It is so easy to fall into well-worn grooves. They offer comfort and make life feel smoother and easier. But, I’ve learned something about myself. If things are too smooth it brings about creative laziness. My curiosity grinds to a halt when too much routine sets in. So, over the years, we’ve learned to give ourselves design challenges as a form of a creative booster shot.
They almost always follow the same pattern; short in duration (because we’re suckers for immediate satisfaction), creative (so we can flex our own design muscles) and crazy sounding (um, because that’s more fun?).
Our most recent challenge was a project we took on this past summer.
We found ourselves in need of creative, collaborative design space in Minneapolis and couldn’t find anything that was just right. So, we asked ourselves: How do you build out a studio that is fully functioning creative space knowing that you only need it for one month, have a budget of next to nothing, and no place to store furniture after the month is over.
There is something about all these constraints that forced us to get clear on the physical and experiential elements that needed to feel polished and those that could be rough. So, while seating could be mediocre, wall surfaces had to be stellar. While parking could be questionable, the location had to be perfect. If the kitchen was going to be nonexistent, catering had to be spectacular.
This project had no traditional business drivers. It wasn’t going to make money (we actually made a rule to reinvest everything we made back into the experience). We weren’t using it to market ourselves. Actually, on the contrary. I spent countless hours holed up in my garage building rolling whiteboards, putting casters on sofas, acquiring studio materials, and teaching my daughters how to use a circular saw… hours that could have been spent on business stuff.
Looking back on the summer, it was one of the best I can remember. The comfort of the well-worn groove I was starting to settle into was replaced with the excitement of feeling curious, creative and challenged. I really believe that the challenges we give ourselves teach us a lesson we needed to learn. The more we challenge ourselves, the more we learn.