Aug 10, 2019 | By Luke Tebbutt
Experience Lifestyle & Interiors on WGSN.
Sep 19, 2017
I am the biggest fan of technology, and infinitely interested in the way our relationship to our devices is evolving and advancing. But sometimes, the products being sold can feel a little… dry. Let’s put it this way: there are only so many smart radiator valves anyone can get excited about. And so, when I came across new brand Soda, I was excited to breathe in the fresh air they are offering. From their fun, irreverent tone of voice to the expertly curated, inventive product range they have put together, Soda (which stands for School of the Digital Age) is out to convince you that technology can be useful, engaging and genuinely enriching.
We spoke with founder Grace Gould to find out more about the brand. If you like the sound of it, head over to the shiny new online shop, or to its pop up in London’s Selfridges, to get your hands on some Soda.
What is Soda in a snapshot, and what sparked you to create it?
Soda is the School of the Digital Age, a destination for new ideas and innovative technology products. We offer a curation of smart products with the aim of making technology for tomorrow’s world both fun and useful. We created Soda because most tech products on the market today are made by boys for boys. Nothing resonated with us in a language we understood.
How did you approach the branding and tone of voice around Soda?
We commissioned the London design company Pentagram to create the look and feel of the brand. They understood that we wanted it to be playful as well as informative. And our creative director Jackie Annesley came from a background in newspaper journalism so she added the slightly irreverent tone of voice. Tech can be ridiculously serious and we didn’t want that. So for every product, we have “buy” and “don’t buy” advice for whom the product should go to (the “don’t buy” is funnier). We have also shot some how-to videos with a mum-of-four and playwright called Charlotte Macleod (Cha Cha to her friends). To say she is a technophobe is an understatement, but they make for amusing viewing.
How do you select the products, and what makes a great tech product for you?
We find inspiration everywhere: we love the creative industries and believe that they are pushing the boundaries of technology. We have collaborated with the newly relaunched fashion brand Fiorucci – we had an incredible first meeting with them where they showed us all this amazing archive imagery. We knew we had to collaborate with them on a great range of tech-cessories. These kind of partnerships are perfect for us, as we can bring the tech know-how to the relationship.
Experience and getting people hands-on with products also seems to be a big focus for you. How are you planning to bring Soda to life?
We make sure our staff in our pop-up in Selfridges really know the products so they can show customers how they work. We will also do more fun videos for online with Charlotte, and are commencing a series of talks for Soho House. They start this month with one at High Road House, asking the question – would you put an app in your undercarriage? It is pegged to the Elvie which we sell – and which helps tighten your pelvic floor. More and more products are being produced for women’s wellness. Next month we have an amazing woman called Pippa Malmgren talking about AI and the drone industry at Shoreditch House. She used to be a special advisor to George W Bush but switched careers. So many interesting people – and women – are coming into the industry.
And finally – what’s the future of tech?
Tech IS the future. Like Martha Lane Fox said, it’s not good enough to say one “doesn’t do” the internet. We have to embrace certain facets of it and make it work for you. Soda is here to help you do that.
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