An artifact from The Felt Hat's work on Star of India tea.

Sometimes we know exactly what we want, and if we’re lucky, we know exactly what process we should follow to get it. The more closely we follow the recipe, the more likely we are to pull perfect muffins out of the oven.


But when we are trying to generate creative outcomes, we have to start messing around with the process.  A creative process often generates a creative outcome, we know, but we’re less certain about how useful that outcome will be to our purpose (though presumably we know that an outcome that we’re sure of won’t work, either).

This line of thinking occurred to me during the Designspeaks presentation Thursday night by The Felt Hat design studio, specifically Don Rood and Nicole Misiti (Paul Mort was the silent partner in the front row). Several years ago The Felt Hat was in a funk, Rood  told us. The studio was doing fine financially, no small feat, but that success was built on its work on corporate reports. Increasingly, that felt like a creative dead end to Rood and his partners Misiti and Mort.

When in doubt, do some traveling! Off they went, at Misiti’s suggestion, to The Netherlands, a designers utopia of sorts, and after a month touring around and talking, they came back to Portland determined to do it differently. Step one: Take a deep breath and drop the corporate report design business. And replace it with what? With a process. As Rood said at the end of the evening, and I paraphrase,  If all we are doing is making brands cool, we are underachieving.


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