Posted on 8/28/2012 7:54 AM by Debbie Designer

A while back I ventured over to the new 3form showroom for a Designer Pages IDNY event featuring David Rockwell of Rockwell Group

The three brands were a clout trifecta, and the space was jam-packed despite the stormy weather brewing outside. Turns out 3form's showroom is a cheery, colorful, and inviting place for both rubbing elbows and passive aggressively jabbing elbows on the way to the bar. But never mind all that. For once I'd like to talk about the actual presentation. 

David Rockwell is a great public speaker. He is natural, relatable, and as is true with most designers, he knows how to put together one hell of a good-looking presentation deck. Did I mention the man is also an inspirational sound-byte machine? 

He began by urging everyone to "find what we're passionate about and keep that alive in the work that we do." He encouraged us to keep our eccentricities rather than brush them off, because "the moment you stop taking creative risks is the moment you stop being interesting." 

I guess I'll continue with the decoupage voodoo doll chandeliers then, no? 

"The question we must ask ourselves everyday is 'What if?'" 

Alright, so what if you could dine under a chandelier made entirely of decoupaged voodoo dolls? I mean really, what if

David presented some of his NYC what ifs in progress, including inhabitable billboard signs in Times Square and a basketball/football stadium double stack meant to reflect New Yorkers' way of experiencing the city vertically. 

He also showed us some of the what ifs he's seen to fruition. There's the JetBlue T5 Marketplace at Kennedy International Airport, for which he collaborated with Broadway choreographer Jerry Mitchell to help tap into intuitive movement.

There's the Jamie Oliver food truck, with an inflatable amphitheater out the back.

There's the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, where the "rocket scientists" at Rockwell Group Lab created an open source design program to stream interactive graphics across 400 screens throughout the West Lobby. 

And then there's Imagination Playground, the heavily publicized project that fosters unsupervised play for the city's littlest jaded residents. It was at this point in the presentation that David showed us a video of children building their own playground. 

His knack for one-liners must have rubbed off on these kids, who would otherwise tend to say the darnedest things, I'm told. In this case they were saying a few very specific things that were uncannily parallel to David's point. Things like, "it's important to have a lot of fun," and "we can dream, and anything we dream will come true," or "we can do anything as long as we work together." 

Pretty adorable stuff. 

3form was quick to jump on the theme as well, ending the night with a message about their ability to turn your next project into a big kids' imagination station playtime fun house. It's quite true, in fact, so kudos to them for hosting an event that well reflects their own ethos. 

In sum, the night was a lovely "Dream the Big Dream" pick me up, and I left with a new energy to stand my creative ground. Too often our vision gets squashed--typically by a nervous corporate middle man who failed in the past and forgot that little part about getting back on the horse. It's those types of people who try to take the big ideas and put them in a box, complete with budget, timeline, and marketing strategy. But this is not how dreams work! 

We need to allow room for silly ideas and outrageous notions of improbable scale. Through them we are able to look at the world in different ways, explore uncharted territory, and make new connections. 

Point well taken, Mr. Rockwell. But how do some of us smaller fries convince our clients to come along for the ride? If any of you have a story to share about taking big risks, and getting support for them, I'd love to hear about it!