STILL looks at business like art looks at culture. We pursue projects that amplify the fundamentals of human nature, creating the extraordinary from the everyday.
STILL is brave and patient. Ours is an intergenerational organisation. We make decisions with a five hundred year outlook. We exist to help our country and our culture write exquisite stories of its own future.
Beautiful stories cannot be written without beautiful words. STILL uses its projects to add to the vocabulary of our culture. Our projects explore and create new words and colours that expand the ways in which we see, live in and imagine the world.
STILL makes projects in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ours is a sophisticated and brave little country. We relish big problems and celebrate tiny, humble things. Our size, agility and cultural intricacy afford us the speed and freedom necessary for global leadership. STILL gently seizes that leadership, using large numbers of small local projects to create global change.
We seek neither acceleration nor advancement. We seek instead the expansion of possibility and wonder. To be STILL is to discover the extraordinary in that which others rush past. To work with STILL is to reveal that wonder to the world.
An Indispensible Uselessness
A businessman’s one dying instruction to his grandson was to pay proper attention to the roses. Useless things can still be life or death things. At STILL, the activities we choose are quietly, uselessly, indispensable.
Stillness is not about efficiency and rationality. We seek value in the useless things that remain indispensable to humanity, like art. Art does not cure disease nor fill stomachs but has remained essential since the dawn of humanity, no matter how tenuous the necessities of life.
The candle has transcended its own obsolescence, and is still precious, more precious. Having lost its mechanical utility, we treasure its emotional utility all the more. Useless to us for light, we buy it for a hundred times its original price.
Useless things outlast useful things. They are not obsoleted or disrupted by technology, so they persist and strengthen over time. They are like layers of ephemeral mud coalescing under the pressure of great time into stratified rock. Culture, the bedrock of life, is the crystallised momentum of generations of useless play. STILL helps lay down those layers so that, over generations, we may contribute to the shape of a more beautiful culture.
As the context of a great thing evolves, so too does its function and its meaning. The greatest musical works of our culture start out special, but become extraordinary only through the layering of tens of millions of performances spread over centuries of enormous, violent change. Just as great works of art are not diluted by time, but gain potency from repeated performance and reinterpretation, so too must the projects of STILL.
Our role is like that of the composer of music: creating projects that will be reinterpreted, refined and kept relevant by generations, and which will get ever more potent and precious with time.
A Brave Slowness
The technology industries are brilliantly streamlining our experience of the world. In the process they are accelerating us into social, cultural and ecological debt. STILL exists to provide texture and friction and taste and smell and colour and noise and slowness and joy in the face of that slippery, monochromatic tech-driven blur.
STILL is not an act of resistance to technologisation, but a luscious counterbalance. Our goal is to expand who we consider ourselves to be as a people, and what we imagine ourselves capable of being.
STILL does not invent things. It changes them. We seek out the waste and latencies in existing fields. We pair these with the energies of commercial, environmental, artistic and governmental entities, working with their own ambitions and strengths to turn the overlooked into the extraordinary. STILL curates and gives meaning, purpose and interconnectedness to things. But it is not itself a thing. It is a system.
We give STILL the responsibility of the artist: to examine our familiar world from unfamiliar angles. We use new perspectives to amplify or create new values. In this way, humble and simple businesses gain the potential to lead beautiful cultural change. A garden centre is not a supermarket for plants, but an epicentre for the reconciliation of humanity and nature. A recruitment company is not a marketplace of people, but a platform for transforming how people may live their lives. Everything around us becomes a kind of ‘ready-made’ - a sea of orthodox entities that, with sensitive interventions, might yet be capable of the extraordinary.
Contemporary economic culture is ruthlessly optimised for asymmetrically distributed, short-term gain. Ecosystems create fertile, efficient long-term systems by synergising disparate, competing and often mundane components. The ecosystem provides a platform for individual characteristics to be honed over time. The honing of those characteristics in turn refines the ecosystem.
Ecosystems apply not just to nature, but to culture too – and each acts upon the other. STILL is a kind of ecosystem, designed to similarly harmonise a collection of disparate projects; a system that strives constantly to improve its businesses and activities, that they may in turn improve the unity and efficacy of the system.
We enjoy creating great big change from many interrelated little acts. Most of our projects will be small, so that they can embrace change. Smallness also enables brave leadership which, in a niche market, eclipses the orthodoxies of competition, mass marketing and corporate bureaucracy. Like Naoshima, Noma and Mona, the focus of our vision will be narrow, that they may deeply penetrate the cultures into which they are inserted.
Customer as Patron
In an architecture studio, a great patron will say ‘I have come to you because I have identified this special thing in your work, and I love this thing, and I wonder if you could push that thing even further in my own project.’ In this way a patron will let the architect see her own work through the lens of her audience. If she is sensitive to this, it will help her understand her work anew, and to find a new kind of focus.
At STILL, we see our customers as enlightened patrons. We focus our activities on the essential elements of their humanity. Their reaction to our work is one of our greatest treasures, and the catalyst for our continual refinement of that work.
We do not shout and shove our work down the throat of the world. Instead we place it carefully, so that it may be discovered and interpreted by people in their own terms. In this way, our customers and our partners take ownership of our work, and are afforded the freedom to layer it with their own interpretation. The more our endeavour is polished by their attention, the more it shines.
STILL gives shape to the businesses, investments, collaborations, cultural projects, lobbying and philanthropic endeavours of one New Zealand whānau.
Each face in this organisation is unique. We each have our own aesthetic sense. We know nature and beauty, and are indifferent to trends. We are very particular about detail, but entirely open to new concepts. We are inclusive and supportive and brave. We talk to one another, forging and re-forging our story. Step back, and our individual faces coalesce like diverse pixels into a single image: the face of STILL.