The prime avenue for growing a business is and has always been innovation. Without it, there's no real growth. Over the years, we found there are two essential ingredients to push the envelope: It takes curiosity and creativity to explore new directions. Curiosity is the mindset that gets us out of a fear zone, the fear of change, and creativity is the tool to explore uncharted waters. In tandem, they allow us to develop ideas that lead to innovation and growth.
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As a designer and branding expert, 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 business identity and to stay on target. The downside is that it often cuts the creative potential short. As a result, I encouraged myself and my peers to - whenever we are stuck in the creative process - utilize a creative incubator, a “Useless Project,” inspired by this quote by Charles Eames.
“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 look at a “useful” project. The designer’s creative potential often sits buried and benign like a hydrogen atom as compromises and decisions by committees 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. Absent are the pressures that necessitate compromise. A designer’s genius can surface again when liberating oneself from these pressures. 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 the future client will see the benefit from the designer’s exploration.
In the past, Google has encouraged its employees to dedicate a portion of their work schedule to take on passion projects. No restrictions were 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.
Here are a few examples.