The solstice marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the longest day of the year. In 2021, it also fires the starting gun for a lockdown liberation of sorts — and now too it will mark a first for us at DNCO, as the studio closes for the whole week for the first time in 15 years, outside the holiday season.

It makes sense doesn’t it? We’re all ragged, our mental health stores are low and we need a break don’t we? In a word, yes — but it’s more than that.

DNCO is a creative agency — clients come to us with some pretty complex challenges, from creating meaningful neighbourhood brands to reinventing the curatorial brief of museums to technical wayfinding strategies to digital transformation projects. It’s tremendously exciting and requires us to be at our best.

“To create something inspiring, we need to be inspired ourselves.”

To create something inspiring, we need to be inspired ourselves.

It’s incredible we’ve managed to solve problems to do with places and communities at a time when we’re starved of going to any, or being with anyone, but we battled to do so to meet the challenge of these extraordinary times.

What will an ‘inspiration week’ do to make our team and work better? It will give us room for at least 5 things:

1. First and foremost, this is a firebreak. We are creating a veritable palate cleanser to say ‘that was then and this is now and here’s what’s next’. We will clean the slate, reset, and put what we have learned in the past year to good use, so we can focus on our exciting plans and our future as a team together.

2. We need to reacquaint ourselves with friends and family. Many of us haven’t seen best friends or our closest relatives, or even been our best selves to spouses and roommates. In some cases these are wounds that need healing — matters that, left unattended, would otherwise get in the way of who we are and what we can do going forward.

3. We crave culture and need it to inspire us. Ours is a studio deeply committed to culture — we constantly compare notes on visits to museums, galleries, film, music and theatre, and many of us long for an airplane to take us away to a different culture altogether. Wherever we are with lockdown restrictions, we will seek out culture to reinvigorate our sense of curiosity and exploration.

4. We want to nurture our bodies with fresh air, change of scene, change of perspective. There are mountains to climb, roads to ride bikes on, lakes to swim in, forests to camp in. There is air to breathe beyond our homes — a freshness that we will be able to breathe into our projects.

5. And finally, there is hedonism — greek for pleasure — and we want some of it. Everyone has their own interpretation of this and it’s theirs to explore. Is it too much to hope for a 1967-style summer of love? We’ll bring hedonism back into our lives, and then sheer joy back into our work.

Throughout the pandemic we’ve worked hard with clients to do great work, and we’re excited to do even more. So we believe it’s time to take that breath, enjoy some hedonism and find new inspiration. And that’s why we’re closing the DNCO studio for a week on the 21st of June — we’ll be back a week later, refreshed, inspired and ready to tackle whatever the world might throw at us.

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