Inside Tether: Behind the Scenes Studio Tour
So I was at Nike, Lego, and Starbucks for 20 years and then I talked a little bit about Tether. And Tether, when I left Starbucks, I wanted to start a place as I mentioned earlier, where it was like this creative playground. Where you dream it up and you can make it. So you come up with ideas and you have to do all that work of strategy, positioning, competitor analysis, all that stuff. I didn't wanna be a consultant, so for me a consultant is kind of like a dirty word. Don't ever call me a consultant because consultants, bless their hearts, they're great, but they recommend. They give you a white paper and then you're like, what do I, oh, I gotta go make this now or I gotta go do this, so I wanna be able to do the holistic experience. I wanted to bring that to life, bring that strategy, that positioning, to life through naming, and branding, and product design, and interactive experiences, and retail spaces, and videos, all the different places. So when I left Starbucks I thought, oka...
y, so I can do anything I want. I can fail however I want or succeed however I want. So I thought, you know what? I've always wanted a gallery, an art gallery. Why can't I do that? And then I also always wanted a store, a retail store, so I could make things and sell 'em, and then as well as an agency. Well, why don't I just do all three? Foolishly or not I went ahead and did that, I started Tether. Tether again, that comes from that, oh I'll talk about that in a minute. So I found a space in Seattle, in Pioneer Square in the Art Gallery District, and it was a perfect place to have art on the walls, products on the floor, and then there was a balcony, or a mezzanine, where all the designers sat up there. We also had events there, invited the public, big open windows where you could see in and see what's going on. Love the space. We're actually there for three years until we ran out of room and then move to another space. When I first started, when I left Starbucks, coming up with a name for your little company, who's named a company here before? Yes, you name your, whether it's a one-person shop or multiple persons, cough drop, get that woman a cough drop, are you alright?
(laughs) Alright. It was a lot of pressure to name this company. 'Cause I want it to be enduring. I didn't wanna call it Hainsworth and Co. or Stanley's Shack or anything because I want it to endure pass me, I want it to be something that would be around for a long time. So there's a lot of pressure, and so, this is what a little trick that I used to do. I've done a lot of naming over the years, started at Nike and at Nike I realize that you can come up with anything as long as, you can create anything as long as you have that problem in your mind to solve. If you're looking at the world through a problem solving lens, let's say you need to do naming, or you need inspiration for a photography shoot, or whatever it is, if you're looking at the world through that lens, anything can be inspiration. You don't have to go to Paris for that, you can go for a walk around the block, you can go for a run, and you will find inspiration for that. So I was on the naming front. I remembered when I have, I wanna have a naming problem in my head, I'm driving down the freeway, I see signs, I see words that trigger things. I see images that trigger things. One of the things I like to do was flip through my albums. I use to flip through my albums and look for songs, song titles in there, and that would just trigger things. I'd never take the song, something directly usually, it's just trigger something. Then they invented those compact disc, now digital, so I flip to my iTunes library or my digital library. When I started Tether, I was doing that. I was just like, ah what name? So I was looking through my library and there's a singer from Seattle, one of my favorite singers, his name is Damian Jurado. I followed him for a long time. I've seen him when I lived in Connecticut, lived in Denmark. I've seen him in concert and all these different places. When I moved here, I remembered he's from Seattle and so I was looking through my song library and I saw a song that Damian had. I'll play this little clip, a little video clip. I want to thank everybody for coming out tonight. We're very excited to have Damian here tonight. I'm especially excited because the name of this company is Tether. Damian's album, Where Shall You Take Me, just so happens to have a song on there called Tether. (laughs) And I've been a big fan of Damian for a long time and when I took this space, I thought, you know, it will be so cool if someday Damian Jurado could come and play right here in this spot, and even putting extra plugs here, in case we needed to put in more amps and everything. So this is kind of a milestone for me. It's very excited to have Damian come and play at Tether. Thanks for coming, Damian.
