How do creative professionals who are paid to think outside the box express themselves? At Corey & Co., the Watertown, Massachusetts design firm responsible for the Nickelodeon logo, they do it inside the box - a shallow, glass-topped, wooden box, to be exact.
Three years ago, founder Tom Corey, 45, resuscitated the quaint craft of shadow-box making and turned it into a company ritual. The rules are simple: Don't go outside the box, and don't put anything living inside the box. But the object is ambitious: to provide a hands-on tutorial in Corey & Co.'s organizational culture. "Our basic operating principle," says Corey, "is to define broad goals, supply a little structure, and then give people the freedom to do creative work."
With the shadow boxes, that principle has produced wildly diverse visions. Among the completed boxes: a vivid frightscape, complete with a crank for animating dancing-devil cutouts; a meditation on "what it could have been," featuring a loose marble and a list of design possibilities; and Corey's own taxonomy of "bad seeds."
"We started out to make art and to have some fun," says Corey. "In the process, we've created a rich visual heritage."
For more information, email Tom Corey firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the Web http://www.corey.com .
A version of this article appeared in the August 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.