why you should fall in love with your clients?

April 8, 2014

by william choukeir

jay tells a story and a priceless lesson…

one evening, not able to sleep, he goes into the lobby of a hotel lounge. across the room from him, he spots one man having a drink by himself. being a lover of people, jay approaches the man, and introduces himself.

he only provides two pieces of information. ‘my name is jay abraham.’ ‘i’m here on business.’ he then proceeds to ask the man about his name, and why he’s here. turns out the man is here for a conference. he sells population control plans to governments. jay proceeds to ask him what population control is, what the process is, how does he approach governments, what the plan looks like. jay then switches conversation about where the man is from, how it’s like to live there, his wife and children, the school system. he then switches conversation again about his hobbies and past time. an hour and a half later, tired, jay excuses himself and walks towards the elevator having only told the man his name and that he’s here on business. before jay reaches the elevator the man shouts out to him: ‘hold on!’ he paces towards jay. ‘i just have to say that you are the most interesting person i’ve met during the past 5 years.’

standing by himself on the elevator door,
jay realises something big.

to be the most interesting person, you have to be the most interested.
to have your clients fall in love with you, you have to fall in love with them.

there’s one mindset that you can change, that by itself will transform the way you do business. jay calls this the strategy of preeminence. all you have to do is genuinely believe that it’s your obligation to fight for the best interest of your clients, and then act on that obligation forever. yes forever. because this only works if you’re in it for the long run, just like your clients are in it for the long run.

once you’ve fallen in love with your clients, then your clients will see you as their most trusted advisor. they will only want to do business with you. if you do this from day one, way before any money exchanges hands, then it’s inevitable that one day money will change hands.

love can drive business.

this post is from ‘edition 09’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:



why ants can never be creative: teamwork can kill creativity

March 11, 2014

by william choukeir

teamwork kills creativity

you’ve watched ants at work. you’ve seen them collaborating as a unified entity. a feat of teamwork that’s remarkable. ants are social insects. because of this social aspect, ants and productivity could be synonyms.

us humans are social too. we have an intrinsic need to belong[1]. however, another need could be even more powerful in certain situations: the need to individuate—to be unique[2]. with a strategic mindset-switch between belonging and individuality, we can hack our intrinsic needs to our benefits.

three revolutionary studies show that the need to belong drives productivity, while the need to individuate drives creativity[3]—an advantage we have over ants.

so, if the individuality mindset boosts creativity, does a belonging mindset kill it?

people who value belonging over individuality work collectively to support the group. motivated by their need to be accepted, they abide by the status quo. they refrain from sharing original thoughts in fear of getting rejected[4]. creativity is the combination of ideas that are both new and useful. because of this, a belonging mindset leads to less novel ideas and thus fewer creative outcomes. the upside is improved productivity because group members are working towards a unified outcome.

on the other hand, those who value individuality over belonging live by their own rules in a  world that demands conformity[3]. they rarely exert effort to gain acceptance. instead, they focus their energies on producing novel ideas that challenge the status quo. their motivation to set themselves apart from the rest leads to more creative outcomes[6]. however, when it’s time to execute, productivity suffers relative to teamwork[3]. unless they leverage the increased productivity of teams. hence, a belonging mindset is more likely to kill creativity, but here’s how to hack this to our benefit.

here’s the most valuable insight from these studies. let’s consider a group of people that value belonging over individuality. there’s a way to influence (prime) each person in this group to value individuality instead[3]. those influenced proved to be as creative as of those who naturally value individuality[3].

whether you’re a creative or lead a creative team, your best strategy is to first stimulate the need to be unique to boost creativity. then, to execute the idea, you switch tactics by stimulating the need to belong.

how you prime (influence) for either creativity or productivity is a world of its own, but here’s a practical way to get you started.

to boost creativity, follow these steps:

  1. prime the need to individuate using stories and videos that celebrate the individual and focus on the ‘I’, ‘my’, and ‘mine’. use these pronouns in your communication with team members. encourage non-conformity and embrace uniqueness.
  2. create a context where a creative feels separate from the group. exclude this individual from team efforts. encourage individual work and competition amongst creatives.
  3. after the creative phase, celebrate the individual. this rewards and reinforces individuality. it motivates individuals for future individual projects.

