“Everything in this world…is made by people. Advertising, and logos, and new products, and cars, and hamburgers are all made by people. People make things for other people… but the outlet varies.” Yes, that is right. Burgers.

When we think about creativity, defining it is a challenge. What is creative? How do we arrive at it? Ultimately, it is self-defeating. An idea is creative only once. After that, it appears creative but is clearly less original. What we can do is try to create stronger creative processes.

San Francisco designer Cristopher Simmons along with a co-worker, decided to review a hamburger a week for a year. No, not brain surgery. But so much inspiration came out of the outlet and its applications. The hamburger reviews take a light-hearted approach to the fundamental skills of creative practice, the critical analysis and articulate communication that lets designers identify value and deliver it to a client and their audience. What makes this project so unique is that the lessons learned from hamburgers at burger joints apply across all creative endeavours.

Such as from this review of Barney’s Burgers– aptly titled Narrow Your Focus “To keep current, you need to regularly survey the landscape. To stay relevant, you need set your sights on a specific destination within the landscape—or better yet, look to the horizon.” Tasty and intellectually stimulating.

This idea, when first started did not by any stretch imagine them generating the interest they did, let alone appearing on TV (ok, it was for a Squarespace ad during the World Series). It was started as a “Useless Project”. But these useless projects are the germ of the creative and collaborative energy that leads to innovative practice in these non-value generating propositions. If you want to spark excitement and creativity, you need a certain freedom to get the creative juices flowing – especially if you are trying to overcome creative block.

This creative excitement transfers from the creatives’ side to the clients side. In this excellent post on 10 Consumer Behaviors Every Designer Needs to Know, it comes across quite clearly that inputs and outputs must align. If you, as a designer, want to connect your project to self-actualization, can you do it if you yourself feel stifled? When you have your own creativity injected into your work, it is much more likely your client(s) will feel it and identify with it. And sometimes doing things (very) differently, is the best way to “blow up the box”.

Or maybe in this case to “think outside the brown paper bag”.