Design Matters | Finding Creativity in the Unexpected

 Peter Bil'ak        CreativeMornings Logo

There is no denying that the significance of design is largely underrated. Given its abstract yet unobtrusive nature, its complexities are known only to those who care to discern them. For the most part, design maintains such a discreet presence in our everyday lives that we often take for it granted. Nevertheless, design need not be spectacular to be any more important.

At the 18th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (27 September 2013), graphic designer and editor-in-chief Peter Bil’ak expressed his overwhelming fascination with design and the endless possibilities thereof. His magazine Works That Work explores global instances of unexpected creativity and their impact on society. What began as an inspiring publication entirely devoted to the curious mind has surprisingly evolved into a remarkable project of its own, reflecting the rapid developments in design, new technologies and mass media.

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Indie BRANDS x phillipqgangan: bobble

TWO-O Sunglasses

When it comes to making consumer choices, human beings err on the side of emotion. Rather than selecting the most rational option, customers are easily enticed by the allure of gimmickry, novelty or convenience, perpetuating the rise of a throwaway society. Be that as it may, the same tricks of the trade are increasingly being used for the greater good, encouraging consumers to make better choices. At the forefront of this campaign is bobble.

Advocating the merits of smart, purposeful design, New York City-based company, Move Collective launched bobble in 2010. Their aim was to rectify people’s drinking habits by developing a reusable, filtered water bottle in lieu of the single-serve version. Available in a wide-range of colours and styles, bobble has emerged as a trendy, lifestyle accessory that doubles as an initiative to reduce plastic waste. Each innovatively designed, portable filter replaces the equivalent of 300 disposable bottles, propelling more and more people to source their water from the tap.

In working towards a sustainable future, bobble is the first of many visionary products that the company hopes to conceive. Practical as it may be, the brand is a stylish proponent of what should be considered the norm. Best leave it to good design to bring back common sense. ✌

bobble | Filter in Style

☞ Indie BRANDS x phillipqgangan, features profiles and interviews on up-and-coming independent brands on the Indie BRANDS blog.

For more information on bobble, Indie BRANDS and other brands featured in the Indie BRANDS blog, visit the websites below:


Indie BRANDS and the Indie BRANDS Blog

Restless Revolutionaries | The Rise of Indie Brands

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In times of economic uncertainty, waning consumer confidence and widespread unemployment, starting a business seems ludicrous at best. Yet, for an increasing number of ambitious entrepreneurs, there is no better time to set-up shop than when the odds are stacked against them. While well-established businesses are tightening their belts and shying away from unnecessary risks, independent brands the world over are rolling up their sleeves and taking chances, creating opportunities and doing their own thing.

At the 17th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (30 August 2013), author, editor and curator (just to name a few) Anneloes van Gaalen championed the heroic efforts of these entrepreneurial underdogs and how they are revolutionizing the way we do business. Her recent publication, Indie Brands (BIS Publishers) delves into the world of independent brands –from biodegradable shoes and slavery-free chocolate to minimalist mobile phones– and what makes them tick, their must-have products and the inspiring minds behind them. Far from glorifying their exploits, Van Gaalen reveals the overwhelming challenges that these brands face in running their own business.

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All in the Mind | Expanding Our Creative Capacities

 Sabine van Linden, Ph.D. | Photo Courtesy of: Universiteit van Amsterdam        CreativeMornings Logo

Society decrees that there are two types of thinkers in this world: the analytical and the creative. At a very early age, we were led to believe that we are either one or the other, instructed to base our most important life decisions on this outcome alone. In truth, we as human beings are born with the innate capacity for both. Still, it appears that some people in particular are more creative than others, able to quickly generate innovative ideas and think outside the box. Be that as it may, creativity does not depend on the type of brain we have. It is simply a matter of how we use it.

At the 16th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht, neuropsychologist Sabine van Linden (Ph.D.) shed some light on the intricacies of the creative mind and how it can be improved. As clinical psychology lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, she is deeply fascinated by the inner workings of the brain, delivering lectures and workshops on this three-pound gem through her organization Talks to Mind. As the power of creativity is a valued human resource that often remains untapped, using the brain more efficiently can unleash its full potential.

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Eating With Our Eyes | The Art of Culinary Illustration

Janneke Hoeben         CreativeMornings Logo

Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places. More often than not, it is a product of aesthetic experience or, in other words, being moved – moments where we are truly open and genuinely present in the here and now. Indeed, the accumulation of a lifetime of these experiences compels us to find inspiration in all things and, more importantly, to create something out of it.

At the 15th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (28 June 2013), culistrator (culinary illustrator) Janneke Hoeben drew an unconventional link between food and fashion, proving that design can also be delicious. As fashion designer-turned-culistrator and founder of kitchen textile label Commis de Cuisine, this all-round creative serves as artistic intermediary between the best of both worlds. Combining her love for fashion and illustration with all things culinary, she firmly believes that culistration is where food and fashion meet.

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Problem-Paper-Scissors | (Re) Designing a More User-friendly Web

Marrije Schaake         CreativeMornings Logo

The irony of the World Wide Web lies in its complexity. On the one hand, the innovation has radically altered the world as we know it, facilitating greater access to information and bringing us closer together on an unimaginable scale. On the other hand, we are needlessly forced to adapt to its rapid advancements, having to relearn operational skills with every new development. While the Internet serves as a tool to make our lives “better”, it has certainly made things more complicated.

