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.