Few companies keep their fingers on the cultural pulse of web technology, design and trend development quite as firmly as PSFK, the online consultancy that began as two friends sharing their observations on cultural and consumer trends and ballooned into an international innovation company with offices across the globe and an inspiring blog. We caught up with one half of the founding team, Piers Fawkes, and got the low-down on what he does, how he does it, and, of course, where Piers likes to go on his holidays…
First up, what does PSFK stand for? What inspired you to start the business?
It was originally the initials (mixed up) of the founding writers (myself and Simon King). In fact, PSFK was a previous business I ran with Simon. I wasn’t expecting the ‘trends site’ project to go anywhere so I used the URL I still had to save me money buying a new one. Simon has long since departed and runs the fabulous fashion label London Denim.
Credit crunch, schmedit crunch… what we all need during January’s bleaker moments is a bit of holiday escapism. So we quizzed editor of Luxury Travel magazine Alyson Cook about the highs and lows of luxury, and asked her for some luxe-for-less tips to make your budget go further…
Luxury for me is the chance to relax and hide away in a hotel incognito; unrecognised by an enthusiastic general manager keen to impress me with his latest, luxury suite tour! I love my job and I have been privileged to stay at some amazing places, but I also guard my privacy with the family – the chance to be with them, undisturbed, in a sunny location, preferably with a good book in one hand and a glass of fine white wine in the other, is my ideal relaxation.
In Part 1 of our Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide, we brought you perfect xmas present tips from Mr & Mrs Smith’s favourite lovely people at all-natural beauty company Jo Wood Organics, holiday and beachwear purveyors Heidi Klein, luxury lingerie and gift company Coco Ribbon and haute jewellers Astley Clarke.
Today, we’re sprinkling around another handful of snowy, sparkling good cheer and mulled wine glowiness, while carolling loudly about figgy pudding and the like, with our second sackful of Christmas gift ideas…
Alain Ducasse – a longtime leading light on the culinary scene – hardly needs an introduction. Here, we talk to the mighty Michelin-starred chef behind projects as varied as Le Louis XV in Monaco and, recently, a quartet of French country inns, including Smith stays Domaine des Andéols in Provence and L’Andana in Tuscany. Alain also oversees the restaurant at the swish St Regis Washington DC.
There can be few things more irksome than being left out while an entire roomful of smug people simultaneously rave about something you’ve never tried (like a super-exclusive wine) or somewhere you’ve never been (like a favourite hotel) – and believe me, at Mr & Mrs Smith, it’s a regular occurrence. It’s like being back in the playground, having missed that vital episode of Dynasty and therefore being condemned to permanent social Coventry. See sample conversation below.
Colleague 1: ‘I was at Chewton Glen for a spa weekend last month, we had such a great time…’
Colleague 2: ‘Oh yes, I love it there! The New Forest is so lovely. And aren’t the rooms great?’
Colleague 3: ‘Yes, we stayed in the Poachers Suite when we went down last year…’
Colleague 2: ‘That’s where we stayed too! The bathroom’s amazing, isn’t it? And what about that two-person shower, eh!’ [repeat ad nauseam with self-congratulatory smiles all round]
Even anonymous members of the public were rubbing it in, voting Chewton Glen on of the top three ‘Best UK hotels‘ in a recent poll in the Sunday Times Travel supplement.
It used to annoy me. But not any more. Because – drum roll please – I am now a fully signed-up member of the official Chewton Glen Fan Club and feel that entitles me to a lengthy gush about a wonderful wine-tasting evening I recently spent at Hampshire’s Most Splendiferous Spa-Enhanced Country-House Hotel.