Thank you. ♪ Come oh come away Heather ♪ ♪ Who is the boy that you keep by your arm ♪ ♪ Drags a cat around by a tether ♪ ♪ I've never seen his kind come around ♪
That was really great. Really special moment for me to have Damian sing Tether at Tether. He was going on a concert tour throughout Europe. We have a letterpress in the gallery space. That was one of the first things that I really wanted there. That really speaks to creativity and design and craftsmanship. We made this mini posters that we put in with the albums that is sold. Here's a picture of what the gallery looked like. You walked in, and it was pretty much this. People walk in, they go, what is this place? I love that question, 'cause it opened up conversation. 'Cause they saw everything from furniture and bikes and books and letterpress and all these things that you could buy, they saw artwork on the wall. We had participated in the city's First Thursday, art walk, and then you saw a bunch of people working, making stuff. That's what I wanted Tether to be, and that's how Tether started. We also had besides First Thursday, art walk, we had events there, and we invited the community. Here's a little video on the letterpress. The importance of getting your hands in the work.
Letterpress is important in that it gets you off the computer that makes you think in a physical space as opposed to kind of a theoretical digital space. You just think differently about what you're doing. And you bring that different thinking back into your digital world as well.
And just the history that's involved in it too. Something is pretty amazing. You can get amazing amount of texture and effects with the imperfections that end up happening within each of your prints that makes each piece unique.
You can print one bowl of beautiful color at a time. That's it.
I love how you can take something old and make something completely new out of it. Or apply new techniques to something that's old.
There are definitely a lot of faster, cheaper, more uniform ways to print, but it doesn't make it better. They just don't have heart.
So the letterpress is a, like the soul. You have the computer which is so amazing and all the amazing things that you can do. And then this is, I already talk about this in the last segment a little bit of the, this is all that past come in to the present. We're surrounded by artwork, we're surrounded by objects that we used to sell in the gallery. We have this big open space to create. We also have a studio in Portland. We have clients down there and we have some amazing designers down there, and project managers down in Portland. Hey, welcome to Tether. This is a Tether studio. Everything that you see here reflects what we do. We make stuff. We come up with ideas, we come up with the strategy, the positioning, the branding, the names, the interactive experience, the retail experience. We do all that to create those emotional connections between consumers and brands. Here we've collected an amazing group of people and what we're gonna show you are some of the exciting behind-the-scenes, ways that we come up with the brands that we create. So let's go take a look. At Tether, everything reflects what we do. We're storytellers. We create stories. The artwork on the wall, this says Tether, T-E-T-H-E-R and commissioned this from an amazing artist in San Francisco. Look at the space, it's welcoming, right? And that's what I want. When you walk into the space, it welcomes you. There's comfortable seating, there's chairs and tables for impromptu meetings or to eat lunch. We have books and we have interesting novelty things just to pick up and look and it's all part of the storytelling ethos that we have here at Tether. If you come in to here, this is the open environment that we have. I wanted to have an environment where we didn't have a receptionist when you first walk in, where you didn't have that wall of don't go past here. So this is our receptionist right here, Marie, is our receptionist, and when you come in, you kind of discover her. So you come in first, and it looks like a cafe. And you go, hey this looks like a cool place, and you look to the left and you see the receptionist here. We wanted to make sure that we didn't have the cube wall separating each other, 'cause we have cross-discipline approach here. We have the interactive team sitting by the writers, that are sitting by the industrial design team and graphic design team. We wanted that open communication and that open flow. As you see, we got these tables where everyone's sharing space. We have these work tables in between, and then we have the conference rooms that are over there and all the conference rooms and the workspaces are separate from the collaboration space here. Over here, on these work tables, the designers are able to take some of their projects. This is Tatcha, one of the brands that we've created. The Tatcha team would be up here working away, re-designing the packaging and the forms and they'd be pulling from the graphic designers and the industrial designers and the writer would be here. All collaborating together. I really love this environment. Our designers have grown to love it as well. First, when we moved in, it's like, okay, what about the noise? One of the things that we've done is we have music playing all the time. We have