In a sea of grim, gloomy and in some cases downright misleading headlines, I wanted to write about something completely different: creativity, communication and connection – elements of life that, until recently, were fundamental to our studio. And so, 2020 has left us questioning what the future holds for businesses, economies and, more importantly, the rapidly growing and increasingly demanding world full of people?
There will be, as we are already starting to see, endless debate about a ‘new normal’ and what this will look like. Lockdowns clearly have huge implications for many sectors, but the arts and creative sectors face particular challenges. Having worked my way up the designer ladder to Creative Director, and now running a business with multiple services including digital, branding, illustration and animation, it is time for serious reflection. A time to learn, an opportunity to better understand our process and a time to make sure we safeguard the ingredients that we hold most dearly whilst the contrast has been artificially dialled up to 11. It’s a time to improve what we do so that when our clients are able to work more effectively again we’ll be able to offer them more than we did before.
If you could write the equation to reliably generate ideas then you would simultaneously make the life of designers much easier and much less valuable. I don’t believe in magic, but I do believe in something we might lazily describe as magic, that happens when creative people with completely different skills, experiences, and ways of thinking, work together. But there’s more to it than that. I believe for people to be truly creative they need mess, irregularity, spontaneity, free-form, rich interactions not bound by screen meetings, discrete timed calendar invites and lagging connections. Ultimately physical proximity is hard to beat. Creativity and innovation is the supermarket orchid of plants, destined to die without the proper climate and conditions.
Turning things on their heads is not always negative; difficult times often reveal opportunities for innovative solutions to long-standing problems. At Together we have been working not only on developing our process and adapting to new conditions, but also doing what we can to protect and improve the environment and conditions we have created for producing new and exciting ideas. We have taken on a number of innovative projects and look forward to talking more about them in the near future.
If, as many businesses seem to be suggesting, that a return to ‘normal’ office spaces is unlikely and possibly unnecessary, what will be the cost in lost creativity and innovation? Of course, there are some jobs and contexts where not too much is lost. To us though, there is an uncomfortable feeling that, much like the incubation period of the virus that brought us to this point, we won’t know the costs of the loss of creativity and innovation until it’s too late.