Weaving Together Commerce and Creativity

      

One of the great aspects of the  Commerce and Creativity Conference, C2-MTL in Montreal, was that each speaker’s presentation was unique and truly different from the standard conference fare.  During presentations, we were treated to a variety of presentation styles that kept everyone off their computers and phones, except for an occasional tweet or photograph.

We were entertained by Circque du Soleil as a means of hearing about how they remain creative.  We saw a jaw-dropping slide show of architecture by Winy Maas while he narrated the story of how his ideas developed in a style that was so charming and natural that the 45 minutes or in what seemed like a moment.  And just like one of Mass’s apartment buildings, each presentation fit together but remained a unique and personal experience for the audience.

There were brilliant take-aways from every speaker so far.  None of them tactical.  Not all of them even possible to even reduce to words.  But two talks were so filled with quotable lines about the creative process that I can share the notes here.

Ian Schrager spoke without notes about his own personal history creating boutique hotels.  As he said, “the only way I know to talk about creativity is to explain my own personal experience.”  Here are some of the things he said:

  • When I got started, hotels were a place to sleep.  If all other hotels were like department stores, trying to be all things to all people, we were a boutique, trying to appeal to a sensibility and a psychographics.
  • Elevate the experience. Make it fun.
  • Don’t focus on the money. Just care about the product and the money will take care of itself.
  • Design is not about looks but about the emotional connection.
  • A product has to give off its essence, it’s vibe.  If not, it’s empty.
  • Ideas don’t come from the customers, from analysis, or from the intellect.
  • Creativity is doing something for yourself.
  • We didn’t want a hotel that had a different color. We wanted a hotel that had a different idea.
  • Value is a watchword.  It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor.  People want value.  Service is also a watchword.  You don’t have to give obsequious service but good service is a basic requirement.
  • Avoid cliches.  No Empire State Building pictures in New York hotels.
  • The ultimate sophistication is simplicity.
  • Take the pretension out of the design.
  • We don’t do advertising because that’s what everyone else does.  We take movers and shakers and spread the word.
  • It doesn’t start out with a plan. It’s like a journey.
  • If you are trying to do something cultural that reflects the times, it has to invoke art.

AT the end of the day, Robert Wong spoke and following the Cirque de Soleil presentation was a tall order that he filled beautifully with a simple, emotional presentation of the power of Google.  Wong is Chief Creative Office of Google Creative Lab (is there any cooler title in the world?)  Here are some of the ideas he shared:

  • Whoever has the best motivation wins.
  • What makes work win?  1.  Help someone and 2. Wow someone
  • Show up and be useful
  • Do one thing that scares you every day.

Wong’s presentation hit the high points when he told stories–one his own–about how people used Google to create something of beauty that reflected a pure, personal and inspiring motivation.

This is the first year of the conference that one person tweeted could become the Davos of creativity.  Looking forward to another full day of speakers, I wouldn’t doubt it.

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