I believe that creativity flourishes in the intermingling of different arenas, with learning across methodologies, sensitivities, intuitions and priorities. I have been fortunate to benefit from quality education, training and rich experiences in psychology, law, fine and applied art and design. For me, a multidisciplinary perspective is second nature. In her TED talk, Emilie Wapnick called this approach “idea synthesis”. Creativeworks London (CWL) champions this process and provides the space and time for fertile collaborations.
My “idea synthesis” intersects psychological wellbeing, technology, design thinking and applied arts. The impetus comes from the challenges posed by what many claim is a mental health crisis. One in four adults in the UK confronts a mental health issue every year; bearing enormous cost implications for the individual, our economy and society. Because of the existing burdens on our health care services, innovative solutions are needed.
Over the last two years I have been laying the groundwork for my project which proposes several hypotheses to tackle these issues:
• That despite our new reliance on the digital, as humans we retain deep attachments to objects;
• That objects cue memories and stories which can assist in a therapeutic environment;
• That objects possessing digital capabilities but built with applied art sensibilities can be enabling in therapy or wellbeing strategies and be emotionally evocative and enduring.
To support these propositions, I have marshalled existing academic research from diverse spheres including object attachment, real time therapy assessment, evidence based therapies (with cognitive behaviour therapy the NICE recommended treatment for anxiety and depression) and the utilisation of Apps for behaviour change and wellbeing. I approached CWL with the aim to initiate a proof of concept for an Internet of Things object – software system (physical object with integrated dedicated app). Our aim: to make an aesthetically compelling physical tool with digital features where clients discharge emotions and take positive actions to support their strategies for wellness – a sort of “digital worry bead.”
Through the CWL Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence scheme I met my CWL Academic Partner, Professor Jonathan Freeman; I was introduced to a kindred spirit. Jonathan is a Professor of Psychology but also Managing Director of i2Media Research housed at Goldsmiths, University of London; he brings together expertise in psychology with digital media and user experience design, essential to my project and missing from my own portfolio as an applied artist. We hosted user workshops which provided a new methodology in my personal toolkit and enabled me to develop insightful and appropriate designs.
Jonathan also introduced me to members of Goldsmiths Design department, experts in materials and making including Martin Conreen, Pete Rogers and Andrew Weatherhead. Working with them moved me from theory and ideas to reality – the first iteration of a working prototype made with optimal choice materials.
As a Creative Entrepreneur, my aim is not theoretical but commercial: to develop and bring to market our product which blends craft, technology, psychology and wellbeing. I have founded a start-up, Ogenblik Ltd. along with a talented co-founder possessing a complimentary skillset. We have assembled an active Board of Advisors with expertise in clinical psychology, clinical trialling, technology and the Internet of Things and software development. Before proceeding with our commercialisation strategy, we need to complete the proof of concept and undertake robust user trials. Because this involves physical objects as well as software, the costs are greater and the trialling procedures more complex. It is a critical period for us to locate additional financing sources and develop new partnerships.
As seed funding is a common hurdle for start-ups, particularly those in both the creative and the social enterprise arenas, we have worked with Brigid Howarth (Senior Business Development Manager) from Queen Mary University of London to organise a symposium about forward funding as part of the CWL Festival, 29th April 2016. Our panel From Academic Collaboration to Commercialisation, including representatives from NESTA, Angels Den and KTN will discuss issues relevant to the Creative Entrepreneur moving from academic collaboration to real world commercialisation. We’d love to have a multidisciplinary mix in the audience so wherever you are from and whatever your interests please come along. Click here for more information and to book a place.