How we work

The new website for Edenspiekermann is up. A lot of the projects are fairly mainstream and a lot of the copy sounds rather “corporate” to me. That is the result of having to agree on every sentence between nine partners and 100 colleagues. My personal take is represented by the text I wrote about the HOW.

We run our business by sharing responsibility among nine partners. Each of us run project teams. We do not take money from faceless networks and don’t have to be accountable to their controllers. We alone decide who we work for and how we organize ourselves. And we put our money where our mouths are: we are shareholders and interested in the long view.
Most design consultancies or branding agencies (pick your own name) offer pretty much the same type of work. It is how they go about their work that makes the difference. It is a question of attitude, personality, even morals.

The current crisis is also a crisis of values: are people accountable for what they do? Is success rewarded with fat premiums but failure paid for by society? Can we carry on asking for growth as the only way forward? Do we need new values?

Even designers are not only judged by the visible results of their work, but more and more so by how they achieved them. Originality, personality, accountability are new buzzwords. Attitude is more interesting than cleverness.

Brands are successful when they when they are authentic, when they show attitude. They show how they make products, how they treat their people, how they look at the future. Cheap stuff – the What – will still be made in China and elsewhere. Complex processes – the How – are designed here.


  1. Rajeev Gupta

    Attitude counts, however, humility is a rare commodity and still a good ingredient for the making of a succesful human being. I could not agree more with you about the HOW, however, I do take exception to the mention of China in a part derogatory manner. The intent of your statement is clear, but the sharpness of words borders on arrogance.

    I went over the new website and cannot help but appreciate and admire a lot of the work in there. But with attitude should come a sense of appropriateness and humility – areas where some work still needs to be put in – perhaps.

    For the records, I keep coming back to your work for it inspires me and challenges me. I am looking forward to hearing you speak at Mumbai in September.

  2. I don’t think saying that “Cheap stuff gets made in China” is derogatory. The fact is that products made in China have inundated the world markets, mainly because of their price. Quality products are also made in China – for Apple, amongst others – but the main reason they have things made there is price. There is nothing wrong with making things cheaply or making cheap things. It just happens to have been China’s position on the world’s markets for a long time, and very successfully so. If you go to a WalMart in the US, most products in the shop will have been made in China, and people go to WalMart because they’re cheap.

    I am eurocentric, of course, because this is where i grew up and where i live and work. Pretending to be politically correct about the so-called Third World is much more derogatory than honestly stating one’s position. And we are in competition across the world, for work, resources, finance. In Europe we neither have cheap labour nor enough natural resources. So we have to sell our abilities instead. One day China will undersell us there as well and I doubt that we’ll be able to ask for considerate treatment then.

  3. Rajeev Gupta


    Thanks for taking out the time to respond.

    Your point is well taken. I am not Chinese myself, though I do come from another so-called third world country – India. However, even in India, the “Chinese” tag has the same universal meaning and symbolism and we continue to face the threat of an economic intrusion – if not invasion – from our cheaper neighbour.

    But I am still not convinced that China, or for that matter, any place where things are made cheaper, does not produce people who know HOW things ought to be done.

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