four, five people that are the DJ, and they curate the music for the day. The music acts as a kind of a white noise. You hear the music, but it's enough to kind of cover up conversations and phone calls and things like that. The natural talk that happens between the creative teams that are working on things, that also adds to the white noise. It's kind of this low energy hum that's really great, that they're really loving. Love all these big windows that we have and the windows let, sometimes our cloudy Seattle environment here, still lets a lot of light in. It's a very energizing place and I love standing in my office and just looking out at the floor, just like this, this creative energy that's happening and you can hear it, you can feel it, and then as you walk past, just as you're walking past someone and you look at their screen, even if you're not working on that project, you go, oh yeah, hey that's cool. They're working on that project or that project. It's a good way of awareness of what each other is doing in the studio as well. Let's go on one of the conference rooms and see what's cooking on one of the projects. Here we are, we're getting ready to go in one of our conference rooms. When I design the space, there happen to be seven conference rooms, so I thought, hmm, seven, seven deadly sins. And so we're gonna go into greed, come on. Here we are in greed and this is the Tatcha team. This is Tatcha project team and this is Emma, Suzanna and Meg. When I started Tether, I thought, you know what, I've been launching brands and creating brands for years for Nike, Lego and Starbucks, and so I thought, why can't we launch our own brands? The first brand that we launch was Tatcha, and this was done with, in partnership with a woman that I worked with at Starbucks. Her name is Vicky Tsai, and she's amazing woman, she has a background in the beauty industry. The whole concept was building a brand around Japanese beauty secrets that we could bring to the Western world. We launched this about five years ago, and it's been doing very well. It's for sale online, at Barneys. It's been a lot of fun to create, so we named it, we designed it, did the logo, did all the packaging, the packaging forms, and then the packaging itself. It really represents that inter discipline approach where we have the industrial designers involved, designing the forms, we have the graphic designers doing the logo, we have the writers doing the name. We do all the websites, we have our interactive designers designing the website and then the eCommerce experience. We do all the advertising around whether they're digital banner ads or brochures or displays that we do at Barneys. Emma, I know that we've created all this product. I hear that we have a new challenge. Why don't you talk a little bit about what we have with our current product and kind of some of the design language and how we're trying to move that.
As you know, the current product reflects really integrated Japanese sort of, revealing experience where you can open up the package, it's very polished. For the consumer, you open it up and it has all these different layers off experience. What we are doing today is very different. We're using a stock form and the experience is supposed to feel more off the shelf. I don't know if I would say less polished, it'll still be elevated but needs to seem more immediate, like this just in, this is small batch, we have a limited quantity and we wanna get it right to you immediately.
Okay, so, we have as you know, at Tatcha, we have this scientist, that are involved in all the formulation that work with Vicky. This is really bringing to the floor that science or that lab experience, and bringing that more immediately, right?
It is, it's supposed to feel very apothecary, but it still needs to feel like handcrafted, but not do-it-yourself.
But still retains some of those, 'cause it's been in the market for three or four, five years now so there are a lot of fans in there and we don't wanna throw them off by throwing everything away. What are some of the elements that you're trying to keep?
Some of the elements we're keeping are the logo type, we're treating it differently. Previously, we've done it in foil that seems like a very polished execution. Now we're treating in like a dark gray. We are retaining the virgin seal, which is on most of the product. We're going to keep that and integrate it with a much simpler label and simple execution. But we're going to explore using different kind of washi papers and textures that have a little bit more tooth, versus something that we have now which is very smooth.
Well, take us through just a little bit with Meg and Suzanna here, what's the process that your team went through and exploration.
Well, we looked at the existing product and the core line, is what we call it, and we've looked at some of the other additional product in the portfolio and then we kind of boiled it down to see what the basic elements are that would resonate, but that would still represent the brand, but in a much simpler, off the shelf way. What we came to was, again, the logo, the virgin seal, some of the type of graphic sensibilities and then using existing off the shelf Japanese packaging that again would reflect this revealing nature of Japanese packaging but in a simpler, less complicated way.
