Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

Beyond Interactive: Interview With Benjamin Falvo from Clark + Huot

The strategic branding and interactive firm Clark + Huot came to me by way of Twitter. I was intrigued by their blog, their Canadian-ness and devotion to sharing new music. The firm recently opened an office in New York. To head up their Digital Practice, they hired Benjamin Falvo, founder of the NYC digital and interactive agency Dream Store, known for his highly successful interactive event that fuses old time roller disco with modern sites and sounds called Down & Derby.

You've found success in interactive design with little training from traditional advertising or design agencies. What kinds of experiences and know-how do you bring to the table that you feel those that follow a safer path are lacking?

I wouldn't necessarily describe it as safer.  I think what I bring to the table is initiative through energy and not being able to be afraid to think differently. I also think my perspective from not taking a traditional path helps me generate ideas that would otherwise not be brought up.

At Dream Store, the company you founded, you offered clients both interactive/design and event consulting. How did these two different offerings compliment each other? 

Having both of these skills allows me the ability to create a complete experiential platform for clients and also the vehicle to communicate it as well.

Did planning events ever tie into your website design work? 

Yes... but that's why I built an amazing, eclectic and experienced team around me so we could carry out all projects at the highest level.  There was definitely a learning curve when I started doing the event based projects and tying them into web initiatives.  However once it was achieved it was refined over and over again until I felt we could approach any project and be able to caveat for any type of challenge.

You were just hired to head up Digital Practices at the branding and interactive firm Clark + Huot. Why is it important for brands to think about their digital practices from the beginning of the branding process?

Just think about this... if you want to find out about a product, service or even a person... what's the first thing you do? Search for it on the web. It is critical that we represent our clients in the absolute best possible light and in this era, our first impression is whatever we see on our computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.

There are so many different aspects to digital beyond building websites, creating social media campaigns or mobile apps. What areas of digital are you excited to explore through this new partnership? 

I'm really excited to do more work on brand initiatives and how they are communicated on a global scale through the web. Working with Clark + Huot allows me the privilege to bring my experience to the conversation at the table.

You are tasked with helping to generate new ways of thinking and working within Clark + Huot. What are some activities, places you go or things you read regularly that help keep your thinking fresh? 

I'm a big history buff (I suppose). I read a lot of historical books. I'm really fascinated by how people move both physically and culturally through time. I feel that is always a relevant conversation and topic in the work that we do. Some of the things I do to keep me thinking fresh? Some days I just go on a walk through the city for 40 or 50 blocks... it allows me to clear my head. It also exposes me to so many different people from all types of backgrounds in the city... similar to the historical stuff.  But seeing every type of person is very inspiring. I know that sounds cliché.

Speaking of fresh thinking, Clark + Huot is based in Winnipeg, Canada, seemingly an entire world away from New York City. What have you learned from working with people from such different backgrounds as your own? 

The amazing sense that there are so many common themes about humanity cross-culture.

And finally, who would be your dream client? Or what category would you love to work with at Clark + Huot? 

I think it would be something involving travel. I've worked with big brands, which are great. However I love travel. I would love to create a great web experience for people so they can really envision a place, thought, feel of whatever culture they will be traveling too.