As a matter of fact, it is not only the end-user that must constantly readjust to the modern world but even more so businesses and organizations. Given that a corporate website is already difficult to maintain, the advent of mobile technology has generated a plethora of communication platforms including apps, mobile versions of websites and social media. Since the tendency for most organizations (in particular multinationals, government agencies and public services) is to provide as much information as possible to the general public, content –be it online or mobile– becomes a double-edged sword: easily accessible yet thoroughly complex.

At the 14th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (31 May 2013), information architect Marrije Schaake is convinced that the best way to move forward is to take one step back. As co-owner of user experience design agency eend, she and her team are on a quest to (re)design a more user-friendly web and the by-products thereof. Equally important to the end result is the creative process itself, whereby problem solving is accomplished through the most basic of means.

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Indie BRANDS Event | Funding, Trends and Authenticity

Independent brands meant business at Pakhuis de Zwijger*, Amsterdam during the 4th edition of the Indie Brands Event (30 May 2013). Traditionally a night of inspiring talks and panel discussions on all things indie, the evening’s festivities took on a more serious tone, turning its attention towards the business side of brands. While much of the previous discussions centered on products and branding, practical themes such as access to funding, rising trends and the preservation of authenticity were thoroughly explored during the course of the event.

 Playing to the Crowd

Due to their inherent nature, indie brands are quite adept in finding creative ways to start a business. At a time when capital is proving difficult to come by, these savvy entrepreneurs have turned to alternative methods of funding, oftentimes directly soliciting the customers themselves. As a matter of fact, the social phenomenon of crowdfunding has been responsible for the viability of hundreds of start-ups, innovations and even creative projects such as books and films over the last few years. Nevertheless, the potential gains from this platform should never be overestimated.

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Indie BRANDS | Funding, Trends & Authenticity

On 30 May 2013, Indie BRANDS presents the 4th edition of the Indie BRANDS Event at Pakhuis de Zwijger*, Amsterdam. Featuring a night of captivating talks, independent brands and their must-have products, the evening’s festivities centers on matters concerning funding, trends and authenticity.

While financial volatility has rigidly defined the global economy, independent brands —from bamboo-frame bicycles to consumer-distributed magazines and “future-friendly” accessories— have consistently defied the odds by developing innovative, socially-oriented business models through the use of alternative funding. Due in part to their remarkable success, these brands are being largely imitated (never duplicated) by big business, sparking a contentious debate on authenticity. In effect, Indie Brands proudly brings to the stage the true originators of the independent movement to discuss au courant trends and what exactly makes a brand truly indie. ✌


Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam
Tickets:10 Euros


☞ For more information on Indie BRANDS, Anneloes van Gaalen and the 4th Indie BRANDS Event, visit the websites below:

Indie BRANDSAnneloes van Gaalen and the 4th Indie BRANDS Event

Follow Indie BRANDS, Anneloes van Gaalen and phillipqgangan on Twitter: @IndieBrands@Anneloesvgaalen and @phillipqgangan

Indie BRANDS x phillipqgangan

Penny for Your Thoughts | The Art of Turning Art Into Money

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Money is a figment of our imagination. Strictly speaking, it serves merely as a medium of exchange to facilitate our everyday transactions. Bearing no intrinsic value nor bound by any tangible assets (such as gold), money need not take physical form in order to exist. It endures purely as information and in turn, governs almost every facet of our daily lives because of the meaning we give it. Consequently, money –or rather, the love of money– is considered to be the root of all evil. If that were the case, what then, could be the root of all money?

At the 11th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (22 February 2013), Dutch artist Dadara (Daniel Rozenberg) summed-up his response in a single word: love. As founder and CEO of the Exchanghibition Bank, Dadara has engrossed himself entirely in monetary affairs and is now in the business of turning art into money. By designing and printing one-of-a-kind banknotes of exuberant denominations (millions, billions or zero) and inviting people to exchange them for legal tender at his pop-up bank, the artist-turned-banker is challenging the original construct of money, exploring alternative options in its place. Fascinated by the arbitrary precedence that money has been given by society, Dadara has become expertly obsessed with its inner workings.

“The whole project started from an art perspective,” the CEO said during the morning’s post-lecture interview. “I’ve always been an artist my whole life and I always created things because I felt I had to do it. It’s like total intrinsic motivation. And then, at a certain age you start realizing that the world works in a different way because people don’t do things because they want to do them, but because they earn money. I always compare the world to a giant playground with a parking meter.” Frustrated by this “pay-as-you-play” reality, Dadara was initially anti-money, paying no mind to its worldly significance.

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Indie BRANDS Event | Creativity, Competition and Entrepreneurship

It was standing room only at Pakhuis de Zwijger*, Amsterdam during the 3rd edition of the Indie Brands Event (22 February 2013). In celebration of its 1-year anniversary, Indie Brands –a book written by Dutch author Anneloes van Gaalen, featuring 30 independent brands and their inspiring narratives– convened yet another night of fascinating talks, interviews and panel discussions, putting a spotlight on creative entrepreneurship, branding and competition. Despite the event’s predetermined theme, the evening’s conversations centered on a much larger issue: the truth.

“Indie brands are the frontrunners of truth,” declared John Weich, creative director of Monumental Propaganda. The writer and storyteller is convinced that communication is essential to independent brands, enabling them to enhance their products by conveying what is true. “There are two things you can do when starting an indie brand,” he said. “Find the truth and tell it. Or create a myth and sell it.” Though compelling stories have a way of captivating audiences, revealing the entire truth may not be in a brand’s best interest, particularly during the early stages of development. The strategic alternative is truth with a slant.

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