Why “Useless Projects” Is Really A Catalyst For Creative Ideas
As a designer and branding guy, I typically have to move within the constraints and guidelines of a project, which is good; it helps to create a cohesive and compelling campaign or brand identity and to stay on target. However, it often cuts the creative potential short. After discussing this problem with other designers, I started to encourage myself and my peers to kick off the creative incubator, “Useless Projects,” as a side project. I believe that the fewer constraints we're exposed to, the less compromised artwork can be. This may not be commercially viable instantly, but that’s not the purpose.
Charles Eames, the famous designer, became the inspiration with his quote:
“My dream is to have people working on Useless Projects. These have the germ of new concepts.”
Before we look at a useless project, let’s take a few minutes and have a look at a “useful” project. The designer’s creative potential often sits buried and benign like a hydrogen atom as compromises and decisions by committee govern the client/creative relationships. Many of the ideas that do spark excitement within the designer are ground down by these forces. This is a typical “useful” project.
On the other hand, useless projects allow a designer to kick around that hydrogen atom and to work on ideas that are distant from the world of commerce and absent are the pressures that necessitate compromise. When liberating oneself from these pressures a designer’s genius can once again raise to the surface. Over time, these seemingly useless projects lead to new ways of thinking about design and help the growth of the individual designer on both a “practical and metaphysical” level as writer Maria Popova would say, and, ultimately, present, and future client will see the benefit from the designer’s exploration.
In the past, Google has encouraged their employees to utilize a portion of their work schedule to take on passion projects. These were not any restrictions mandating these projects to pursue the strategic goals of Google. One of the things that came out of this is perhaps the most utilized app outside of their search engine: Gmail.
I want something that has the potential to bleed into future concepts, I want to create a platform, an incubator that allows designers to show not what is but what could be. This also creates space to experiment with styles and elements one would typically not consider in corporate communications. Raw, unfiltered, experimental, crazy, provocative.
Below a few examples