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  • Writer's pictureNick Keppel-Palmer

The power of origin stories

Updated: Apr 23

As humans we find it hard to relate to the planet at large but we are really attracted by places. Places give us a sense of belonging, of shared interest, of community.

Brands that negate or disregard place of origin miss all of that.

The sad thing is that for many brands they really don't know where their materials originate from - so they talk about factories and process and manufacturing but they can't talk about origin.

Yet the things we love come from somewhere, not from anywhere. (I'm a big fan of wine and cheese as an analogy for how to build a value chain that preserves and amplifies origin value).

Origin is an amazingly deep well of value. One of my very favourite brands to work on from recent times was the residential development brand "Biograpi".

It's all too easy to treat real estate as a soulless money making exercise. Packing people in. Flogging boxes.

But the Biograpi team wanted something different from the outset. They had a sense that something had been lost. A connection to the past, a connection to culture, above all a sense of places to live as places to LIVE.

Biograpi is Georgian. If you are lucky enough to visit Georgia you will find a people that thrive on community, on connection, on sharing and above all on stories. (Some say the loudest noise in the world is a Georgian on the phone).

Georgians aren't happy living in boxes. They are at their happiest gathered around makeshift tables, swapping stories. The culture is shaped by centuries of story telling. All their heroes are poets. And much more than that, every Georgian is specifically shaped by their specific place of origin - the food they love, their names, the way they talk, the colours they love, the sounds and sights that resonate - for a Georgian the region they come from, the village they come from, is at the core of their identity.

Designing spaces for Georgians means embracing this noisy story telling culture. It means creating spaces for community to grow and thrive. Spaces where people from different regions can come together, share their stories and build new ones together.

In economic terms it means sacrificing space for community. Avoiding the temptation to sweat every cubic millimetre of the asset and instead embracing the space that people and nature need to come together. A place bound by stories.

All of which creates value that matters, but value that cannot be measured.


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