You’d be forgiven for thinking that a job that demands you spend a good deal of time casting around for ideas isn’t really a job at all. You might as well be recompensed for daydreaming; it could easily be mistaken for a very similar vocation.

But let me say right here, it’s really rather demanding. That constant susurration, the nagging thought that there’s nothing new about whatever point you’ve arrived at takes quite a toll. And yet for those in the starry stratstophere of design’s top tier of influencers, it really doesn’t seem to trouble them at all where the alight, nor bother them that some ideas are, well, just a bit shit.

Launching a new clothing range? Let’s dump it into dustbins and bin bags for the launch and in store. Need to transcend the humble kitchen sink? Pretend that your exhibition stand is really “a portal to a new idea of the world.” Need to build a new city but don’t have the space? Well, duh, make it 100 miles long, half a mile high. And one block wide.

Of course, it’s easy to mock (and as another commentator noted, those jokes write themselves) other peoples ideas. Clearly they’re designed to garner all the attention, good, bad or indifferent; after all, it’s really hard to grab a share of other’s minds – by example, apparently people watch TV (especially big-budget streaming-service type productions, where no effort is spared to wrest you from the moment and transport you for an hour) with the subtitles on, all the time. Not because they’re hard of hearing, but so they can glance and catch the drift of the programme while glancing between the big and small screens.

If even Netflix can’t command absolute focus, what chance has your idea got if it’s not batshit crazy?

Just up the road from where I work, there’s a laboratory* where they’re busy heating elements together to 150 million degrees Celsius – that’s 10 times hotter than the middle of the Sun – to chase the dream of fusion power. They’ve been at it since 1982, when it must have seemed an idea so remotely unachievable I can’t even begin to imagine how they got the operation off the blocks. Astonishingly, it appears they’ve nearly cracked it. Or at least, on the right track towards it, although admittedly it might take as long again before its powering your screen.

Some ideas, really insane ones, rarely make it to even the footers of trending pages. But it’s there, outside of the shitegiest, where the really interesting stuff is happening. I recommend taking a look.

*It’s the JET (Joint European Torus) facility, based in Culham. You’d never guess as you rattle past on the train, that just over the fence was a miniature star being made in a warehouse.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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