The value of the unexpected

The mechanics of the design process are often set out as diagrams – templates offering a route to creativity. They’re useful in explaining how things work. But they miss out one crucial thing – the bit where the magic is. The unexpected.

Learning to be open, to let things go wrong in the service of making them better, to choose the idea that doesn’t answer the brief but answers the need… Schooled in right answers, these are profoundly uncomfortable things that we have to get to grips with as we learn how to be creative professionals.

I was reminded of that when I signed up for Cordwainers Natural Dye Studio’s advanced eco printing class. I had some knowledge. But I was also perfectly happy to have no idea what I was doing. And in that, I found experimentation, discovery and joy. Along the way, I learned things about colour behaviour, chemistry and materials science.

Playtime, yes. But in the creative industry, retaining our ability to play is at the very heart of our value.

A big thank you to Cristina at The Trampery on the Gantry for the survey prize that enabled me to book this class with a local social enterprise and to Debbie at CNDS for coping so well with a ridiculously enthusiastic student.