Once a year its imperative (if we wish to remain creative and sane) that we take a break from the everyday grind and we go and explore a new place – a new way of thinking and of looking at the world. Hence we found ourselves this year on a tropical island surrounded by extended family and soaking up the sun, sea and tropical air. While the holiday itself didn’t particularly fill that creative well in terms of offering a culture so far removed from my own as to stretch the boundaries of imagination. What it did do is force my busy mind to concentrate more on building sandcastles and less on building a business. More on preventing territorial scuffles between the young ‘uns and less on conflict in the workplace. It also meant that by the time I came back to the real world I was relaxed and so totally receptive to the amazing 2 days I then spent at The Business of Design seminar in Cape Town. The line up of speakers covered many of the design disciplines but what was so awesome was that each was cutting edge in their thinking, revolutionary in their field, filled with the fire only true passion can ignite. I scribbled copious notes as each visionary spoke about their particular topic and here are a couple of things that really stood out for me when i look back on the 2 days. Each speaker deserves a blog of their own so this is just a taste…
Brian Steinhobel is an industrial designer who has crafted everything from furniture to weapons, sound systems to sports equipment, cars, deck chairs, jets, the list is endless. He talks about taking the mundane and making it extraordinary and his designs are great examples of just that. He mentioned two developments that he called “World Disruptors” that would catapult us into a new era. The first one being The Microsoft hollow lens which combines holographics and augmented reality and allows us to interact with reality and “illusion” simultaneously. The second which truly blows my mind is Carbon 3d printing. We are all becoming aware of 3d printing but the idea of carbon printing that works at 1000 x the speed of normal 3d printing and grows organically rather than being put down in layers pretty much does my head in.
Sean Mahoney from Studio Mass spoke about designing for the environment and creating inner city edible landscapes. The necessity for urban design to look at green buildings, green appliances, better lighting solutions and he dared us to rip up our lawns and grow edible gardens. I’ve been looking at my lawn askance ever since.
Scott Gray from Quirk spoke about businesses thriving in a digitally enabled world and the new truths of that world. Emelie Gambade – editor of Elle magazine South Africa discussed the role of fashion on the continent and how what we wear has the power to talk about us, to leave a mark on our culture, our journey and be important recorders of our time.
Conn Bertish the phenomenon behind Cancer Dojo talked about using visualization and imagery to connect with your illness. “The Dojo Thinking approach uses the art and science of Psychoneuroimmunology to enable your brain and body to work together as a team to boost your immune system and engender a more positive cancer outcome.” He spoke about humanizing medicine and giving patients a role in their own healing.
Stefan Antoni Director of international sought after SAOTA ( architectural firm), was tremendously inspiring with his topic of Local goes Global. He spoke about how true excellence requires that you edge just a little further, push the boundaries just a little harder,which can often mean that you have to go back and re look at the basics and that can open up a whole new line of thought.As was the theme with all the speakers the crux of it seemed to be that Great Design creates value and that true excellence and an absolute dedication to mastery is the difference between making it and not. He reminded us that every project, no matter how small, must be done at 100% and to that end he insists on controlling every aspect of the detailing, packaging and look.
What really struck me throughout was the similarity in business principles and practices that had taken these creatives to the top of their game. Mr Antoni spelled out the most important points in creating a great company as follows:
- Having the right people in place within your organization.
- Having the right Systems in place to support you and enable a lot of your work to be automated.
- adding little incremental improvements that take you in the right direction.
- meeting every week to review every aspect of the business from Marketing to accounts and everything in between.
- Being very thorough and very clear in very thing you do.
Perhaps my favourite idea from the 2 days was that you cannot release genius without clear thinking and taking clear steps. Contrary to what many believe, the business of extreme creativity is not wishy washy and vague but precise, measurable and exact.