// BarryBlog //

A creative dumping ground for issues that interest me personally and professionally, with the thought they may interest you too. Issues such as the business of design, the design of business, the design of objects, design strategy, creative direction, innovation, creativity, thought leadership, observations, as well as recommendations, mid-century modern decorative arts and architecture, and the state of my thinking (and currently the state of my heart).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Neocon, Alvin Lustig, and a Design Realization

Neocon is just another furniture show to many. But to me, it's the Superbowl of design. Something I look forward to for months ahead of time. It's an experience that for me is way more valuable than any other design show in terms of charging my creative batteries. And for those who know me, being creative is not generally one of my deficit areas. But something's different about Neocon.

It inspires in a totally unique way. I see colors. Shapes. Materials. Applications. Human enthusiasm and possibility. Execution and good old fashion trade sales. Real ideas being pitched and sold for real money. Not just great ideas, but great ideas with legs. Ideas that are going places. Ideas with schedules and agendas. You get the idea. Rubber meets the road, if you will.

Anyway, in my weekly design group meeting today I spoke to the team about my enthusiasm and perspective regarding the show. I recently received approval from my supervisor to take the whole commercial design team to Neocon so they too can experience this magnificent event. Shortly after discussing this but in the same meeting designer Alvin Lustig came up, as I referenced having posted about him in an article in BarryBlog just the day before.
Out of both discussions came a vivid realization regarding the value of design.

As I thought of going to Neocon, I pictured myself back in time and walking the show with Alvin. As we walked together, his presence was felt everywhere. Why? Well, Alvin designed the timeless furniture in the Knoll booth– a tradeshow booth he himself also designed. Continuing further through the Merchandise Mart we notice the catalogs, advertising and collateral pieces being handed out at the show, that as it turns out, he too conceptualized, designed and produced. As mid day approaches and we begin to consider lunch, we're guided to the food court area by Lustig's comprehensive signage system. Pretty much anywhere you look, you see his design influence.
One person with such an over arching perspective and skillset, in addition to the ability to think big.

One other important factor in Lustig's sucess was the fact that he was often hired by clients who trusted him, and by trust I mean the fairly rare kind of trust where the client has the confidence to step back, and to step away from preconception. A client who has a vision for something bigger than themselves. A vision so big not any designer could accomplish it. This is part of why he was so successful, aside for a tremendous intellect, drive and talent.
If clients really want their result to have, well, results, they will get out of the way of strategic thinkers and innovators and let them do what they are gifted to do. Any designer can conduct themselves in a karaoke type of service to the end product, but only when a client trusts a designer can true innovation and break through work actually take shape with true voice.

I literally had a dream about Neocon the other night. This from a person who barely ever dreams. But it's people like Alvin Lustig who lead the way with projects that not only get results, but inspire. To dream. To build. To take the bar a notch higher. And who in the end serve the entire process best through genuine creativity, guts, big picture thinking and ultimately value to a companies' bottom line.

See ya' at Neocon. June 12. I can't wait.

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