Milton Glaser created the I <3 NY in the late 70s as part of an ad campaign to pick up New Yorkers who were in the middle of rough economic times, and promote tourism to the city. While watching the documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight, Glaser spoke about how things just come together. And, how it comes down working with great people to create something that is remembered.
Soon after I watched the Glaser film, I came across The Pixar Story. As I watched the film, I was reminded of what Glaser had touched on - how some things kind of just happen. The Pixar Story further articulated this by talking about how it did not matter what members of the group had their background in, or their formal training. What mattered is how well they worked together. How well they congealed into this cohesive mass that were able to articulate a common goal.
This is a really important point that these ‘creative types’ are making. One is that you can essentially kill what is being worked on by over working it, or over designing it. Great thoughts are like trying to capture lightening. When executed, great ideas allow for more great ideas, meaning that it is not over stifling. If when people are making things happen, whether they be organizational or the physical act of making objects, how can such endeavors be successful if they do not embody enough flexibility and the awareness that change is inevitable.
This seems like the beginning place for design and seems to boil down to simple awareness. To be aware is paramount to good design. It is looking at the taken-for-granted world that is many times hidden, maintaining a questioning attitude, pooling experience to tailor what is produced around need, and allowing for the unknown. In fact, it might have a lot to do with taping the unknown. When looking for solutions one has to use a different perspective than that which created to problem. And, the unknown has a lot to do with informing such new perspectives.
The second point that these films touch on is the importance of the people you work with. There is no doubt in my mind that humans are a social creature. With all of our complex social structures based off of written and spoken language, to neglect the social element of people is to violate the guiding motto of developing awareness.
People encompass much more than what is generally assumed. When I am asked what it is that I do, I consistently find myself grasping for a quick concise way to articulate what exactly I am. And, I fail every time. The reason I fail is straight forward. I simply am not so easily explained. I am not to be reduced to an economic input. I am more that a single identity to be defined in various social discourses. That inherent diversity is what aids certain groups of people to tap into past experiential knowledge, contributing to the goals of the group. Every time you partake in a conversation with another person, you open potential through the unknown, creating dialogue in which something greater than the individual is formed.
So, looseness and who you hang out with is important. Is that what is to be learned from such established and successful people as Glaser and the Pixar crew? I think it is a big part of it. It does not negate the need for cohesion, strong vision, and well thought out, well planned, organizational structure. But, with out the life - if you will - then there is no ability to create.