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Today, the world is experiencing one of the most trying periods in recent years where our physical and emotional endurance is being put to the test. The spread of COVID-19 has put millions of lives at stake. Locked down within our homes, we are looking at an unsteady present and a highly uncertain future.

Working from home has become the norm and we are spending hours inundated with every kind of information about the pandemic. Be it in the form of Whatsapp forwards, news articles or Instagram stories, the dissemination of information is at an all time high and we are at leisure to take it all in!

Amidst all the information coming my way, what seemed to pop out was that, even during a global crisis of this magnitude, there was a spurt of new ideas and innovation from every corner of the world. The observation got me searching for more examples of the different kinds of innovative technologies, unique designs and creative communication that was doing the rounds during this pandemic, and what emerged was fascinating.

One such product I came across was the ‘germ trap’ snood designed by Virustatic, a UK based biotechnology firm that apparently ‘deactivates’ viruses after filtering them onto its surface. Meant to cover your neck and approximately half of your face, the Virustatic Shield’s fabric is where the magic lies. It is said to imitate the surface structure of the human oesophagus, with a special coating that is believed to trap up to 96% of airborne viruses, thus enabling users to filter out harmful infections around them!

Another ingenious product, I found, was a hands-free door opener designed by Belgium-based company Materialise. To be attached to a door handle, this makes use of one’s arm or elbow to open doors thus reducing the risk of touching an otherwise potential ‘hot-spot’ for infections. What’s more, it is 3D printed, and Materialise has made the design downloadable for free from their website, making it extremely easy to use for individuals and organisations to print it as and when required.

During the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, the identification of those infected and their movement history has been of utmost importance. The Smart Helmet designed by China-based tech firm KC Wearable was something I found quite fascinating. This helmet is equipped to detect people with a fever up to five metres away, subsequently sounding an alarm to that effect! Featuring an infrared temperature detector, an augmented-reality visor, a camera that can read QR codes, plus wifi, Bluetooth and 5G enabled so as to beam data to the nearest hospital this product truly seems like a thing of the future.

A highly useful yet seemingly controversial innovation, to me, were a series of tracking apps developed by South Korean coders, one of which happens to be the Corona 100m. These applications build on the testing data collected by the government to alert users when they come within 100 metres of a location visited by an infected person. Such advanced tracking devices can definitely be crucial in curbing the incessant rise in the number of infected people. What needs to be considered, however, are the subsequent consequences when surveillance of this level is allowed and the boundaries of privacy become blurry. But I won’t delve into that for now. That is a subject for another blog!

In addition to these product and technology-based innovations, what I realised was that dissemination of important information in ways that are effective and memorable was the need of the hour. And I must say that I have come across some of the most creative instances in communication design during this COVID-19 period! From those that educate us about the crisis, inform us about crucial do’s and dont’s to the ones that turn this grim situation around, into something hilarious. For instance, when I saw this hand-washing tutorial by Iranian mime artist Danial Kheirikhah, where he can be seen furiously washing his hands to the tunes of classical music, it was just the thing I needed to see. Simple, funny and so effective!

Another widespread visual used to communicate the importance of social distancing has been that of burning matchsticks. When I first saw it, the impact was instant and the message was crystal clear. Adapted by various artists, animators and designers, it used such a strong visual metaphor that it became impossible to forget and extremely easy to understand. What’s more, it required no caption, no explanation thus crossing boundaries of language, cultures and education, to be understood by one and all.

I also had the chance to see some of the most creative campaigns from organisations across the world. At a time when business is slow, customers are wary, nobody is moving or buying or stepping out of their homes, advertising is playing a key role in helping brands stay relevant while being sensitive to present circumstances. Mercedes Benz talks about staying at home while Burger King’s quarantine whopper encourages customers to make their own burgers at home! It is amazing to see how these brands have turned around their product or service into a powerful message asking people to stay indoors and stay safe. All over the world, in every field, people are finding new ways to inform, engage and inspire millions.

However, what I realised is this. We aren’t witnessing this phenomenon for the first time.

History has shown us, that through the years, in the face of adversity, turmoil and tragic circumstances, creativity has never said die. Wars, socio-political unrests and economic crises have all invariably led to some of the most path-breaking ideas and innovations in the fields of product design, architecture, technology as well as communication. Take the iconic Charles and Ray Eames’ plywood splint for example. It became one of the most talked-about designs that emerged from the WW2. Not only that, but it has also further inspired many more designs in the years that followed, all based on the principle of problem-solving and ‘less is more’.

Years later, the Cold War also brought with it one of the most impactful visuals; the Fraternal Kiss by Russian artist Vrubel, that was actually based on a photograph but assumed a completely new meaning when it was painted on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall. The ‘I AM A MAN’ posters held by Memphis sanitation workers during the 1968 strike, was a simple design yet marked a significant moment in the American Civil Rights Movement and remained etched in the memory of the world. Closer to home, India’s own freedom struggle led to the propagation of khadi, spun using the charkha during the Swadeshi Movement by Mahatma Gandhi. Although it wasn’t unknown to the people, its creative juxtaposition against the backdrop of the British raj, made it a symbol of independence and of self-sufficiency and was adopted exponentially, throughout the country.

