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Working Within Creative Constraints

About a year ago I watched Under Great White Northern Lights, a documentary about the band The White Stripes. In it, singer (and former upholsterer) Jack White talks about how he is best able to create, by setting up sometimes crazy constraints for himself:

He says: "Deadlines and things make you creative. But opportunity and telling yourself…'Oh you got all the time in the world, you got all the money in the world, you got all the colors in the palette…anything you want'…That just kills creativity."

Make It Merry and Bright

The creative expression that abounds during the holidays is proof of his point. Think about how many constraints people are working within: "holiday" colors, themes, imagery. They have their own goals: make it cozy, make it festive, make it bright, merry, religious, funky. The time is fixed: after Thanksgiving and before December 25. Within these boundaries, people who otherwise do not "decorate," pull of some pretty amazing displays. Constraint breeds creation.

Give Us All the Limits

The principle of establishing creative constraints is fundamental to our success in giving clients functional, beautiful rooms. Before we begin any "creative" work, we figure out the boundaries of the project. We want to know every limit of the job and have learned over the years that the more there are, the more creative we can and must be.

Once we have determined budget, function, color scheme, the pieces we are working with, the preferences of the people we are designing for...we can get to work. Another constraint we place on ourselves is doing the most work possible within the least amount of time: speed.

At the end of the day, we couldn't function without constraints. There would be no walls and no building blocks for our work. Taking on the clients' parameters and combining it with our aesthetics produces a unique result every time. And, it's why we complete every project fulfilled and grateful that this is our "job."

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