If you’ve not guessed it by now then I should explain it to you. About two and a half years ago Central packed up, moved out and closed the Sausalito offices indefinitely. Not because we were asked to but because it made best sense to do so. For personal reasons I wasn’t going to be able to focus on Central for the foreseeable future. So after about eight years of operations I put things to sleep, as it were.
We didn’t make any formal announcement of being asleep as it wasn’t clear how long I’d be away from Central. As it turns out, I’ve been away a lot longer than I originally thought I’d be.
Two things worth mentioning upfront are: One: The shop is and has been closed. Sorry. And two: Central isn’t hiring.
If you have ordered a T-Shirt recently you’ll end up receiving a full refund and likely a very apologetic note from me. It will be sincerely apologetic about being unable to fulfill an order. In time, like as soon as I can figure it out, the shop will be taken down and hopefully no longer disappoint anyone.
If you’ve sent in a CV and thoughtfully written a short note about an interest in working at Central, I am grateful but I don’t often get a chance to reply directly to all job inquiries. Central is not hiring full-time staff right now.
So what’s next? The most interesting projects at Central were the ones we produced ourselves. Where we looked for the funding and we designed and managed them internally. Sometimes an idea was brought to us or we generated the vision for the project from our own interests. In a sense, our job was to manufacture and execute the idea. Firms like BERG or Near Future Laboratory inspired us through their visionary design fiction work. There was always a desire to shift the consulting more towards producing projects we were interested in. Creating an imbalance where we did less for clients and more for ourselves.
Going forward Central will no longer be accepting proposals for consulting projects. Nor will it be hiring consultants. Central as a consulting firm is now closed.
Instead Central will be in the business of manufacturing ideas. Looking for new ideas that solve problems in interesting ways that need help being manufactured and executed. In particular complex problems. Things like supply chains. Large-scale systems. But also simple things like stories. Or meaningful applications. This might look like investing in startups, helping entrepreneurs conduct research in specific areas or developing new products and services that Central can launch, brand and/or distribute. I see it as a blend of what Betaworks, Obvious, Pixar, Future Partners and the D School does. Imagine if Bad Robot merged with Betaworks. Then rewind that back to the first few days of them being in business, without their decades of success and experience, and you have some kind of idea where Central now is starting out. Just armed with a few decades of experience in human centered design. And no illusion of achieving their kind of success.
I’m still interested in using speculative design (design fictions) for imagining alternative future scenarios for things like the future of water, future of forests or other large-scale transformations. These projects will continue to be long-term developments for Central. Or the new Central.
So before the lights go out on this version of Central, I’d like to thank those who visited, collaborated, contributed, worked, moved furniture, joined, watched horror movies with, dined with, inquired, partnered with and those who were Central. Thank you.