Let's inspire ourselves and others

By the time we presented and led "Designing the Unusual" virtual creative workshop at the 2020 ITP Camp for creative technologists in New York, the Coronavirus infection (COVID-19) has already claimed more than 400,000 lives worldwide (as of June 2020). The biggest recession of the postwar era has also started across nations as cities are sealed off and economic activities are shut down.


The impacts of social distancing has posed significant challenges to our creative energy. We don't have the same interactions with people and our environment that we drew inspiration from. Resource constraints have also prohibited us from realizing the full potential of our projects. As the situation continued, along with other ongoing societal issues and unrests in New York and other global cities, we wanted to transform these challenges and constraints into a positive spirit and an enjoyable experience while inspiring ourselves and others to continue to stay inspired and creative. We wanted to approach this "unusual" time of duress, chaos, full of uncertainties and complex challenges with an "unusual", "unconventional" thinking and resourceful problem-solving attitude to allow us to tap into our own and others' creative potentials. 


Let's share ideas and invent together!

New complex challenges such as COVID-19 pandemic, have forced us to think in ways we have never previously needed to in order to come up with solutions. How can we push the boundaries of our creativity to imagine new ways of solving the ever-increasing challenges we are faced with? 

"Designing the Unusual" is a product design and making workshop for those who are interested in not only making, but also provocative inventions inspired by ideas and objects that might come across as the “absurd”, “non-typical”, or whimsical kinds to solve problems.


Let's read comics again!

Since the start of social distancing, we’ve had the opportunities to listen to many people, about how everyone’s creativity has been put to the test. Sharing these personal stories, has helped build a support system to learn from and share with one another how to maintain healthy creative minds. Speaking of creativity, many of us always wish to have child-like imagination. Looking at life and everyday problems through the lens of a child - playful and free, could also help maintain a positive attitude towards challenging situations.

For many, an integral part of childhood is comic books. Comics have the ability to inspire children and widen their imaginations. But comics aren't just reserved for children. They also have the ability to fire up our adult imagination, allowing us to see new perspectives from visual storytelling. Indeed, "an image is worth a thousand words"; we decided to choose the comic-styled visual illustration of the contents with hope to expand imagination and creativity of our audience in a playful way.

Inspiration and Motivation

Sharing with others our own stories of maintaining creativity and seeking inspirations during a time of crisis, in the form of comic book pages, full of fun and simple yet elaborated graphic visuals, we hope to bring an aesthetic response that is inspiring and motivational to our audience.


Challenge our confidence in our own ingenious ideas

"Confidence in our ideas" sounds like a luxury. But, it is crucial, especially as we come up with innovative ideas that might be perceived as "unusual".  Oftentimes,  we don’t feel entitled to be inventors. We tell ourselves, “ Who am I to be the generator of that new idea? ”, or… “Probably this has been thought about before by someone else." Or, "If this is correct, someone else would have already done it before me.” This is how we kill our own ideas. We have to resist it.

As social animals who live in a society / an environment, we are always surrounded by stereotypes and "commons sense", or "norms". As we grow older, we become hardened to these customs. To challenge it would be to disrupt our own biased way of thinking and routines in order to see that there are other ways of approaching what we do in a different light. This requires us to be brave and be willing to challenge our assumptions and belief as well as our confidence in our own ideas.


Living in an age where advanced technology is ubiquitous, the "tools" is not the problem. What we really need is more unique, innovative ideas, to help us cross the borders between what we already know and what we haven’t yet seen or thought about, and bridge the possible and the impossible. So, instead of choosing to remain safely in a known environment, why not... let us allow divergent, irrelevant information to flow in. Let us continue to be open to mixing and matching different disciplines. Let us be bold and brave with our “unusual” ways.


Stay inspired and creative

"... a quick thank you note for a really wonderful workshop you led recently at ITP Camp 2020 ("Designing the Unusual").  Very interesting stuff. Really enjoyed the content and concepts and perspectives you shared.  The visual presentation was also so inspiring and so great." - Stephanie

"I really enjoyed your session the other day!  It was one of the more physically interactive sessions and it was fun and got the creative juices flowing!" - Ed

"It was very inspiring. I really loved the talk." - Lucy

"The "Inventor-lephone" ideation game and the prototyping challenge were really great exercises to reflect on the idea of interpreting what you see and what someone else is going to see with what you made - a great way to walk down a different road with the possibilities of what something could be just by changing scale, levels, angles of your perspective and imagination." - Judy