Mark Noë: Future Design And Slowing Down Luxury

The Notebook | 26th January 2019

The founder of Noë & Associates on cutting-edge content creation, creating legacy and reclaiming the singular power of collective energy

Mark Noë is the brainchild behind the bi-coastal branding and content creation consultancy Noë & Associates, whose projects for some of the world’s most significant real estate, architecture and premium brands are fast becoming touch-points for those seeking chic, authentic solutions at the cutting-edge of media communication. Originally hailing from Scotland, Mark Noë founded the consultancy in 2012 in New York, driven by a desire to modernize and transform the way in which high-end clients in the arena of design and architecture talk about themselves, and communicate their respective visions–often taking a less-is-more approach in order to distil minimalist simplicity of purpose. Last year, the consultancy opened its sister office in London at Mortimer House, expanding their enviable team of creative talent and bringing the collective’s unique approach to strategy, content creation and storytelling to the beating heart of Fitzrovia. Here, founder Mark Noë, who originally cut his entrepreneurial teeth creating album artwork for musicians working in the Ninja Tunes musical genre in the early 90s, tells Maslow's Notebook why the future of content is about slowing down time and paying attention, and explains why true luxury lies in a return to tactile, physical media, and unplugging from the relentless noise of the digital matrix.

How would you describe the arena of content creation in the digital age?
There is a desire now for a return to intelligent content. I think the past few years has been about everyone jumping on the ‘new platform’ bandwagon, and that is all good, for a while, but what we are seeing now is a return to the simple fact that the content itself is king. If you look at Netflix and the intelligent content that is going on there, you realise that all these platforms are returning to substance. Virtual Reality is really the perfect example of style over substance in terms of how many have used a platform. In the last year-or-two, interest in it has actually slowed down significantly, and that is largely because everyone was jumping on the VR bandwagon, but very few were creating strong or engaging content, so, the experience, in most cases, was mediocre, at best. It's a great platform, which demands a compelling experience, but without the right quality content, it actually can have a negative impact.

What would you say are the core differentiation points that define Noë & Associates?
I have always gravitated towards authenticity, and I always think people doing simple things better is very appealing. In terms of our clients, we always start with a blank sheet of paper, and our process is really about thoroughly interrogating and distilling what the brand is about, and, very importantly, going to the brand with no pre-conceptions, because the client always knows their brand better than you, but may often have retroactive notions of how to deliver their message. It’s usually all there, but it’s about bringing it together in a simple and much more cohesive way. Essentially, doing that well is about creating compelling works that are not just for the moment, but are still going to feel relevant in ten or fifteen years. Actually, I think that is precisely what has led me towards brand strategy and content creation in terms of the built environment and architecture – because, arguably, it is the design discipline that should have the longest legacy. If you can have a part in creating the narrative around that, it’s a great privilege.

How would you define contemporary luxury?
Traditional luxury is, of course, about show and bragging, and so on, but real luxury is about time, and peace, and quiet, and that’s what we try to do–slow things down. When I pick up a beautiful book or magazine from the coffee table the enjoyment is ten-fold what it was in the past, because we are saturated by digital noise all the time. For me, the greatest luxury is having time to your self, so it’s important to turn off the noise, and engage with something tactile–and those old-school principles of tactility and utility come through in everything that we do. I really feel it’s high time for us all to unplug, or to only plug-in to actually learn something. I recently watched the Live Aid performance of Queen in the 80s. There was not one phone or one hand-held recording device at that concert–it was just the moment, and people being in that moment. I fear we’re losing that potential for collective energy.

Why have you chosen to make Mortimer House your home?
Mortimer House has been a revelation. I was on the fence about co-working, because we had tried to find a space before this, and it had felt very start-up and millennial–it wasn’t really right for an active business. Mortimer House is really the opposite to all of that–it’s on-brand, professional, and there is real attention to detail and hospitality. It’s also not overly tech-driven. It’s a people-first environment that has invested in really good design, and I respond well to good design, and attention to detail.

Inteview: John-Paul Pryor
Portrait: Mary Kang