Play is the highest form of research

“Play is the highest form of research”

 – Albert Einstein

Design Talks opened the Design March festival in Reykjavik, which is an annual design event bringing together creators from different sectors and industries. This year the theme of the conference was “play away,” and along with my collaborators I had the chance to participate. The speakers were experienced international creators who shared with the audience their creative processes and their work of play. The talks that were the most interesting were by Jessica Walsh, Marti Guixe and Julien de Smedt.

Jessica Walsh is an inspiring young graphic designer, art director and a co-owner of a New York based design company. She works on a variety of different projects including advertising campaigns, posters, brandings and website design. Her work is quite distinctive compared with the industry. Although working for clients is a large part of her work, Walsh highlighted that personal projects are also very important part of her creative process.

Another speaker, Marti Guixe, showed the audience alternative approach towards food. Instead of thinking of food as nourishing substance, Guixe thought of food as a creative structure, contradicting traditional thinking.

Julien de Smedt is an award winning architect. The projects that he had presented were out of the ordinary and “inspired from the future”. He calls his work performative architecture. Through his projects he solves customers’ needs but also makes a connection to the design itself as a form of performance.

Despite the fact that these speakers came from different industry sectors, they share an appreciation and respect for the flow state of creativity. They are not afraid to play and think differently. They are creators who come up with groundbreaking ideas through experimenting, discoveries, mistakes and failures. The important lesson is not to get lost in your area of work. Exploring new trends, processes and ideas can benefit your work of play.

Karolina Rozmus, writing from Reykjavik, Iceland.

Doing nothing?

A recent Harvard Business Review article discusses 4 basic classes of business models: asset building, service provision, technology creation and network orchestration. The last of these is increasingly seen and is represented by such businesses as Airbnb and Uber. What these businesses do is orchestrate networks of people, but they don’t actually produce anything themselves. They might even be said to do nothing. But according to the Harvard Business Review article they actually perform better than companies based on one of the other business models. Worth thinking about.

Reference: Libert, Wind and Fenley (2014) What Airbnb, Uber, and Alibaba Have in Common. Harvard Business Review.