Tag Archives: change

London Design and Anti Design Festivals 2010…

LDF at V&A

Last Friday I had a chance to visit London Design Festival and after last year’s good timing and awesome events my expectations were rather high. And truthfully, this time was different: horrible weather, bad ankle resulting in limping, and not many great inspirational moments.

I don’t wish to go on about everything I saw, but to pick out some of the memorable bits (you can also check more photos on my Flickr page):

A dark room with cabinets displaying objects, all pure white. Next to the cabinets, stories related to the objects building a saga of a fictional mixed background family. (I Cling to Virtue at V&A)

Miniature design doll house, magical, it can hold your gaze for hours.

The printed guide had no maps! You can stuff pages with advertising but not bother with a map. Pffft.

Stumbling through a door way into Anti Design Festival headquarters, and managing to get a free ticket to the afternoon talk Renewal & Strategy to Destroy and Rebuild featuring designer celebrities and their pals and some interesting artists.

“There’s  no such thing as grown ups, we’re just winging it because we have to.”
– Gerald Laing

Adrian Shaugnessy getting excited about magical Wales and praising young designers’ will to do social design projects instead of clamoring to be the next Neville Brody…

Shaugnessy’s realistic insights – we all need to make a living but it’s not an excuse to do something different either.

Peter Kennard’s vivid reminders of the simple power of image. His Cafe of Equivalents is a truly inspiring project: it made people rethink the value of money and the value of their earnings, and provided a space for discussion. A project worth looking up.

“The middle is not a great place to be” – Stuart Semple on the danger of the homogeneous middle

Barnbrook’s shifty nature not being allowed to talk about his work – felt like he was talking to students – again.

Brody being ripped into with criticism about “all talk no action plan” by a gentleman, watching Brody slither around responses.

Anti Design Festival space showing work by maestros and students alike, side by side on the walls without captions – interesting.

Hel Yes! Design and food from Helsinki

Hel Yes! warehouse converted into a hangout/ café/ restaurant/ discussion space, Finnish brunch to warm my soul, free coffee, use of wood branches to create tables connecting us back into nature.

Ok Do! talk Borderlands highlighting increased collaboration with co-creators and resource providers. “Friendship as an important catalyst for collaboration” – still resonates strongly within me, like a warm fuzzy feeling that tells me there is truth in those words.

Spotting parallels and common themes that have been popping up in recent workshops and events I have attended:

  • the need to embrace and explore collaboration and co-creation
  • engaging with society and the citizens living in it – inclusive design
  • the title “designer” losing its gravity and significance: we fall under different roles more and more
  • embracing technology to create future possibilities for participation, freedom of speech, debate, co-creation and strengthening networks for knowledge sharing

That’s it folks, tried to keep this short and hopefully shared some interesting observations. Please do share comments and thoughts.

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Creating space for a creative headspace

After a nice break that included no presents, rushing or spending much money, I have been getting back in gear by reading some of my favourite blogs. And I feel particularly warm and fuzzy in my heart as I see the same ethos and sentiment carry through so many people’s minds: to establish better conditions to unleash creativity within themselves.

First lovely Lulu, a creative designer and facilitator beaming with positive attitude, expresses her desire for self-exploration and creation of artistic works:

I believe that by committing to spend some time educating myself about my Self, by using the act of creating to journey from question to understanding, that artistic voice within me will be unleashed. And that the most appropriate mediums of expression will naturally emerge.

Then Olivia, a creative writer and thinker, talks about creative space which she calls “Olivia’s Kitchen”:

This year is about creating conditions that will allow my work to emerge – and Olivia’s Kitchen conjures the image for me of that space. — It is my belief that we are often so focused on worrying about what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, that we actually neglect creating the space which would allow the answers to those questions to emerge naturally.

I also enjoyed reading an ebook about happiness, quality of life and work by Vehmas Assembly (available in Finnish only), in which the author Sampsa coins a nice phrase saying that we all need to “re-educate our inner monkeys”. With this he refers to our evolutionary survival instincts and the unfortunate hoarding and status craving instinct that drives many to a vicious cycle of overconsumption, overworking and unhappiness. I share the point he and many others have made: a process of kindness, love and self-awareness is needed. Channeling these things into everyday life and ways of looking at things will affect everything else, like a chain reaction. One becomes kinder to oneself and this transfers to relationships, work and quality of life.

I felt inspired by all these generous and heartfelt pieces of writing and thought I would simply share my process of creative space. It’s not finished yet and I hope it never will be as things change with the flow. And change and flow I know now to be important parts of my quality of life in general.

