Hey, it’s Day #13: Collaborate!

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

In 2004, Fast Company published the results of a study on workplace creativity in an article entitled 6 Myths Of Creativity by Bill Breen. Number 5 on the list of Creative Myths was that competition fosters creativity. According to the report, the opposite was true. “In our surveys, we found that creativity takes a hit when people in a work group compete instead of collaborate. The most creative teams are those that have the confidence to share and debate ideas. But when people compete for recognition, they stop sharing information…..”

In my own work experience, both as a writer and as an interior designer, collaboration is one of the highlights of the creative process. Whether it is with colleagues, clients, vendors or artisans, I always find that working with others enhances the end product and makes the process more engaging.

One of the best examples of this is one of my final advertising projects before I transitioned to full-time interior design. The project was a TV and radio campaign for the American launch of Red Bull Energy Drink. I was given a set of spots from the European market with existing animation to use and a tag line (Red Bull gives you wings.) I went to work writing scripts to the animated spots that would play to an American audience and then auditioned improv actors from groups like Groundlings and Second City in Los Angeles, as well as some known stand-up comedians. Ultimately, we went into the studio with “safety” scripts, but gave the actors the freedom to stray from script and put their own improvisational spin on the spots. It was a wonderfully collaborative effort. Not only was the process fantastic; it yielded some of the best work I did in fifteen years as a writer.

As a designer, every day brings some sort of invigorating collaborative effort. I especially enjoy working with work rooms and craftsmen on custom furniture, lighting and draperies. I truly value the input I get from these artisans. Their ideas, attention to detail and constant desire to keep pushing the design beyond the obvious solutions are what make working with them such a pleasure.

Finally, I want to say that the ideal situation is when I have a client who wants to collaborate in the design process. After all, this is their story. It’s just my job to help them tell it. So I really love it when I get a client who comes with pictures, ideas, swatches, colors, opinions and feedback. “Bring it!” I say, “This is your story. Help me tell it.”

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