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.”
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. Please drop by again to learn about how provocations can inspire and shape the creative process. Take a peek into the electrifying atmosphere within frog’s innovative provocation spaces in a short video below.
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