Flushed with creativity and inspiration, I was having a drink with a fellow designer in a private, post-Indaba debriefing moment. My mind was struggling to define the very core of what Indaba is about. Having been a loyal disciple to the indaba since it first started; I wondered what it is that makes us flock year after year. Finally, I think I have cracked it, it is this: we are drawn to the collective creative energy of 6,000 people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures with one thing in common- the passion, enthusiasm and application of design with the added bonus that we all want to share, are eager to know more and are open and hungry for fresh ideas…
Afterwards I feel as inspired and revved-up as when I take in a Capital city such as Barcelona, Paris, London or New York… it is a jolt to the creative system but more than that, it is such a comfort to be surrounded by like-minded people. Who are all on the same wavelength, and ALL get it…
I spend my life with clients who just don’t get it at all. My hours poured over proposals, sketches and swatches draw blank faces; like displaying the raw ingredients of a soufflé- it is only when the soufflé comes out of the oven, perfectly formed that the penny drops- “so that’s what you were talking about!” People who are not creative have difficulty understanding design and the thinking behind it and because of that, it is easier to be dismissive about it. At Indaba, everybody – from the lowliest student graphic artist to the grandest innovative International super-guru really knows instinctively what I mean.
A commitment needs to be made to attend. A real commitment of time, necessary to focus properly on the speakers – filtering the not-so-great from the sublimely relevant. Popping in and out during a busy schedule doesn’t quite work. You need the consistency of exposure to that raw collective energy to derive the full benefit. You must sit through the boring talks, because after a boring one, you can be guaranteed to get that goose-pimple experience that flips your mind into a different dimension, a life changer.
For me the most profound thing I take away is the feeling of transportation from my world, into a world of possibilities, sometimes even tinged with a sense of failure, but mostly into a positive space, making me think of all the other areas in my career I haven’t yet focused on and the enormous opportunities that lie ahead.
Listening to what other designers have dreamed and believed in and how they have pushed the creative envelope to produce breathtaking products and projects that boggle the mind is awesome. Can one capture this feeling forever, store it and feed off it when the creative battery is a bit flat and low? I certainly think so.
Motivational speaker, Anthony Robins, always says: ‘remember the feeling’ i.e. that feeling when you are totally ecstatic or in a state of euphoria; focus on that feeling and remember it, go back to that feeling when you need a pick-me-up. It can be difficult to do, but it is worth a try.
Personally, I find smells work for me. I use them to evoke a memory and I have a selection of perfumes in the wardrobe that take me to special memories- a trip to Paris, a fun moment and a special friend… throughout the day I steal whiff’s of a certain perfume and go back to that happy space, it’s like little sparks of enthusiasm that offer bursts of real positivity.
We tend to think that “our world” is the only world, but by being exposed to other designers, I realize how everyone is busy creating and producing in their own worlds. Meeting other designers is reassuring and inspires me to keep trying, to not give up and to believe in myself. I will press on with what I believe in, whatever it takes; because if you don’t believe in yourself how can you expect anybody else to?