Creativity doesn’t just “happen” – and it doesn’t happen alone.
Here’s the thing: we’re directly involved in pulling off upwards of 300 events each year, and every one of them needs to be as spectacular and creative as the last. Do we love that challenge? Absolutely. Is it easy? Not even a little bit – but we’re on-board with the adage that nothing worth doing ever is.
From dream to design to creation, the process of creativity has some major steps to nail and various tips and tricks to consider, but there’s one overarching mantra that we never stop repeating: collaboration. Here’s how we get together to get creative.
First things first: know your end game
Before you start offering solutions, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish, and that means that the first chance to collaborate is with our client. The more we can understand about the objectives for the event, the guests who will be attending, and any parameters we might be working within, the better we can creatively achieve something special together.
This means getting involved as early as possible, and asking a lot of questions.
Questions? What kinds of questions?
We’re glad you asked. Here are just a few of the things we like to know when getting started:
- What are the goals and objectives for the event? What message does the client want the event to convey?
- Who are the event guests? How will they interact during the event, and what do they care about while there?
- How do we want guests to feel while at the event, how do we want them to move through the space, and what do we want them to take away from the experience?
- What types of existing parameters do we need to be creative within? This might include brand guidelines or a predetermined event concept.
The start of any project is really a conversation, and in this step, we’re there to listen.
Creativity is not a free-for-all, and design is subjective
A key part of our creative process is actually understanding where we can be creative, and where we can’t.
Everything from the client’s brand to the guests’ expectations to the venue itself will start to narrow and define the opportunities for creativity.
Ultimately, design is subjective and everyone has different tastes. Feathers and crystals might not be your jam, but they may be the right choice for an event where the client and guests expect that approach. Our role is not to create a design based on what we think is cool – or what’s currently trending on Pinterest – but to understand what is right for the event and the audience, and in-line with our client’s expectations and goals. The space between parameters and expectations is where we can push the boundaries. Sometimes this space may appear small, but if you approach the challenge with the right attitude, there is always room to do something creative.
It takes a village
Simply put, none of us works alone or is solely responsible for our collective creative output. Each event is dreamed, designed, and pulled off through the collaborative efforts of our team. Knowing the strengths of each individual definitely plays a role in who takes the lead on any given project, but we come together as a collective mind often. Sometimes that means booking a set time where we zero in on a project; sometimes collaboration happens organically as we go about our day. Our open-concept workspace means that we don’t need to set structured meetings to get input from our colleagues, and this often allows for instant, unforced creativity. We can be working independently in our shared space when someone throws out a question like, “How can I make a Canadian centrepiece without using nature?” A peppering of ideas will come from around the room, without breaking from our individual tasks or setting a formal meeting.
Each project is different, and the creative process is dynamic and fluid, but it’s always done together.
There’s no such thing as oversharing
Collaboration doesn’t just mean getting together to focus specifically on a current project. As a team, we make a point of constantly sharing random ideas, late-night thoughts, and off-guard moments of inspiration. This might be sharing a Facebook post, sending around a snap taken on a weekend adventure or vacation, or discussing at length the incredible set design on our latest Netflix obsession. The point is that inspiration is everywhere, and we share it – all of it, all of the time. We like to think of this as building a collective creative database; it might not happen right away, but at some point down the road, that random share could be the seed for the perfect idea.
Getting the best of the blank page
Even the most creative brain in the world has to start somewhere – here are a few simple ways we get creative together when the pressure is on:
- Mindmapping: Start with a keyword or idea (the event theme, for example), and branch off on different tangents from there, writing down any and all words and thoughts that come to mind. For example, if you start with “Gatsby,” your tangents may become art deco, over-the-top party, prohibition, speakeasy, champagne… and on it goes.
- Creative Googling: Use your mindmap to creatively search for other words or directions that also relate to the concept, but are not the concept itself. In the Gatsby example above, that might mean searching art deco furniture.
- Reverse-Pinteresting: Turn this social media platform on its head by using it to see what’s been done, and how that can inspire you to go a new way. For example, type “Gatsby” and take a look at what shows up and perhaps what’s overdone – then consider how you can steer your mind in another direction.
- Reinventing what you own: We never want to create the same design twice, and that means we constantly play around with how to reinvent our inventory to maximize both value and creativity for our clients. To that end, we’ve made in a group activity to choose an inventory item and challenge ourselves to think of new ways to use it – a fun game that creates ideas for future. We’ve stacked sofas on top of one another, effectively turning lounge furniture into décor… it’s all about looking at things differently.
- Leveraging partners: We don’t just collaborate with our clients or internally – we also know when to look outward. Having a broad awareness of what’s available through our vendors and partners means that we can dream up and bring together new and interesting combinations, for maximum impact.
Keeping the spark alive
After hundreds (or thousands!) of events, we can honestly say that we still feel the anticipation as we embark on every new project. Keeping that creative flame lit takes time, attention, and a willingness to explore – here are just a few ways we keep the love alive:
- Debrief: We make it a point to consider what we wish we could have also done, or done differently, at the completion of a project. Every event can teach you something.
- Dream big, every time: We can’t always (or ever?!) fit every big idea we had for a project into the budget, but we always start big. If you let yourself ‘go there’ before reining in, you’ll have those pieces to build off of for the next project.
- Stay engaged: Keeping up with industry trends, attending events that aren’t our own, and keeping up with what vendors are doing and how we can collaborate keeps on our creative toes.
- Get disruptive: When things feel stagnant or overdone, looking for ways to disrupt our creative process or even creating our own challenges can shake things up, and result in something new.
We’re always up for hearing what you do to challenge your creativity, or encourage collaboration in your organization and industry. And if all of this sparked questions or maybe even ideas, get in touch – we’d love to collaborate with you.