Good ideas can arrive (seemingly) in an instant or may emerge after a hard-fought battle between right brain, left brain, and reality. But even people who are blessed with a fertile imagination can benefit from a change of pace and approach to their work. Conditional Design is a new movement that hopes to nurture ingenuity by adding a bit of offbeat structure into the mix.
It’s fitting that the concept was born not in an office or studio but among friends chatting around a kitchen table. In 2008, artist Edo Paulus, along with Jonathan Puckey, Roel Wouters and Luna Maurer (known together as Amsterdam-based Studio Moniker), began considering ways to break free of the confines of their profession. They established exercises for themselves that often began with a big blank sheet of paper, some pens, and a few loose rules. They knotted, encircled circles, and “grew broccoli.” They had fun. They figured things out.
Eventually, the group composed a manifesto based on a holy trinity of Process, Logic, and Input. “Instead of operating under the terms of Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Media Art, or Sound Design, we want to introduce Conditional Design as a term that refers to our approach rather than our chosen media,” it reads. “We conduct our activities using the methods of philosophers, engineers, inventors and mystics.”
Their manifesto sounds a bit over the top, but their attempt to be break with conceptual constraints is an admirable one. The idea that expanding one’s perspective can help to harness the untapped but inherent power of innovation that each of us has within is, at its core, pretty authentic. It’s a bit of “Life is a journey, not a destination,” applied to the creative process.
Now, a new Conditional Design Workbook, from Netherlands-based publisher Valiz, puts those activities together in one place. And they see their market as absolutely everyone. “That might sound a bit naff,” Studio Moniker office manager Eve Dullaart tells Co.Design. “But it’s about focusing, exploring your own creativity, and working in a group, so we feel it might be interesting for families, colleagues, school kids, managers–anyone really.”
The tasks and instructions are simple. For example, it tells you to draw a filled-in circle in the center of the paper. Yet there’s flexibility built into the format, because you can use it as a straightforward guide or as a jumping-off point to explore your ideas. And maybe it’s not untrue that sketching a single line for an hour and a half straight can unlock some hidden part of your psyche.
(h/t It’s Nice That)