As the coronavirus spreads and presents us with challenges, we can see how it majorly disrupts our lives, yet one aspect that it didn’t put a damper on is our creativity for innovation. In the past, we’ve seen how bursts of creativity and innovation have sparked in times of crisis — while constraints were initially assumed to be barriers, it turns out to be the opposite as it could provide a framework for ideation.
Creativity in Times of Crisis
With the surplus of coffee beans during the Great Depression, Nestle invested in creating instant coffee that owns long shelf-lives. This was then popularised during World War II as fresh coffee beans became scarce and were heavily rationed out.
Amidst the Greek Debt Crisis, a new creative scene has overtaken Athens in response to the national crisis and the current system; this can be reflected through the rise in Art Residencies, galleries, and the popularity of the street art scene scattered throughout the streets of Athens.
The 2008 financial crisis has also been attributed to the success of platforms that promote a shared economy such as Airbnb and Uber. With the recession and fall in incomes, individuals sought innovative ways to maintain their way of living which included short-term leasing of their apartments and providing ride-sharing services.
Identical to the rise of art movements in previous crises, designers and marketers alike have come together to create new content and campaigns, all fuelled by the constraints that the coronavirus has provided for them.
Curating a collection of artworks that displays solidarity against the outbreak, @designers.against.coronavirus has made an archive of artworks which “presents the current circumstances in the eyes of creatives around the world”:
And as we are confined to our homes, marketers from IKEA have launched a campaign called “Making Home Count”, collating video responses of what is truly important for individuals, including the comfort of our spaces — the one thing that is truly important to us while we are confined in them.
Coming up with real solutions to combat the pandemic directly, a tracking app has been released by the South Korean government that allows for the live-updates of routes taken by infected individuals. Additionally, to increase accessibility for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing to communicate while wearing masks, a college student has created an innovative mask that has a see-through panel allowing them to still be able to communicate via lip-reading while still staying safe.
While these ideas would have still existed with or without the crises, it can be seen how the constraints derived from it have provoked ideas and solutions that were once unutilized or not mainstreamed. This is what we need: creativity for innovation.
Cultivating Creativity during Quarantine
Fuelled by a combination of constraints and boredom that’s presented to us in quarantine, it seems to be the perfect time to experiment with new ideas. The pause in the current economy gives us the creative freedom to experiment with unconventional or insanely simplistic ideas as we are excused from the fear of failure — creativity exercises, for now, can be explored for fun and not in means of getting success or meeting deadlines.
1. Exploring innovative ways to do everyday things while in quarantine
Ranging from simple social distancing measures to extreme quarantine orders, every single one of us has had to alter our everyday routines. While these measures may disrupt the effectiveness of our set-out routines, these obstacles now provide us with a constraint to think beyond the norms — it allows us to reevaluate the way we approach our daily activities and challenges us to think of new innovative ways to handle it.
As we practice social distancing, many of us have found alternative ways of what it means to stay connected — the primary way being through video calls on Zoom or Houseparty. Yet, for some, it doesn’t end there. Many took it a step further and used games such as Animal Crossing, Club Penguin, and even Minecraft to go about and socialise outside, all while being indoors. The one thing that all these games have in common is the virtual space where users can interact with other players, almost replicating what it is like to have a physical social life.
Similarly, daily activities such as going to the movies can be easily replicated through simple innovations such as using a home projector or even done virtually through Netflix Party, where you can hold long-distance movie nights.
2. Focus on side projects + adopting new skill
For the creatives out there who seem to never find spare time to focus on side-projects and creative endeavours, now’s the time! While many of us resume our corporate work from home, making it still somewhat busy, we now own the time saved from the commute, or all else that we do outside, to finally focus on our creative projects — be it an illustration, a coding project, or even simply a small DIY project.
Recently, one of our interns worked on creating an online version of Bridge, the card game, so he could continue playing it with his friends virtually. You can view his work here— do note that it is a Singaporean (Floating) version of Bridge, so the rules might be slightly different!
And for those who have never truly indulged in any form of creativity exercises, now you have the time to pick up a new skill; with various amounts of resources a click away from our disposable, it’s not difficult to adopt new skills during confinement. Learning platforms such as Skillshare and even CodeAcademy are now temporarily providing free access to their extensive list of courses to help aid students and individuals while schools are closed down.
3. Engage in constant ideation
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have
- Maya Angelou
The easiest way to cultivate creativity is through constantly utilizing it in every way possible, and perhaps even daily. As technology advances, there are constantly new platforms and tools being churned out that can be explored and leveraged to aid us in our creative processes.
A platform we’ve recently released called RollJak gamifies this ideation process and aids in collaborative rapid ideation. With the help of various prompts and game modes, Rolljak provides a platform to virtually collaborate and spark innovative and creative ideas. Not only does this provide a fun manner of constant ideation, which would expand our horizons and prevent creative blocks, it also acts as a tool to connect with others during this time, from the confinement of our own spaces. You can play it now for free here!
4. Stay connected with the rest of the world
Staying connected is vital during this time to keep you grounded and sane. But also, it can be used as a form of inspiration for your creative endeavours. As we see innovations pop up every day, we realise that these ideas are inspired by things happening around us — every innovation starts with a problem we need to solve.
As we see the shortage of protective equipment in hospitals being reported throughout news outlets, face shields have been made with the help of 3D printers, and mass-distributed to hospitals throughout Colorado to combat this problem.
With all the new constraints and obstacles emerging from the coronavirus, online media outlets and even social media platforms provide an easy way to stay updated with everything going on around the world. From there, we can easily take inspiration or even use those constraints to spark new innovative ideas to help humanity overcome this period of crisis.
At times like these, it is highlighted to us how creativity for innovation can be revitalised through constraints that are conveniently formed during crises. Yet while we aim to highlight this blessing in disguise, it in no means negates the privilege that comes with this silver lining: not everyone will have the means to cultivate high levels of innovation and productivity during this pandemic, but perhaps we can now start to incorporate small strands of creative thinking into our newly formed routines for life after the Coronavirus.