Saturday, 4 January 2014

Storytelling by Ikea

Ikea, the world known furniture and decorations seller from Sweden. You either hate them, or you are a big fan of them. 

But they do tell a strong story, to which they stick. 

They started in Sweden and they do tell you. The design with lots of wood and light colours is Northern European. All the names of the furniture have a Swedish background. The famous meatballs in the restaurant are a Swedish tradition. Every store is very recognisable in the bright yellow and blue, the colours of the Swedish flag.

The showroom, yes that maze that you can't get out. It is a big story. They do tell you what Ikea is selling, showing you practical solutions for the problems you could encounter in such a room. Making it all look and feel cosy, as if you could live there, in that showroom. And everything on display they sell. The carpet, the painting, the cushions, the light, everything is there for you to buy.

And than there is the catalogue. Wow, just look at Wikipedia and be blown away by the numbers. In 2013 208 million copies were printed, in 62 versions for 43 countries! That's more than any book has prints in a year.

And when you tell such a powerful story, you can even take a joke:

Ikea, a strong brand with a strong story.

Friday, 3 January 2014


No, not an instruction on how to frame your art work. But a technique used in communications and also in storytelling.

But I will use the art work frame to explain framing.

Framing is telling a part of the story or certain details of a story to get your opinion told. Like holding a 10 x 10 frame in front of The Nightwatch. You will only see a part of the picture, just a face, shoes, the little dog, but not the entire picture.

All stories are of course framed. Because you can't tell everything that is happening to everybody through the entire story. So when we leave Tom Bombadil behind in The Fellowship of the Ring, we don't know what is happening to him after that. He falls out of the frame and doesn't matter to the story anymore.

Framing in other media like news can be very misleading.
I'm going to use the next image as an example.

The middle image in colour is the entire picture, a man in war time, getting some water.
The cut out on the left side is an entire different picture. A man being held under fire.
And the cut out on the right side another completely different image. A soldier giving a poor man something to drink.

One picture, but with the frame you put over it, three completely different stories.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Life of Pi

Life of Pi of course has a book and a movie.
But for this blog I'm going to use the book. Why, because it has so more depth than the movie, although the movie was visually stunning.

But the book allows you to go in your own pace to places you have never been before, walking with Pi through his fathers zoo, through the hills of India, on the big boat (Tsimtsum) and on that so very small boat and of course finally back on land. Where he talks to the two investigators from the firm the Tsimtsum was from.

The part I really liked and shows the importance of a good story with good characters is where Pi just told the two investigators the story of his amazing survival. He got off the Tsimtsum in a small lifeboat together with a zebra, an orangutan, an hyena and a tiger named Richard Parker. After a short struggle Pi and Richard Parker remain. With Richard Parker in the life boat and Pi on a small raft behind it.

The investigators don't believe him. It can't be true with all the animals, since Richard Parker has vanished when getting onto land. They want to force him to tell the "truth", give them the names of the people with whom he got of the boat. This quote follows:

'So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?' Mr. Okamoto: 'That's an interesting question?' Mr. Chiabe: 'The story with animals.' Mr. Okamoto: 'Yes, The story with animals is the better story.'

Pi respond to it with that it is the same with believing in God. But I think it is the same with all stories. A good story needs characters you can relate to, emphasize with. An exciting storyline. Something the reader can take with him, to learn from and believe in. So if that is with animals or with people, indeed, as long as it is a good story, it is worth telling and hearing.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!!

Let's start a new year with lots of new stories to share and listen to.

And while you all start a New Year, I'm truly starting a new year.

Yes, one year older (and hopefully wiser).

I was officially due on December 28th, but since my mother told everybody that she would fire me off with the fireworks, as a good girl should, I listened. There I was, January 1st. My first story, and one I still share.

Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve

The last day of the year is here.

New Year's Eve.

I have to say, for a Dutchie, that's a strange word. The Eve before New Year, we call it Old Year's Day (oudejaarsdag). Both are of course correct, but the word New Year a day ahead, strange?! In Eastern Europe they call it Sylvester, because it is the celebration day for Saint Sylvester. But than, the Germans also "slide" into New Year. They wish everybody "einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr" (a good slide into the New Year). They are probably partying big time!

The evening is celebrated amongst family and friends. Having some food, playing games or watching TV.

Just before midnight, the champagne is pulled from the cooler so that everybody has a glass in their hands to welcome the new year and leave behind an old one. And wishing everybody a very happy new year.

And than, to make it an even bigger party, fireworks. In most places in the world it is an organised big fireworks display (for instance from the Sydney Harbour Bridge), in The Netherlands we all fire our own fireworks. That is a lot of noise and smoke in the air those first few hours of the new year. Yes, the first few hours. Don't expect to go to bed before 2, because you will be woken up by somebody who did find a new batch to fire off.

Closing the stories of this year and starting new stories for a fresh new year.

See you in 2014!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Growing up in music

Growing up. One big story. Everyday something new to discover. Listening to the stories of others, your parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, brothers and sisters. And telling your own story.

Songwriters use this concept also.

I found two wonderful examples.

One of growing up and one of staying young:

Growing up, the ever changing fantasies happening to kids:
Taylor Swift, ft. Ed Sheeran; Everything has changed

Staying young:
Death Cab for Cutie; Stay young, go dancing

Since I already passed the age of young, I'll just keep dancing.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Storyteller

Ah, the childhood memories come drifting up as I'm writing this.

One of my favourite series when I was young.

The storyteller

When people told themselves their past with stories.
Explained their present with stories.
Foretold their future with stories.
The best place by the fire was kept for The Storyteller.

Produced by Jim Henson (from The Muppets) with John Hurt as The Storyteller (as I told you earlier, that voice, he can do no wrong for me). The stories are based on the lesser well known European folk tales. It aired in 1986 with 9 episodes and got a spin off with 4 episodes about Greek mythology.

A lot of (now) famous actors played along together with puppets from Jim Henson's studio. 

For my Lord of the Rings-friends. Check out this one and see who you recognize.