That's great. I really look forward to seeing where we take this. Thanks for your time.
Alright. At Tether, we love being cross-discipline. And I know you hear that a lot, cross-discipline, but at Tether, we really mean it. When we hire someone on the interactive team or on the industrial design team, we wanna make sure that they have a broad array of skills and that they have their home base, but they also work on other things, on other disciplines. This is a great example, this project here, Seattle Design Festival. They had this cool project where they gave agencies a blank eames rocker and they said, make it cool, do something with it. We've seen what they've done in the past, most people just kinda painted it and designed it. We thought, let's do something that really uses this cross-discipline skills. We got a group together, we had industrial designers, graphic designers, the video team, writers, we had the full array of our disciplines together and we just sat in a room and said, what could we do with this. After a lot of laughing and throwing up ideas on the wall, this is what we came up with. Here, I'll show you. Hey, David, how you doing?
This is David Drori, one of our senior editors here at Tether, and he's working on the video, how we kind of layered the story together. At the event, at the auction, most people just had their chairs up there, we had an experience around it, and we showed this video as well as our chair. David, why don't we just kind of see where you are right now with this?
Yeah sure. (bald man speaking in foreign language)
Let's just go to the ending for one second, 'cause we wanted to make sure, when we did this, we wanted to make sure that there was a chair that you would actually wanna buy, but we also wanted you to think about the notion of a chair and why does it have to have four legs or a rocker, you know what, who invented a rocker in the first place. So what we wanted to do is really think about the object itself within this kind of esoteric experience. We kind of end up with, let's see that ending really quick. Yeah, so I love the way that we took, remember when we were in the room and we just had those ideas and we just threw 'em up in the wall and we had this idea, it's like, what if we replace the rocker, because it's unstable, you can't sit in a chair that's unstable, you're moving all over. What if we cast it concrete as the base for this chair so it's not gonna move. So that's what we did. We had our team cast concrete. It turned out really great. Nice job with this.
Yeah, thank you.
Alright, so next, we're gonna go up and check out our industrial designers, our 3D team and see what's going on with 3D printer. Everything we do at Tether is really fun, but this is really fun. A 3D printer, everybody knows about 3D printers. When 3D printers kind of came out, a little while after that we bought one, and it was more in the early days. What's so cool about 3D printers, you can do all these stuff. We printed this out on our 3D printer. I mean, look at that, a crescent wrench that works. With that, if we can dream it, we can make it. Not only do a sketch, do a CAD run but then we can print it out. And we can print it out and show it to the client and say this is what it's gonna feel like. If it's a bottle, we can fill it with liquid and they can see it and they can feel it. We're gonna go take a look at our 3D printer. So come over here. This is Dave Schlesinger, and he's one of our senior industrial designers, and he's in here working on a project. Hey, Dave.
Hey, how's it going, Stanley?
Good, good. So Dave right now has a CAD drawing up that he's finessing and then he'll just press the print button and then it goes and it prints on our 3D printer. He's got some top secret something going on right here. It's so fun, because you can see it build, you can build it from a little millimeter and it just builds up to whatever it's going to be. Hey, Dave, come on out here for a second.
Let's take him, let's take you through a project here. As you can see, this is kind of Gatorade world here. Gatorade's one of our clients and has been for several years and we love Gatorade. With Gatorade, when we started working with them on the form side, and the 3D form side, this was the bottle that they had. You can see it's not really that athletic looking. It's got this crinkly label, and the form is just big. We call it the Humpty Dumpty bottle affectionately. We wanted something that really reflected the athleticism of Gatorade, athletes use it. We wanted something that had the broad shoulders, the narrow waist, Dave and his team started exploring that, so why don't you tell us about that evolution?
Yeah, one of the big things we came up with was this bold icon, and we sort of explored the idea of how we could use this as not only a graphic element but a three dimensional element that we apply to the packaging. This just kind of takes you through an evolution of how that looks on package. There kind of a couple different explorations of how that might live on the bottle, make it a little bit more unique from a geometry perspective and this is kind of where we ended up at the end. So this just takes you through some of the evolution of the 3D printer and how it helped us build up this kind of iconic design. Something that might have taken us a long time in the past, we're able to do it really quickly by using our CAD in-house and then coming here and using our 3D printer to evaluate the shape and the form.
