Creativity – the power to act

Photo by Ana Escobar

Photo by Ana Escobar

‘Creativity is the power to act.’  Ai Weiwei

Ealier this week we hosted a panel discussion, which aimed to offer opening thoughts to our new students as they embark on degree courses at University of the Arts London. At CSF, we seek to find ways to offer students the opportunity to critically consider the context of their work, in terms of the wider systems within which they live and create new work.

We convened the discussion as a chance to hear the voices of nature, the future and humanity, so that students might respond through their courses and interactions inside and outside of the University and city. Creativity is the power to act; we need to give both space for creative action and purpose to our actions.

We were very lucky to be joined by two fabulous guests, Galahad Clark; founder of Vivobarefoot, a brand pioneering barefoot technology, which promotes a more natural body movement, Galahad is also Visiting Professor at London College of Fashion. Dan Burgess joined us from Good For Nothing; Dan has spent 17 years trying to listen to the future and working creatively across diverse disciplines and sustainability sectors, working with global brands, NGO’s, web start-ups, innovators, social entrepreneurs and activists.

Professor Dilys Williams, introduced our guests and opened the conversation by asking Galahad his thoughts about design in relation to the individual, community and society. Galahad has been quoted as saying he wants to make ‘shoes obsolete’ a radical statement given that footwear design and manufacturing is practically part of his DNA. Galahad touched on the notion that through our design exploration and practice we often come full circle, back to the beginning. A metaphor that reflects his interest in closed loop design.

As an activist and voice for nature, a lot of Dan’s work revolves around the creation of a deeper connection and interaction with nature. Dilys wondered what Dan’s thoughts were regarding the role of active citizenship in relation to the flourishing of nature and community. ‘Humans are great innovators’ he told us, but as we’ve become more disconnected with nature, we have become worse at considering the longer-term consequences our innovations have on our world. He urged students to unlearn a lot of what they had learnt so far to be more flexible and innovative in the future.

“Nature is the greatest designer” – Dilys Williams.

Dilys asks the panel “What can we do individually for mass cultural change?” Perhaps it was the environment we found ourselves in, a room full of a new generation armed with the tools for citizen action but education seemed key. Galahad discussed the need to educate ourselves in the human condition whilst Dan touched on the need to re-educate ourselves on seeing the world as the connected place that it is, advising students to work on the things that you deeply care about. Urging us that we shouldn’t be just designing and creating new things because we can. Galahad is passionate about taking ancient understanding along with the advances in new technologies to create products with longevity and better functionality, crossing disciplines to look for things in unexpected places.

We ended with the panel offering advice for students embarking on their journeys at LCF; Dan spoke of the importance to look after our own well being and to look for real problems that need creativity to move them forward, touching on his Good For Nothing initiative, a generosity economy sharing expertise and connecting people. Galahad suggests we should be taking two paths of study, one of an understanding of ancient wisdom alongside the developments in new technologies, and our Director Dilys urges students to join the LCF community; create networks that will shape your life.