The Room of Nothing: Bright Ideas Can Come from Dark Spaces

frog design pros discuss the power of provocation when it occurs in a void and how quiet power can make a lot of noise.

How do you provoke creativity in a room devoid of any stimuli?

In a dimly lit 18- by 15-foot space at this year’s SXSW Festival, frog explored this question and four others in a series of on-site “provocation rooms.” Each room focused on the power of provocation to stimulate thought.

The Room of Nothing (AKA ‘The Void’) presented three pathways—pause, escape, breathe—to inspire people to find and create space for creativity in their lives. It was one of five distinct environments that were prominently featured at the event.

Pausing to innovate    

The Room of Nothing was a place to pause…a good thing, since pausing is a precursor to inspired creativity. Robert Poynton, Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford penned an article titled “The Importance of Pause for Creativity, Opportunity and a Good Life wherein he opines that the creative process always has some kind of pause built into it.  

Silent, dark and moody, The Room of Nothing delivered a unique, immersive experience in quiet contemplation. Though without noise and color, the room felt ambient and inviting, with people cloaked in the sensations of texture found within its oddly mysterious, monochrome environment. “People loved the quiet—the sound quality of it,” said frog Alum Florence Guiraud. It was the kind of quiet that could prompt an altered state of consciousness where imagination and ingenuity dwell.  

Escaping to higher thought 

More than a place to pause, it was a fun place to pause. As a pathway to higher thought and imagination, The Room of Nothing was designed as a getaway where visitors could ease their minds. The room was home to a simple, streaming, black-and-white video on an automatic loop. Its purpose was to serve as an unconscious call to action—a provocation to do something. The video content sparked intention and inspired thinking that could produce the amazing.  

The Room of Nothing offered flight into the realm of imagination where people do things, build things and shape the future with a renewed sense of clarity. 

Breathing your way to clarity

Inside the room, people were guided to focus on their breathing. “We need a room like this in every studio,” some visitors said. It was a room that forced people to go inward, provoking their critical thinking within an environment ripe for challenging mindsets. Looking inward can inspire emotion. Some even called it a “cry room.” Others called it a “nap room.”

“Breathe. Calm down. Don’t talk too fast. Then come back with a clear point of view. If that happens, we know we’ve created something fun.”
Carmen Garza, Associate Design Director, frog Austin

The Room of Nothing provoked thinking around ideating and producing excellence from a place of clarity on what matters most. Even the development of the room inspired green thinking. Most of the materials used to “silence” the room were made out of felt underlayment used for flooring in construction. When the room was dismantled, those same materials, consisting of hundreds of feet of usable recyclables, were donated.  

The Room of Nothing created space for something. From within nothingness, we can harness our creativity and seize the future we want. Developing that future requires contemplation and deliberation in a place where we can pause, escape and breathe. 

This was the first in a series of five blogs posts that explore the power of provocation, inspired by frog’s presence at SXSW 2023. In The Room of Urgency, we’re seeing firsthand how AI can help us with decision-making. In The Room of Paradox of Choice we question how receptive we are having an AI assistant make decisions for us. In The Room of Silence challenges the future without speaking. Finally, in The Room of Lies, we look closely at AI’s impact on truth and creativity. Take a peek into the electrifying atmosphere within frog’s innovative provocation spaces in a short video below.

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Carmen Garza
Associate Design Director, frog Austin
Carmen Garza
Carmen Garza
Associate Design Director, frog Austin

Carmen is Associate Design Director for the Visual Design discipline in frog Austin. Previously, she was Visual Design Lead at frog New York. During her tenure at frog, she has also initiated global fireside chats for frog worldwide to bring outside motivation to all studios.

She works on projects of all kinds—from material exploration with industrial designers and mechanical engineers to strategic conceptual designs and spends her days working on brand strategy, packaging, print design, web design, video and photo direction, video editing and a lot more, along with her forte, concept design. 

In her free time, Carmen operates Think Carmen, her mobile communications design studio, where she’s collaborated with numerous organizations including Apple, Google, Disney Pixar, Top Shop, Chessman, MOEN and VSA Partners.

Carmen’s work has been featured in many local and international publications. She’s served as part of the AIGA Houston Board, has been guest speaker at various conferences, including SCAD and has been invited to give lectures for organizations and universities throughout the United States.   


frog, part of Capgemini Invent is a global design and innovation firm. We transform businesses at scale by creating systems of brand, product and service that deliver a distinctly better experience. We strive to touch hearts and move markets. Our passion is to transform ideas into realities. We partner with clients to anticipate the future, evolve organizations and advance the human experience.

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