The enduring proverb ‘two heads are better than one’, traces back to the Bible, where in Ecclesiastes, 4:9-12 it says, ‘therefore two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil’, never has the saying been more acute than in today’s business landscape, where standing out from the crowd has become increasingly difficult – the adage delivers a heady warning to us all that to truly compete, the three-legged race is perhaps most likely to deliver gold.
Symbiosis in Design and The Power in Collaboration
An Interpretation of Exploring a Classic : Winnie the Pooh at the V&A
From one nostalgic childhood reference to teamwork to another, CellarDoor’s recent trip to the Exploring a Classic: Winnie the Pooh exhibition at the V&A further reinforced the idea of symbiosis in a design relationship context across a visually stunning array of artefacts all leading to the inevitable conclusion that Milne and Shepard were among the first power couples in the world of literature / illustration where interplay between the structure and form of written word and accompanying drawings enriched reader experience – Milne’s text was deconstructed in such a way as to intertwine with Shepard’s character rich imagery forming free flowing rivers of beautifully indeterminable patterns.
"Both Milne and Shepard and Methuen realised it was this combination of illustrations and narrative together that made it so compelling. It's quite clear from the correspondence that they realised it was key to the success"
James Campbell, married to Shepard’s great-granddaughter.
The mutual benefits of this relationship have since been seen to some degree with Dahl / Blake and more recently with Daywalt / Jeffers, where collaboration in its truest sense is readily observable and evidenced by the undeniable enhancement of one craft by the other. While to the onlooker the resultant beauty of this cross-disciplinary marriage appears effortless, it is doubtless that any marriage is not without its ups and downs.
The inherent difficulties with idea sharing often relate to ownership and authority – a power struggle of sorts between two fields of expertise and the reluctance to succumb to another’s knowledge. In spite of a wealth of clichés, proverbs and everyday psychobabble loosely spewing Francis Bacon’s assertion that “Knowledge is Power’, there remains reluctance to introduce others into the fold, but if we could redefine our comfort zones in the context of skillset and know-how and nurture a forward-thinking environment in terms of being open minded to multidisciplinary approaches to project briefs [where appropriate], optimization of business capacity through collaboration and imparting knowledge offers thrilling possibilities for both client and employees alike.
Competition makes us faster, collaboration makes us better
Fostering an ongoing learning culture however requires curation, as Morten Hansen asserts in his book, Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results; “the goal of collaboration is not collaboration, but far better results,” so the success of resource pooling has a great deal to do with a solid understanding of the talents within your team and clear lines of communication between client and studio in order to facilitate collective thinking. This innovation will not only encourage ‘blue sky thinking’, but could help achieve far greater outcomes, boosting morale in the studio and building strong client relationships.