10th October 2016

Meeting Wayne – why places are a bit like cocktails

The way people, property and place interact, inspire and intertwine is a heady cocktail which can result in a seductive blend or something that leaves an unpleasant taste. 

Place-making (or the making of a place if less intentional) is a particularly interesting business and Wayne Hemingway’s talk at the Manchester Evening News property lunch this week proclaimed successful places are the ones which have placed people at the core of their development. I agree. 

He shared examples from King’s Cross and the much-acclaimed Dismaland which work so fantastically because they struck a meaningful chord that was of the moment for their audience – the people. 

Having worked with a number of places on their communications and positioning, I’m keen to revert back to the cocktail analogy. Too much of one thing or not enough of another can tip the end taste entirely off kilter and they just won’t resonate with people. And though they provide strong foundations, it’s rarely the main boozy ingredients (the infrastructure and town planning) that make a place or else we’d be happy drinking neat gin. 

The things that make a place are the soft assets; the education, culture, business scene and amenities or elderflower, cucumber, tonic and mint.  This also explains why not all places are for all people with some preferring chocolate box rural and others modernist and industrial. The key to place-making is to be true to the place. Reinvention is fine but it should be a twist on the original. The ingredients of a place should be celebrated individually but then positioned confidently as its own unique mix.