Design and business in the ‘We™ Generation’

Jan Van Mol

In the beginning...

It was the Belgian Furniture Association ‘Febelhout’ that invited me for an informal chat about designing furniture for a global and universal market. Times are tough for some Belgian companies. These days, furniture is imported from all over the world. Places where salaries are lower, such as Eastern Europe and China, are developing into major players in the mass-produced furniture market, while Italy retains its position as leader of design-based furniture.

Having gained the support of the Flemish government, Febelhout started up Optimo, a division aiming to bring young creative furniture designers and manufacturers together. The process has been going on for several years now, with some collaborative efforts having produced designs that are both inventive and commercial. Aside from those successful partnerships, many furniture companies are still searching for products with an edge. They are conscious that their future security relies on developing products that have more than a passing design value.

Looking for creative ways for such companies to avoid ideas-droughts, Optimo asked Addict Creative Lab to come up with a model to help manufacturers produce better designs that would also survive in a competitive marketplace. Optimo also proposed to set up a project with five companies for the purpose of developing prototypes. I refused to provide ready-made solutions, but wanted to implement Addict’s methodology to generate increased self-awareness and a more accurate perception of positioning in the market.

Ad!dict Creative Lab generates ideas on a global scale. Visualised by a look-alike Mendeleyev Table (that is, the Table of the Periodic Chemical Elements, for non-scientifically minded people), the structure of Addict is an international network of creative people, brought together in a multi-disciplined database as well as on the Addictlab website. Working with crossover techniques and a creative-objective approach, Addict has assembled a large source of creatives, having accumulated more than 4,000 lab members.

Addict is not meant to be an exclusive source of inspiration; it aims to serve all kinds of creative processes. Self-developed packages such as ‘inspiration showers’, ‘creative sparring’ programmes, and the Creative X-Raysare all formulas based on creative resources and continuous trend analyses.

Depending on the nature of the project or the needs of the client, Addict assembles a team from its database, comprised of people we judge as being able to generate the best ideas. Our concept of ‘creativity is chemistry’ reveals how the organisation aims to be a place where bright ideas are bounced across a global network. Working this way is a completely new approach to creation in many long-standing companies, which are likely to repeat the same working patterns as past generations.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

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