I have reorganised my working space at home over Christmas. I have a desk in the corner of our light and cozy living room. It is only when I got rid of lots of clutter that is not related to my creativity (if it’s related, then it’s not clutter), moved it facing the window and allocated a wall next to it for free notes and drawings that I actually feel in my bones I can finally embrace this spot as my own. I have my candle, space for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, a crazy plant, cat per week desk calendar, origami a day calendar, pot with lots of brushes and pens and sticks, a beautiful 50s book of British birds, a shelf with more books, different drawing papers and sketch books, woollen socks to combat drafty floors and the laptop, of course.

I hope you noticed that the laptop was last on the list.

I have now begun addressing the time space issue – to comfortably enjoy spending time here even after a long day at my full time job. Time space is for me really more about the whole sphere of an issue about creative headspace. It’s more about that freedom inside my head, a simultaneous lenience and vigorous drive towards exploring and expressing myself.

The good thing is that I have a perfect project starting up at the end of January, and this project will offer me a framework to help with creative time outside normal working hours. The project involves a workshops with many other great creative people: musicians, actors, filmmakers, writers and me as a storyboard artist. It’s a dream project – I’m going to be exploring storyboarding techniques and hopefully find an interesting way of showcasing the athmospheric moods and even sensuality of a scene. It’s work but it’s firstly more fun and personally rewarding exploration, happiness.

It’s a good start for 2010, a continuity of good things. I wish you all the same.

Inhale, exhale, improvise

You know those conversations, the enthusiastic rants you have with interesting people, often performed over a few drinks in a pub? And the following day, the slow dawn of realisation that you have wholeheartedly agreed to take part in some project or another?

I love those conversations.

Great discussions are often initiated and accelerated by impulse and instinct. They can generate interesting creative collaborations that be simple short-lived sparks or long-lasting affairs. A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation that lead me to take part in an improvised music performance with the PAST collective as part of the May you Live in Interesting Times festival.

I used to sing a lot when I was younger, in indie bands and in plays as part of my theatre activities. Since coming to Britain I haven’t sung much and I had almost forgotten what singing really means to me and what it feels like. I came across a quote, on the Facebook page of the German Krautrockers Popol Vuh, which describes this feeling well:

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

The singing I did for the performance was the first time I used my voice as more of an instrument amongst others. Creating rhythms, simple melodies, whispers of breathing which were looped and layered into the fabric of sound we were improvising together. It was very liberating, the improvisation, and being able to embrace the individual processes of each of the rehearsal sessions we had.

To be able to improvise is to be able to welcome uncertainty and discomfort and allow them to open up new creative pathways. With singing this approach is physical, both raw and delicate at times. This tingling exploration is to be found in other creative pursuits too, but I think it takes more practice for me to find it and apply it to them. The environment has a big impact on this  – the often hectic surroundings do not offer me the almost meditative qualities needed for a fluid and experimental mindset. So next for me it’s about practicing achieving this mindset in everyday life and creative practice and letting it run its course.

Myth vs. fact

The title of this blog post refers to posters I saw at the Harlow Town Show in September. They were displayed at the local NHS stand and grabbed my attention straight away.

I thought this was such a good example of simple messaging and design. It stops people in their tracks – we all have people with mental health problems in our circle of friends and acquaintances even if we are not aware of this.

I have a personal stance in talking openly about mental health problems after witnessing too many occasions when they have been brushed under the carpet or they have cause feelings of shame, despair or even guilt in people close to me. My stance is strong also because there is really hardly any honest publicity about raising awareness of these issues. In social situations, it’s not “appropriate” to admit to one’s weaknesses, especially if those feelings of weakness are in one’s head. Mention therapy or the thought of getting help, things get awkward.

So here it goes: I have been to therapy to see a counselor on a regular basis. No, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown nor did I have a scary sounding mental condition that would make me feel like I couldn’t cope. There are so many states of anxiety and depression that get a grip on people these days – and is it really a surprise? Having had a fairly open-minded attitude towards getting help for mental health concerns, even I found it hard to cross that threshold to contact someone to get help.

And you know, counseling is great. I think everyone should get some at times just to get a fresh look at where it’s at. It’s easy to loose sight of things in your life, whatever they may be. It’s defeatist to deny the need for an objective outside opinion, which you can’t always get from your family or friends.

Openness – it is the key to many things. I wish it could be embraced better in public – after all, we are not machines but human beings with imperfections and faults which make us all the bit better for it. Say yes to that.

New beginnings

Hi there.

I’ve finally got myself around starting a blog and share my inner musings with others. I’m excited about the whole thing, not because of making my thoughts public in particular, but because I see blog writing as a means to express myself and refine my rants. I think it’s also a little therapeutic and healthy for me as a creative professional.

    So things to come include:

  • On chaos and balance, fear and positive change
  • Heart & Hearth – sharing, storytelling and focus
  • London Design Festival – inspiration & other thought patterns

I’ll be back soon – goodbye till then.