What I have noticed is that throughout history, difficult times have always led us to new beginnings. New materials are discovered, innovative products become a part of everyday life, art movements are initiated to do away with earlier styles, music evolves, architecture changes the way we see the world and technological advancements redefine the way we live. Every crisis brings with it a modification in circumstances and available resources. This further leads to a significant rise in new needs and unique problems. And with this, comes the drive to invent, to find a better way to deal with the circumstances at hand.

In the book, Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind psychologist Marie Forgeard, (McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School) explains, “Because adverse events force us to reexamine our beliefs and priorities, they can help us break out of habitual ways of thinking and thereby boost creativity. We’re forced to reconsider things we took for granted, and we’re forced to think about new things. Adverse events can be so powerful that they force us to think about questions we never would have thought of otherwise.” Adversity pushes us to find a way out and we turn to innovation and to design, which at its very core, is ultimately a problem-solving process. To mould what we have in the present, into an idea that has the power to change our future.

The article first published on GCD Studio

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Where everyone is in the lockdown and may feel depressed by the glooming news from the world outside, some of the Indian designers have taken the challenge of keeping themself motivated. Many have been creating on a regular basis and some of them are featured here. So, while you are keeping yourself and your family inside and safe, be inspired to create and share with others.

The-New-Normal-Lockdown

If you have created something which is worth featuring here, then please DM to us or email us at contribute@creativegaga.com. And while posting, the use of @creative_gaga, @creativegaga #Creativegaga be a good idea to reach a creative audience. 


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Sachin Puthran on Coronaism 2020

Coronaism 2020 – A period when humans came to a standstill and locked up inside their home. They found it difficult to accept the situation and felt lost, insecure and uncertain of the future.

T hough the entire family is now captive and forced to adjust to multiple dynamics of everyday living. We focus on creative professionals and see how we can redefine life and work for creative professionals.

Work from home has added a new dimension for all creative professionals to reimagine the future with a sustainable business model. But what happens next is very uncertain, as mankind has never seen such a human-pause across the entire planet. Nature has come out as a clear winner through this. Hence it is important to understand the ways of birds, animals and plants that have survived with ease without human intervention. Our overthinking so-called intelligent mind is the cause of such a disaster.



 

We have achieved a lot as being humans. We feel we have discovered a lot and know everything about the planet. But we failed. We failed to understand our existence and how to survive naturally. We took convenience as our yardstick of life. Everything is now controlled on our fingertips. Technology has intruded into every personal space and is tracking every move of ours. And now when the world has come to a PAUSE. We have been cornered. We are physically stuck and mentally blocked. What to do NEXT.

Being in Awareness

All of us are by now habituated to the fast pace of life. There was no time for self-introspection. Now is the time. This situation has given you an abundance of time with yourself. If we are still seeking answers in newspaper, television or Whatsapp, then depression is not far. Negativity hurts. It gets into your subconscious and fear and insecurity is the only emotion you are left with. Switch to early morning meditation. Any modality that allows you to be at ease with yourself works. In that mode of oneness, being in the NOW moment, allows you to connect with your self-consciousness.

 

The universal life force that magically runs the entire system starts flowing through you. That energy has the power to raise your awareness of the highest frequency. Once you resonate in that range, messages, ideas, visuals show up as a guiding light. Your awareness picks it up and gives you valuable insights on ‘what next’.



Total Surrender

The entire cosmos is designed to work systematically and in harmony as a continuous a cycle. The Sun, Moon, Sky, Ground, Water do their duties selflessly. Why is it then that we challenge this beautiful flow? Why intrude? Be like nature. Free-flowing. Giving and taking. Why conclude? Why have a fixed point of views – why not explore & experience? Why not live in choices and possibilities? The magic is in total surrender. This, however, is the most difficult part. Once we learn how to let go just like that, we see the transformation of the inner self happening.

The Art of Minimalism

This situation has taught us to differentiate between needs and wants. Limited resources. Limited travel. Limited social meetings. Limited food choices. With the influx of too much information via mobile, people are now looking for ways to change their habits. Limited access has made life simpler. We are learning to be satisfied with what we have. Luxury and convenience are out. Fewer utensils. Less pileup. Less to wash. Less to waste. Less to wear. Less to spend. This seems to be a crash course in minimalism. Go for it with grace.



What About My Job, My Business?

Well, this is a challenging question. Loads of insecurity, lots of big risks and complete shutdown. How to survive this phase? Well, positive thinking surely helps. Keep away from fake news and negative content to start with. Start talking to your peers and look for collaboration possibilities. Keep your communication with existing clients and discuss new possibilities. All these are normal human actions.

 

To be in an evolved state, one may need to transcend normal behaviour. Ask, how can you be a contributor now? What else can show up in my life? What is it that Ι have not explored, that can change the course of my life? What can I do differently? When you are in total awareness and consciousness, the universe will make shifts and changes to show up things, people or situations that will answer your questions.

We hope, this answers some our the most pressing questions in the age of coronaism.

 

Feel free to write to us at contribute@creativegaga.com for a collaboration or any other ideas you have in mind.