Collaboration: Part One

An idea, when shared, becomes a plan.

Have you ever tried your hand at collaboration? I highly recommend it.

My good friend, Carol Herman of Knit=Joy, came over the other night for dinner and a design challenge. We started with an inspiring but simple meal: chicken salad with arugula and sunflower sprouts on seeded bread with a little Asiago cheese and lavender balsamic on top. And iced coffee. (This is Olive Knits, after all — and with a mantra like “Eat. Breathe. Knit.” you know I have to mention the food.) We sat outside on my back patio, ducking the last bits of evening sun, as we nibbled, talked and shared our latest obstacles and achievements in design.

Dinner on the patio with a knitting friend is surprisingly therapeutic.

And then, with full bellies and alert minds (thank you, Stumptown Coffee), we unveiled the design elements we’d each brought to the challenge: flowers, pottery, an antique plate, an antique vase, an artichoke and a vintage bread sack. There were no parameters, no guidelines: just bring three things that inspire you.

We gazed intently. We turned things over and held them upside down. We scribbled. We took pictures. We got very very close and scoured for details, then stepped away and took it all in.

“Oh! Look at this shape! It’s here, and here, and here!”

“Look at these color themes!”

What I love most about a challenge like this is that it gets me out of my head. I’m never at a loss for ideas, but sometimes I need to bust out and turn the process upside down.

Looking closely at our every day items and partnering them with unrelated pieces is like giving yourself a brand new palette with only a few colors and a blank canvas and saying: Paint something. But instead of throwing you into the wild, creative unknown, you have a few paving stones pointing you where to go. You have a place to start. You might not know where you’re headed but you know where you’re beginning, and that’s something.

Not knowing where this challenge will lead is one of my favorite things about it. With no time frame to conclude our challenge and only a monthly dinner to revisit the process, we’ll be nurturing these seedlings for the next many months as we see where our inspiration takes us. We’ll be reporting on how this creative process is coming together for each of us as we go along, and we’d love to inspire you to take your creativity to the next level by finding someone to partner with for a similar design challenge. The process might surprise you!

Please visit Carol’s blog post to read about her first impressions of the collaborative process.

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