Tag Archives: thoughts on creativity

Incomplete Manifesto for Growth–Bruce Mau Design

You know how the internet can be…one minute you're looking at pictures of cats and the next one you're reading the Incomplete Manifesto for Growth from Bruce Mau Design and you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, stopping to ponder the veracity of "Creativity is not device-dependent" and generally thinking this is an incomplete manifesto. (How could you limit it?) This then is what they had to say:

  1. Allow events to change you. 
    You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens
    to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness
    to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  2. Forget about good. 
    Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not
    necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may
    not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real
  3. Process
    is more important than outcome.
    When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already
    been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will
    know we want to be there.
  4. Love your experiments (as you
    would an ugly child). 
    Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit
    the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations,
    attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of
    failure every day.
  5. Go deep. 
    The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
  6. Capture
    The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect
    wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
  7. Study. 
    A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to
    study. Everyone will benefit.
  8. Drift. 
    Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment.
    Postpone criticism.
  9. Begin
    John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of
    paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
  10. Everyone
    is a leader.
    Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it
    makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  11. Harvest
    Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain
    life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a
    high ratio of ideas to applications.
  12. Keep
    The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it.
    Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  13. Slow
    Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may
    present themselves.
  14. Don’t be
    Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this
  15. Ask
    stupid questions.
    Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question.
    Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
  16. Collaborate. 
    The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction,
    strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
  17. ____________________. 
    Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and
    for the ideas of others.
  18. Stay up
    Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too
    hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  19. Work the
    Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is
    apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  20. Be
    careful to take risks.
    Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow.
    The work you produce today will create your future.
  21. Repeat
    If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
  22. Make your
    own tools.
    Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that
    are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools
    amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  23. Stand on
    someone’s shoulders.
    You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before
    you. And the view is so much better.
  24. Avoid
    The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  25. Don’t
    clean your desk.
    You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  26. Don’t
    enter awards competitions.
    Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  27. Read only
    left-hand pages.
    Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave
    room for what he called our "noodle."
  28. Make new
    Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The
    thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new
  29. Think
    with your mind.
    Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
  30. Organization
    = Liberty.
    Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context
    is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for
    instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on
    budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits"
    is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
  31. Don’t
    borrow money.
    Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain
    creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard
    it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  32. Listen
    Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more
    strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the
    details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their
    world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  33. Take
    field trips.
    The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the
    Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered,
    object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
  34. Make
    mistakes faster.
    This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
  35. Imitate. 
    Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the
    way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to
    Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how
    rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
  36. Scat. 
    When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not
  37. Break it,
    stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
  38. Explore
    the other edge.
    Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack.
    We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using
    old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with
  39. Coffee
    breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
    Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial
    spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist
    once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a
    conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual
    conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing
  40. Avoid
    Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to
    control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to
    order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump
    the fences and cross the fields.
  41. Laugh. 
    People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve
    become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are
    expressing ourselves.
  42. Remember. 
    Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is
    merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never
    perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or
    event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present.
    It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source,
    and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
  43. Power to
    the people.
    Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We
    can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

Our hats are off to Bruce Mau Design for these terrific thoughts on creativity!