Mobile WorkLife } by Ben Jenkins (OFB Founder) | Comments (11)
There was certainly much to forget about in 2009 for many people, myself included. But looking back I have to say it's been one of the best years of my life. First, all of the challenges we, our clients, our friends, etc. experienced just got me re-focused on what was most important to me. And I am happy for that. In 2009, my third son Shaw was born and he is just well....AWESOME. I was honored with a very nice award
and I appreciate that. I got to rebrand (more like restore) my favorite childhood restaurant
in 2009. And then I realized a long time big dream of mine. So I wanted to introduce everyone to the 1958 Airstream OneFastBuffalo mobile office. The OFB mobile office has been a vision on the giant cork board in my home studio for many years. And in 2009...it got done.
ABOUT THE TRAILER
I've been searching for the right trailer for many years and never found the right opportunity. But a while back I came across a great guy named Eric Stoltz who restores vintage travel trailers
and I knew the time had come to get started. The OFB rig is 100% rebuilt on the inside, not just refurbished. The 21 ft 58' aluminum shell was brought back to life, rivet by rivet. The project took about 15 months and I was able to work with Eric to customize his already great floor plan to fit my specific work needs and OFB brand stylings. Eric takes a minimalist approach and every inch of the trailer is thought out for how we live today...not 1958. At the same time it's what he chose to leave out that makes it so great. It's anything but overdone. I love the simplicity of my trailer. The inside consists of real mahogany cabinets built in a classically modern style, off-white vinyl and leather hide seats with black countertops. We also did roll-down shades made from plain burlap. The mobile office is ultra lightweight due to the lighter weight aircraft aluminum used in the 50's as well as the use of real wood. Today trailers mostly consist of particle board and an abundance of gears, gadgets, tons of wiring, pumps, etc. For example a new Airstream of the same length would weigh about 2000lbs more than this one. I'm able to pull this with my small Toyota FJ Cruiser...no problem. It's truly mobile. I also designed an "Airstream" version of the OneFastBuffalo logo and had emblems made for the trailer.
I'll probably set a new record for pics attached to a blog post here.....so please forgive me. The Airstream is my 4th kid so you know how we parents are with the family portraits. There are tons of pics so be sure to use the NEXT button to scroll. Also, my kid sister Katie Norris is a photographer
and did a nice photo shoot for me. I wanted to show off some of her work as well.
WHY A TRAILER?
"Working from anywhere" is always something that I have enjoyed exploring. I see more things, and the result is I have more ideas. I'm not a huge fan of product tag lines, preferring more the approach of building a great brand story and executing that story. But Airstream's tagline is one I do like.
Live more. See more. Do more.
I appreciate the Airstream brand in every way, a company started by one man's vision, passion and relentless pursuit to change the way we experience the world.
Lots of people ask me what I do for a living. I have played some ball in my life, worked as teacher, a consultant, and few other things.
But MAKING THINGS is WHAT I DO. Simple as that. The mobile office, to me, is the ultimate marriage of HOW I work best, and WHERE I work best. By this I mean, I work WHERE I AM. And WHERE I AM, is where I need to be to explore and see what I need to see...in order to make things. I don't mean that in a "hey I'm a wandering hippie" kinda of thing. It's not an aimless type of exploration really. It's more of a sojourn for the purpose of making what ever it is I'm supposed to make.
This is a fact. Most of the best design that I have ever crafted was surely not done in the office or studio. In our industry that kinda scares some clients. They are just more comfortable with the idea that the professional WORK happens in the professional OFFICE/STUDIO. We have that, but for me, the key to "where we work" is that the art of making things happens via a not so simple 2 step process of:
Step 1) Exploration.
Exploring and taking in information of all forms. For instance I am a huge "junker" in that I like finding old things and using parts of those things to make new things. I'm certainly influenced by "new" things as well. I classify "junk" as anything I find and keep or document for the purpose of inspiration. That includes things I hear as well so I record lots of sound bites. Currently my iMac has around 25,000 pics on it. I just take pics of anything I see that is well..."creative food." I really don't believe that I have many ideas that come solely from me even as a designer. My brain is just not a repository or wellspring of good ideas, good designs, or original thoughts. That is, not if you just ask me to sit in a room and think for you. I do however know how to have good ideas. All those ideas come from absorbing relevant information and living with it until we find insight and inspiration. I do admit there is a talent to being a good designer but without exploring the outside world our ides don't connect with our audience. And so our key techniques at OFB are built around this idea. We simply look harder for ideas than most people. We don't sit around in a brainstorming tank and "conjure" ideas. We surely collaborate with each other. But I think ideas are gifts we receive when we pro-actively ask ourselves to learn about things. And I do mean that in a super hippie kind of way. HaHa. One of my favorite tricks is using long distance running to process what I have learned into ideas. About mile 6 I am screwed if I don't have a sketch pad or voice recorder.
Step 2) Intense Creative Focus
A place to sit and dig into ONE project for long streams of time until you have forged something new...uniquely new. Once we have gathered enough research we start to learn. When we learn we start to reprocess all that we have seen, and heard up to that point. We begin to see the key insights that reveal good ideas. Then we need to get focused and find some solitude. I'm talking about lock me in a small space, 2 gallons of coffee, 18 hour workday day, my entire iTunes library of music, no shoes, favorite jeans, with nothing but a laptop, a wireless mouse, some power, a huge box of research, "I won't come out until i've forged something BETTER... dammit. So just crack a window and put the food outside the door" ...... kind of solitude.
From a focus standpoint, you can't beat the 1958 Airstream OneFastBuffalo mobile office. One of my favorite things to do is head out early in the morning to one of the Texas State parks (we have over 200 hundred I think) in the Airstream, set up camp, grill some buffalo steaks, brew up some New Mexico Pinon coffee, and work on ONE specific client project until it's done. That usually means 2 full days with a chunk of sleep and a jog or two. Its not like I disconnect from the world completely...I have a mobile internet card and many state parks even have wireless internet now. But I surely turn off my cell and try to answer messages and email only once a day. It's an incredibly rewarding experience to get to focus on creative work that intensely with minimal distractions. I thank my AWESOME wife for these focus days. I also have a great team of people at OFB that carve out those days for me and our designers by focusing their craft on planning and strategy. After the work is done I'm mentally spent. And then I like to have my wife and kids come meet me for 2 days of fun (camping, fishing, hiking, shootn cans, and junkn around.
NEW PLACE FOR CLIENT MEETINGS
We are giving an all new meaning to the phrase, "we'll come to you." Since we have acquired the trailer we have done many of our initial new business meetings from the trailer, or just outside the trailer, even though we have a nice office for that kind of thing. For instance, we were invited to meet with Cinemark movie theaters recently and instead of meeting in a conference room we had a BBQ in their office parking lot. Then we met with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Resort. The trailer is also great for literally LIVING at a client's place of work where we can really dive into learning about their culture during our strategy sessions.
Stay tuned for more Airstream adventures in Mobile Creative Worklife.
Watch a video
where our Mobile Office was featured on San Antonio living