THE FOUR FOUR EIGHT EXPERIMENT
The 4.4.8 Experiment was a project run during the summer of 2013.
It was designed to test two things; the designs themselves and secondly, and just as importantly, what would happen when control of something which is so close to one's heart is handed over completely.
Exactly one year after beginning development on the first four models of the Core Collection, the final prototypes were handed over to four women; Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian, Camilla Johnson-Hill of The Production Club, Illustrator Extraordinaire Jo Ratcliffe and one young woman, who for her own mysterious reasons, had to remain anonymous. They were asked to test, trial and challenge their handbags for a period of seven days. At the end of this week, they were to report on their experiences and to decide, with total freedom, who the bag should be entrusted to next. This second person would do the same and so, for a period of eight weeks, so each handbag would make it's way through a chain of people. Where they would travel (and through who's hands they would pass) was at the whim of the participants and with the will of the gods.
"We’re yet to see any brand, large or small, attempt market research or marketing as bold, and ironically simple as The 4.4.8. Experiment ... Simply Brilliant." (Lowe + Partners Creative Counsel)
Watching this project unfurl was fascinating, not least because it was completely unscripted.
-They found themselves travelling to the beaches of Latin America and on treks in the Scottish highlands, from a photoshoot in Zurich to meetings in NYC.
-They rolled through the offices of Net-a-Porter and Dover Street and found their way to the desks of Harpers Bazaar, Gentlewoman, and Wonderland Magazines.
-They were admired on planes and stopped in the street. They even jumped the gender divide once, enjoying a week with Mr J Ashton of DSM, something which was unexpected but joyfully embraced.
A few responses from the reports themselves, still available here in the original format.
"Bags are my thing. I love fashion, I love clothes, but I love bags most of all. I was happy to try this bag out for a week, but to be honest it never occurred to me I would fall in love with it. But that’s what happened.The only person I could face giving it up for was my sister Alice, who was the very first person to admire it." (Jess Cartner-Morley, The Guardian)
"Beautifully designed and obviously high quality. I love the clasp - total genius - style and function." (Alice Cartner-Morley, Freud Communication)
"Contrary to what you might have heard, being a fully-fledged handbag enthusiast needn’t mean shopping for accessories on a daily basis. Rather, it means investing in one and really really appreciating it. The flat iron is, I feel, a worthy recipient of such admiration. The size is brilliant – big enough to carry everything I need but not ridiculously so. The look and feel of the leather is also perfect: I’m a big fan of a minimalist aesthetic and tend to quake in the presence of anything polished or overtly branded." (Karen Dacre, The ES)
Many thanks to all who made this project, which was truly experimental, such a success.