Our Incredible Future: The Creative Renaissance
by The Dieline on 01/17/2023 | 5 Minute Read
By: Ben Parker
I have always believed in the incredible power of creatives. They dreamed up most of the technology we use today—artists, writers, thinkers, visionaries, architects, and designers—well before engineers, scientists, and businesses developed it.
Seeing is believing, and creatives have the power of vision. We can make things for real —out of thin air—moving quickly from theory to prototype. We can cut through complexity, work at pace, and collaborate across cultural boundaries like no others. We can demonstrate how change is possible.
But for too long, we’ve been using our skills for the wrong things—pushing toxic products, promoting poor ideals and standards, and producing only for the short term. We’ve become deeply addicted to fossil fuels, driven by hyper-consumption, and we’ve headed down the wrong path to a plastic planet.
We've lost our way, and now we're in danger of losing our belief in the power and positivity of what we can do for the world. To solve this, we'll need a new creative renaissance to reset our course.
The Renaissance, which began in Europe in the 14th century, set in motion one of the most accelerated and optimistic periods in all of human history. It came about as a response to the Middle and Dark Ages, a period of relative stagnation and decline. Society had forgotten many scientific learnings of the ancient Greek and Roman past and had become stuck with rigid ideas, slowed down by unchallenged religious and cultural orthodoxies.
The Renaissance's radicalism changed the future of humanity, placing it on a new course for the betterment of society. And who led this revolution? Not those political and religious leaders at the top. It was us. The creatives. Those with the power to imagine beyond the status quo or the boundaries set by society.
We now stand on the verge of a new renaissance, one set to catapult us away from our convenience addiction and transform us once again. As the visionary architect and theorist Buckminster Fuller said, “you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” These words have never felt so applicable and relevant to our changing times.
Today, as creatives, we need to bring these new models, ideas, and beliefs to life. At Made Thought, we see first-hand the incredible value we bring to clients like Xeros, who have created revolutionary microplastic filtration technology for home appliances. By using the power of design and storytelling to make their work and products both easy to understand and desirable, we can transform our awareness—translating science into the everyday— with simple solutions to eradicate microplastic pollution in our water systems.
We see these same energies at play with our work with Natural Fiber Welding, which uses the power of biological decay and rebirth to create truly circular materials which nourish the earth as they return to it instead of further damaging it. These extraordinary innovations can only scale through investment and demand, which in turn is ignited by the storytelling of the creatives.
After decades of pursuing "making things pretty to sell more," our creative skillset is now needed for an entirely different purpose. We see massive shifts in how we make and distribute products, the creation of new materials, and a push to eradicate single-use systems. Those are the new outcomes we creatives should drive towards, bringing our clients onto a fast track to their new future. Without these changes and the leadership of the creative industry, many of our clients will simply not exist. Irrelevant, out of touch, and unsustainable in every way, businesses that do not adapt to the new essential future will wither extraordinarily fast.
And to take on this new challenge, this new imperative for creatives, we will need new tools and guides. The launch of PlasticFree, the world's first materials and systems solutions platform, built by creatives and for creatives, is set to be one of those fundamental tools, empowering creatives worldwide to rethink materials and systems. We are all in the same minefield of misinformation, so trusted resources guiding us and giving us the confidence to push back against last century's creative briefs are vital.
Incrementalism has never been the way to drive revolutions forward. We need a large-scale call to action because design has a new purpose—to facilitate a shift in the everyday behavior of the population, and to make these changes directed, understood, and appealing. I believe deeply that our role is to use design for behavioral change, which is the most promising strategy for enabling social and environmental change.
Good design is about having the courage to envision a world unfathomably different from that of the present. It’s about looking beyond the horizon to understand the human experience of societies to come. It is time for the quiet—or not-so-quiet—design revolution.
Welcome to the creative uprising.
Ben is a founding partner and Creative Director of Made Thought. Based in London and New York, Made Thought works on projects for Pinterest, Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, Brewdog, and MoMA. Known for creating iconic brand identities with a design-led marketing approach, it often forces brands to confront and define their purpose before anything visual even comes to the table. The company has won many awards, including an iconic ‘Black’ D&AD Pencil, along with being voted as the UK’s Best Creative Studio.
Ben is committed to design as a tool for change, believing that design, culture, and ecology are instrumental to any creatives' knowledge base. We face the challenge of ushering in a new age: how can we make people care for the right things? How can we help them understand the innovative models and systems we need to adopt? How can we make things meaningfully desirable? He believes the clock is ticking on our future, often citing Attenborough’s, “saving our planet is now a communications challenge.” This single quote, for him, is a call to arms for the creative industries and the collective role we can fulfill.