Yeah, remember when we took this to the client? We took these, we had other versions that were clear and they could hold them and they could hold them and they could evaluate them and it was so helpful and we ended up with this. I mean, look at this, talk about athleticism. This has that narrow waist, that broad shoulders. It's grippy, you have sweaty hands, this is a recover drink after you work out. We were so excited when we're able to finally get this approved. The whole world of Gatorade that we've created from the equipment that you see on the sidelines, to the bottles and the forms, has been a really great experience. Hey, thanks Dave.
We're gonna go down in the basement now, and we're gonna check out our letterpress. Hey, we're down here in the Tether basement. This is actually part of the Seattle underground which is pretty cool, this is an old 1800s building. At Tether, as I mentioned, we have this cross-discipline approach and we do things both for our clients but also for ourselves. This is a great example. We have a letterpress. It's an old Vandercook letterpress and we got this from a print shop up in Vancouver, they made Chinese menus with it. This is one the first things that I bought when I started Tether, 'cause I really love the craftsmanship of letterpress. We both do projects for clients but also the employees can use this for personal projects. There's one going on right now, let's go take a look. Hey, this is Joseph and Jeff. Joseph and Jeff are designers here and they're also letterpress, master letterpress guys. They're working on our project right now. What are you printing?
Yes so this is a poster that Jeff had designed for a talk that Stanley's going to be giving. Featuring all of the different brands and elements in his life that he's touched.
And obviously it's got the signature silhouette of Stanley.
Okay, yeah. I see the resemblance yeah. So that's cool.
This is just the first pass. So the second pass will add in the type on top of this. As you can see here in the finished piece. And we're using, photo polymer plates. So essentially, this just, we design this on the computer and then with a little bit of hand on typed in there and then send these off to get produced. And it's pretty simple you get your plates back and put them on to the bed of the press. Just got sticky back right here. Peel this off. And this allows you to kinda peel this out and reuse this over and over again.
I love that. Initially this type was designed on the computer and the poster, and then you take it from the computer into this very analog world with the letterpress. And it's really, you're making me look good and I appreciate that. So thanks guys, we'll let you keep going.
All right. See you. Alright now we're gonna go up on the roof. We're gonna see some bees up there. Let's go. Hi everyone. We're on the roof of Tether. You can see out here, we're on the edge of the sound. And we're up on the roof because we have this program called the Tether Grand Project. And if a designer comes up with a cool idea, we'll fund it. So one of our designers Daniel Petrzelka, came up with this idea to build honey hives on the roof and so we did. And this is not summer as you can see but in the summer we took some great footage that you'll see of the bees in action. So let's go over here and take a look. So these are the beehives and the idea for the grant that we funded was that he would bring attention to the plight of the bees, by building the beehives on the roof and we would interact with the rest of the community here. So, he got a lot of what he learned from another person who had beehives in downtown Seattle and we put the bees on the roof and they've grown from one into many and we have thousands of bees here now. And we have a substantial supply of honey. And what we're doing to that honey is, one of the things is, we're going to sell it next spring in some of our shops and the restaurants here in Pioneer Square where our headquarters are. And then there's also a local chocolate company that's requested that they use it as an ingredient in the chocolate. So it's been really fun is that we've been able to activate social media and internally get our employees excited about this and we've had attention from the city as well. We've had articles written in the paper about it. So it's brought a lot of attention to what we want it, the plight of the bees, but also how to build a local community here. So there you go. You got a little glimpse of who we are, what we do, how we do it. You saw our technologies, our people, the stories that we create. And hopefully you can see how to wrap that all together and to create amazing experiences, brand experiences for your clients and maybe get a little sense of how you could organize or how you could work together. It was a lot of fun. Thanks for coming along.