohibited and frowned upon.
On the right is a rough sketch of what was going on in Oval Maidan. (It may not be 100% accurate - I drew it in temperatures in excess of 5 trillion degrees, after a few Kingfisher...) What it's meant to show is that it's possible to play lots of games of cricket at the same time. It's fine if fielders overlap from lots of different games, so long as the pitch at the centre of the field is unobstructed. When space is at a premium, really question whether you can bend the boundaries... excuse the pun.
One downside is you have to make sure you don't get hit by loads of balls, and not just the one in your game...
Food in beta
When nationwide branded restaurants change their menu, you sometimes get an email telling you. When an independent local restaurant does it, the chances are you won't notice until you go there again.
And when you get there, maybe you won't notice it unless they flag it up well.
I really like this - the latest version of the menu. It's not for the benefit of a printer or a client - it's for the benefit of the customer. It's letting you know the menu is constantly being reviewed and improved.
Food in beta. That's my kind of restaurant. The next step is an interactive menu that gives people the opportunity to comment on each individual dish.
Unusual media space
I really noticed this cutlery when it was placed in front of me.
I noticed it because it's different. This cutlery succeeded where many an ad campaign falters - it got my attention. It did it simply by experimenting with the norms: shape and scale.
It also made me think about cutlery in general. Ubiquitous, but one thing we truly engage with several times a day. If I were a manufacturer of disposable cutlery, I'd think about that and I'd think about using it as a media space for relevant brands... chewing gum anyone? Toothpaste? Coffee?