Design Studio


Un.Expected Conversations : Demystifying Making

When Mayor Lisa Helps visited our studio a few months ago, we did not know what to expect. We cleaned, prepared what we would say to her and ask her, cleaned some more, and sweated a lot over the experience in general. Mayor Lisa showed up with a smile on her face and excitement in her voice; it was only moments in to our tour that we realized all of the cleaning, preparing and sweating (well, maybe not the cleaning) had all been for naught: this was not your average networking encounter. Our conversation proceeded comfortably and with increasing excitement as we showed her the studio and talked about our inspirations, innovations and ideas, and she shared in our enthusiasm with some visions of her own.

We learned that we share the common goal of inspiring our neighbours and communities to interact in unexpected ways, and thus the first Un.Expected Conversation was conceived. Un.Expected Conversations are a venue for people who may otherwise never interact to ask each other important questions about local business practices, innovation, and how we can collaborate in order to cooperatively achieve our goals.

The topic of this conversation was Making in the 21st Century; specifically what challenges people who make things in the modern economy. Featured on the panel were Melodie Reynolds, founder of Elate Clean Cosmetics, Marc DeMontigny, a local permaculture designer and maker extraordinaire, and our very own Andrew Azzopardi. We discussed the challenges of making in the modern day, the realities of innovating, and how to give Victoria the “kick in the ass” it so sorely needs. Follow the link to check out the video: Un.Expected Conversations

This conversation left me thinking about the intersection between creativity and business. Modern companies, from the small-scale local artisan to the mega-multinationals are now waking up to the idea of the value of creative thinking, following in the footsteps of innovative pioneers, Google. However, our education system does not reflect this shift in the business community. In my exploration I came across this great interview with Sir Ken Robinson, whose name you may recognize from several books and TED talks on the subject of creativity in education.

Robinson makes the observation that the term “creativity” comes with a certain amount of baggage. We associate creativity with the arts, and while the arts are creative, they are not the end (or even indeed the beginning) of the creative process, and that even people who do not create “art” per se are still creative people. Creativity is a way of thinking, Robinson argues, and the more we can tap in to that creative, diversified way of thinking in day-to-day problem solving, the more successful and innovative ideas we will see in our communities. 

Robinson also places a strong emphasis on the importance of collaboration and co-operation in balance with individual creations. “Most original thinking comes through collaboration and through the stimulation of other people’s ideas […] we have to promote and teach collaborating and benefiting from diversity rather than promoting homogeneity.” Collaborating and sharing ideas isn’t just good practice for the creative sector, it leads to innovative and unique problem-solving strategies that can’t be replicated individually. Assembling a team that has diverse skill, education and cultural background is essential for any business hoping to truly embrace the constantly adapting and innovating problem solving necessary in the 21st century.

“Being creative is essential to us; it’s essential for our economy.” - Sir Ken Robinson.

For further reading check out Professor Youngme Moon at the Harvard Business School, and on twitter.

Special thanks and shout-outs to the many hands that helped make this event a success.

Stream of Consciousness for video/photos

Andrzej Kielbowicz for even more photos!

Minh Ngo at The Visual Scribe for her lovely visual mindmap

Phillips Brewery for refreshments

Lisa Helps and her Helpers for setup, chairs and hype!

Sarah McFadzenComment