Rediscovering creativity. Are we losing it?

I recently attended a design conference that featured leaders from the Melbourne design community tackling the theme “Rediscovering Creativity”.

The theme itself – Rediscovering Creativity, implies that there’s a problem; have we lost our creativity? The consensus seems to be – yes, we are losing creativity. The threat is real.

This could be for a few reasons: Technology, Trends, and Timing.

  • Technology – As technology progresses it is supposed to make our jobs easier, right? But what also seems to be happening is that with all the optimisations (and the introduction of AI), the expectation is that we can deliver on projects more efficiently than before. Essentially it puts more pressure on us to deliver in less time, and less time to think and create in playful and innovative ways.
  • Trends – Minimalism is to blame. There, I said it. This trend has taken the weird and wacky out of design. This also means it’s taken some of the ‘play’ out of our design process. Let’s say the client wants a ‘minimal’ solution, it often doesn't give us room to explore a heap of fun ideas in the initial concept stage. Luckily we are starting to see the trends shift the other way. Ideas-based creativity will always provide clients with work that will cut through the noise.
  • Timing – We’re still experiencing the post-pandemic fallout and while WFH has many perks, there is a catch. The cost is that it has become more challenging for us to collaborate, workshop, and brainstorm. There is no comparison to being in the same room with a group of people and feeding off their energy for some rapid-fire ideation. We gain energy and inspiration, acquire new knowledge, and rejuvenate our conversations by mingling with our peers.

Okay, it’s time to start talking about solutions.

One idea that came up throughout the day was “We need to fight for the space to be creative and play”.

How and why does this matter?

Let’s say a client only wants two concepts to choose from. That’s pretty tight, right? Both concepts have to nail the brief and we may fall back on what we know is safe. But what if we asked for the time to explore a third concept – something completely “outside of the box”?

Who knows what ideas might bubble to the surface? And if this third idea is a little too extreme for the client? Maybe an aspect of it can be incorporated into one of the other concepts to create something truly unique. The true value of designers is to find the value that others can’t necessarily see, create work that delights and in turn, connects authentically with audiences.

This approach should be a part of our process and ingrained in our culture – “Try something new and different”. Agencies industry-wide should be encouraging this. For me personally, this part of the process is why I love design – playing to find the solution. It’s the most exciting part. It's the fun part and it’s worth fighting for because ultimately it leads to better ideas.

Let’s play more, get a little weird sometimes and create work that is unique and memorable.

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Rediscovering Creativity Conference held by Design Outlook 2023 at the Edge, Federation Square, May 11, 2023