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The Creative Chamber - Brainstorm in the Dark

The dark room is a place for young people who ask for new and exciting experience. Just imagine brainstorming in a chamber and you don't see who are there with you. It certainly attracts people to work together for more creative and better ideas!

Photo of Yong Chong
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We have often heard about the ineffective ways of brainstorming. For the introverts especially, brainstorming is always a painful experience as they need to brush shoulders and exchange ideas in an engaging way. 

"The Creative Chamber" works to strike a balance for the quiet ones. 

For common practitioners of brainstorming in our daily lives, we remind ourselves to be totally free of judgments when our peers express their ideas. However it is somehow undeniable that we still evaluate the feasibility of the ideas quietly. Your confidence will take a beating if you see your friends show their unconvincing faces. In the shaded setup of the dark chamber, however, you will be liberalised and have the freedom to share your ideas. You're not afraid to express the wildest and craziest ideas anymore.

Furthermore, when it is dark, our eyes can't see and the visual power goes to zero. This brings us a totally "quiet" moment and the focus is now fully on the challenge. When there is no light, there won't be stimuli and our brain can go full throttle to solve the actual problem in mind. 

The chamber comes with a complete darkroom (similar to those used for Dialogue in the Dark) and the participants who want to brainstorm will enter the room from different doors. They will then walk into their own black boxes in the chamber. A Sharpie will be available with 4 walls of writing surface. The leader in the room will reveal the challenge of the day. When the bell of the session rings for the first time, each participant begins to brainstorm for solutions. They can speak out their ideas loudly and then write on the "board". In 10 minutes time, the bell rings again. It signals the end of the brainstorming session. When the lights are on, the participants will have the chance to pass their ideas around to look for most achievable and awesome ones. 

This is a feasible solution as there were scientists from German Technical University of Dortmund and researchers such as Claudia Geidel, who had carried out experiments to validate the increase of creativity in the darkness. The illuminated participants were 30% less creative compared to their pals who brainstorm in complete darkness. 

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

This can be seen as a social experiment among the students. It can be launched as campaigns in school or built in local co-working spaces. Approach the students to ask them for challenges they are facing in and out of their schools. Encourage them to use the low-fi chamber (can be a two-sided booth) and select a few interesting ideas from each session. Parents and teachers then come together with the students to vote for the "best" idea. Do this as a weekly routine. Seek feedbacks from the students about their interests in this activity. Do they believe that they can solve problems? What are the changes over time?

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

Just like the Dialogue in the Dark that was originally from Germany, we have seen the idea now happening across the globe. I was in Hong Kong last month and saw a co-working space utilise the same concept to run a workshop. The facilitator is a blind person and the participants can empathise with him and learn with a more compassionate manner. A new idea will go far if it is constructive and exciting. A wild idea especially will get the word of mouth going and people will start to talk about it on social media before creating the massive virality for it. We have been practising different ways of brainstorming but we are almost doing the same thing even though the techniques have somehow evolved over the years. It's time for a change and have fun doing the creative stuff! This can be easily practiced by different communities and by whoever wants a change in the creative process.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

It could be the internal architecture planning and prototyping for the chamber. It would be lovely to have people from different communities, even outside of OpenIDEO to test it out with a low-fi prototype.


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Photo of Yong Chong

I happened to go to the whiteboard and found this from one of the fellows of d School. Nicely illustrated. That's why we need a dark room I guess ;)

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