to boost productivity, follow these steps:

  1. prime the need to belong by using stories and videos that celebrate collaborative efforts and focus on the ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’. use these pronouns to encourage conformity.
  2. create a context where all team members feel that they belong to one group. encourage teamwork, accept and involve all individuals relevant to the project. frown upon competition and individual achievements. all achievements belong to the group.
  3. after the productive phase, celebrate the collective achievements of the team. this reinforces the feeling of belonging. it motivates the whole team for future collaborative projects.

ants outnumber humans a million to one[7]. they would rule the world if they could strategically switch mindsets between creativity and productivity.

forward to a friend »

this post is from ‘edition 08’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


•1 Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.
•2 Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 475- 482.
•3 Kim, S. H., Vincent, L. C., & Goncalo, J. A. (2012). Outside advantage: Can social rejection fuel creative thought? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. 10.1037/a0029728
•4 Knowles, M. L., & Gardner, W. L. (2008). Benefits of membership: The activation and amplification of group identities in response to social rejection. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1200-1213.
•5 Amabile, T. M. (1983). The Social Psychology of Creativity. New York: Springer-Verlag.
•6 Sharkey, W. & Singelis, T. (1995). Embarrassability and self-construal: a theoretical integration. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 919-926.
•7 Holldobler, B & E. O. Wilson (2009). The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 5. ISBN 0-393-06704-1.


tunnel vision vs. imagination: a designer’s cheat sheet

January 23, 2014

by william choukeir

an uncontrollable cough wakes you in the middle of the night. you look to your side and see your wife coughing too. it takes you a moment to realize that you’re inhaling smoke.

​without thinking twice, you turn on the lights and run to your son’s room. you pick up his limp body and make it to the front door. you turn the door handle and pull. nothing. the smoke is building up. the flames are getting closer. in your panic, you keep turning the door handle repeatedly, harder and harder. you don’t know if your son is unconscious or sleeping. you start violently kicking the door.

if this was any other uneventful morning, you would’ve been relaxed. without thinking, you would’ve already known that you lock the door every evening and keep the key in the door for easy unlocking.

a negative environment can make simple tasks difficult [1].
a positive one can make difficult tasks easier [1].

in psychology, this is called ‘affect’: when something has an emotional impact on you [2]—not to be confused with ‘effect’. affect influences thinking, which in turn influences behavior [2]. fire causes panic, which interferes with our problem solving ability, which interferes with the simple activity of unlocking a door.

can your workplace be slowly killing you?
what happens if you’re living or working in a space that has a subtle negative affect—stressing on ‘subtle’. it definitely isn’t enough to cause an all out panic attack, but it has been proven to contribute to increased stress [3]. a scientific study tracked 60 employees for almost 2 years and determined that this negative affect is big enough to increase the risk of heart disease [3].

what if a change of workspace costs you your creativity?
at least 3 separate studies show how spaces can help us become more creative. spaces and colors influence ‘how’ we think [4,5].

spaces that create a negative affect reinforce ‘depth thinking’—AKA ‘tunnel vision’. it helps us focus on small details and repetitive action [4,5].

spaces that create a positive affect reinforce ‘breadth thinking’, imagination, and our ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated subjects [4,5]. a study shows that individuals surrounded by positive affect can make 25% more connections than those in a neutral space [5]. no wonder Google, Apple, and Pixar use positive affect to drive innovation.

here’s a quick cheat sheet on factors that contribute to both positive and negative affect. don’t be fooled by its simplicity. this isn’t your cliché pseudoscience color theory. these are gathered from the proven results of independent scientific studies [1,3,4,5]. use these responsibly.

positive affect

positive affect can make difficult tasks easier. positive affect boosts imagination, creativity, and problem solving. anything that contributes to relaxation promotes a positive affect; namely:
• high ceilings, large spaces, and openness
• blue colors, sky, and open views to the outside

negative affect

negative affect can make simple tasks difficult. boosts attention to details and promotes tunnel vision. can be beneficial for straight forward and repetitive tasks that require sustained accuracy. a subtle balance needs to be achieved to promote focus without paralyzing the individual; setting a house on fire would be considered overkill. use the right balance of the following to create spaces that individuals can visit when focus is required:
• low ceilings and closed spaces
• red colors and their association with danger

