那是曼哈顿一个寒冷却晴朗的冬日，阳光倾泻进PSFK位于邦德街的办公室，屋里的装饰很少，带着工业建筑设计的味道。走出电梯，就直接来到该公司开放式的办公区，地上铺的是抛过光的硬木地板，几个二、三十岁的年轻人并肩坐在长条桌旁，他们衣着随意，手指不停地在笔记本电脑上敲击。这里很容易被误解为一家设计学校的自修室或是一家斯巴达式的科技创业公司。事实并非如此，驻扎在这里的PSFK很可能成为新一代咨询公司的代表。该公司是更年轻、更敏捷，是21世纪版的麦肯锡（Mckinsey），它向苹果（Apple）、强生（Johnson & Johnson）等世界顶级企业提供趋势观察以及商业战略等服务。
PSFK到底有什么与众不同的地方？“（他们）比一般的趋势观察者更加好奇，”克里斯•莱利评价道。他是总部位于俄勒冈州波特兰的营销传播咨询公司莱利工作室（Studio Riley）的创始人，曾经是威登肯尼迪广告公司（Wieden + Kennedy）战略规划部门的负责人，还曾在苹果的图形设计及营销传播团队担任战略规划总监的职务。他说：“皮尔斯拥有谦逊的洞察力，他清楚世界上有许多持不同观点的人，通过跟他们打交道，皮尔斯能够厘清我们正在经历的种种纷繁复杂。”莱利曾在过去聘请PSFK分析人们如何在现实生活中适应在线体验。“PSFK能够引发你自己去思考，而不是提供什么‘人们并不会真正关心的十件事’这类东西。”
It's a chilly but bright winter day in Manhattan, and sunlight streams into the sparsely decorated, industrial-chic offices of PSFK on Bond Street. The elevator opens directly onto the polished, hardwood floor of the company's open workspace, where a number of casually-dressed twenty- and thirty-somethings sit side by side at long tables, typing away on laptops. This could easily be mistaken for a design school study hall or a spartan technology start up. Instead, it is home of what could be the next generation of consulting firm. PSFK is a younger, nimbler, 21st-century re-boot of the McKinseys of the world,offering trend insight and business strategies to top corporations from Apple to Johnson & Johnson.
Piers Fawkes, PSFK's bearded founder and president, sits in a glass walled conference room wearing an untucked plaid shirt and jeans. Across the table is the company's COO, Hedyeh Parsia, an elegant Wharton alumna with upswept black hair, hoop earrings, and a tastefully cool gray top and skirt, and Jeff Weiner, PSFK's commercial director, who sports neatly cropped hair and crisp business-casual clothes. The trio who head the company are wrapping up end-of-year business over coffee. Laughing and smiling, they have the habit of finishing each other's sentences.
Although it only has seven full-time employees and has been around less than a decade, PSFK has a client list to rival even the most established corporate consultancies: Coca-Cola (KO), Target (TGT), BMW, Nike (NKE), Microsoft (MSFT), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Intel (INTC), to name a few. Since 2005, leading companies have been hiring PSFK to provide custom research and recommendations around specific technology and innovation topics, such as retailers' in-store use of smart phones and tablets, or new ways that consumers are tracking their health via apps for their mobile devices.
What makes PSFK so different? "[They] are more curious than your standard trend watchers," observes Chris Riley, founder of Portland, Oregon-based marketing communications consultancy Studio Riley, a former head of strategic planning at ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, and a former strategic planning director in Apple's (AAPL) graphic design and marketing communication group. "Piers has the insight of humility, the awareness that there are many people with different views on the world and by engaging with them he can draw out the complexity of what we are living through," Riley continues. In the past, he has hired PSFK to analyze how people relate to their online experiences in the context of their offline lives. "PSFK stimulates your thinking rather than offering [the] 'top ten things you don't really care about.'"
Founded in 2004, when blogging was just beginning to explode, PSFK started out as the personal web site of Fawkes, then a young British advertising executive who had followed his girlfriend -- Parsia, to whom he's now married -- from London to New York, where she moved because of a job. He didn't have a visa and couldn't get a job of his own, so Fawkes passed the time riding a bike around the city, snapping digital photos and posting tidbits of what he thought was interesting online.
"I arrived when the self-publishing era started, when blogs like Engadget, and Nick Denton's sites, were all starting," Fawkes says in a soft and refined English accent. "I was trying to post signs of change and progress, writing three to four hours a day, hoping to inspire people to make their lives better. My friends asked to post, too, including my friend Simon King, the S.K. in PSFK, who wrote from London." Fawkes published their insights on innovations in the social-good, design, video game, retail and technology fields that they witnessed as they lived and worked and traveled around the world for work and fun.