“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” — Charles Darwin
I came away from a seminar about unusual collaborations at last month’s Thinking Digital conference feeling very inspired. The seminar explored collaborations in the creative industries and involved some really interesting speakers, in particular Dominic Wilcox, an artist who has worked in collaboration with companies as diverse as MINI, Kellogg’s and Nike.
Dominic spoke of a project commissioned by car manufacturer MINI for an exhibition at London Design Festival, which asked him to envision his own ‘car of the future’. His vision was for a driverless car, or rather a nap-pod on wheels, which he chose to make out of the seemingly highly impractical choice of stained glass (inspired by the North East’s own Durham Cathedral) which led to a beautiful and eye-catching result.
Now, if MINI designers tried to envision an inventive ‘car of the future’, they may have been bound by practicalities that come with being an expert in their field; this is where collaboration was offered its time to shine! When someone from a totally different area of expertise looks at a project with fresh eyes, the result can be stunning and is not bound by these practical constraints.
The quirky nature of the collaboration was a story in itself, and it achieved widespread mainstream media coverage. It allowed both Dominic Wilcox and MINI (and Durham Cathedral) to reach audiences that they wouldn’t usually reach – car fanatics discovering more about art and vice versa.
This got me thinking about some other unusual collaborations, where the strength of each collaborator is combined to deliver even greater benefits to both. This is perhaps the most prevalent in the world of fashion, where high-end and high-street often combine to the benefit of both parties.
Some examples of these unexpected collaborations include the high-end fashion designer Stella McCartney’s collections for sports brand Adidas, Versace’s line for budget high-street retailer H&M, plus Regent Street’s Liberty London working with Havaianas to design a range of flips flops in its famous prints. In each of these combinations, the collaboration allows both brands to appeal to a wider audience – high-street brands reach more fashion conscious shoppers, and high-end brands reach a more mainstream audience. This refreshes both brands’ images, altering public perception. Not only that, collaborations often generate lots of publicity and media coverage for all involved.
Collaboration also works really well when employees from totally different areas of work are brought together to work on a project. We love our project groups here at NGI Solutions, and these bring together so many areas of expertise that one employee alone just couldn’t offer (unless they have superhero skills).
Can you think of any other notable unusual collaborations that brought together different worlds to deliver successful results?