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1• Emotion and design: Attractive things work better. Norman, D. A. Interactions Magazine. 2002; ix (4): 36-42.
2• Does Negative Affect Always Narrow and Positive Affect Always Broaden the Mind? Considering the Influence of Motivational Intensity on Cognitive Scope. E. Harmon-Jones, P. A. Gable, T. F. Price. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2013 August; 22 (4): 301–307.
3• Effects of the Physical Work Environment on Physiological Measures of Stress. J. F. Thayer, B. Verkuil, J. F. Brosschot, K. Kampschroer, A. West, C. Sterling, I.C. Christie, D. Abernethy, J. J. Sollers, G. Cizza, A. H. Marques, E. M. Sternberg. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2010 August; 17(4): 431–439.
4• Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances. R. Mehta, R. J. Zhu. Science. 2009 February; 323(918): 1226–1229.
5• The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing That People Use. J. M. Levy, R. J. Zhu. Journal of Consumer Research. 2007; 34(2): 174-186.


3 big questions to ask about your audience

January 5, 2014

by william choukeir

“who are you trying to reach? if you say […] everyone, i’ll know you’re likely to reach no one.” —Seth Godin

imagining the world from the eyes of your audience helps you design the right emotional experience for them. so how do you start imagining? by understanding your audience and their worldview. here are questions that the casafekra team uses for that purpose.

a combination of these questions form part of the briefing phase when providing a furnishing solution for a public space. when the casafekra team empathizes with the end-users, they create an experience that keeps those users coming back. using this approach, casafekra has successfully maximized the revenue generated by those public spaces, for multiple contract projects. adapt these questions to your project:

who are you trying to reach?

not everyone i hope. what’s their worldview? what are they afraid of? what are they afraid of that they’re not aware of? what do they desire? what do they desire that they’re not aware of? what motivates them internally? i.e. member of something important, sense of control or independence?

what’s their lifestyle like?

where do they spend their time? what do they expect from their surroundings? what objects do they use and are surrounded with? what are the textures, materials, sizes and proportions? what’s familiar to them? for each ask: ‘what emotions does this trigger in them?’

what’s the one big emotion?

what’s the one big emotion you want to trigger in your audience? and what are the smaller invisible emotions? what’s the story you want them to tell themselves? what the story you want them to tell their friends?

this post is from ‘edition 05’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:



a day in the life of naim: how casafekra designs for social interaction in public spaces

December 19, 2013

by william choukeir

social interaction levels

naim wakes up to the soft touch of his wife.
she whispers in his ear: ‘i love you.’

that’s the 1st of four levels of social interaction. physical and emotional interactions take place in this 1st level: our intimate space.

after having breakfast with his wife and two kids, naim takes the bus to work. his friend always joins him mid-way, and sits right next to him. ‘is your daughter doing better?’ naim asks. before naim could get an answer, he notices a head from behind listening closely. irritated, he turns around and gives the intruder a piercing look. the intruder backs away but it’s obvious he’s still listening.

that’s the 2nd level of social interaction: the personal space, where only select friends are allowed in, or if interaction is mandatory, as we’ll see later. the more intimate the space, the more people resist intrusion. just like naim resisted the intrusion on his personal conversation. people resist even more, intrusions on their intimate space, to the extent that society made these intrusions illegal (i.e. sexual harassment.)

when designing for a public project, ask: do i want to design for interactions within the personal space? if yes, how?

as soon as naim gets to work, he notices movement in his office. a thief-like shadow is searching through his desk. with an aggressive voice he shouts: ‘what do you think you’re doing!!’

the four levels of social interaction are affected by three supporting concepts. territoriality is one of these concepts. naim feels ownership over his office space. territoriality provides people with privileges, security, and identity. people define their territory by personalizing it.

ask: how can i use territoriality to make customers feel privileged? how do i invite them to personalize their space and define it? customers are often willing to pay a premium for this feeling of security, identity, and privilege.

naim and the thief are standing so close that they can hear each other’s breath. naim’s eyes are wide and his nostrils flared. with a mumbling voice, the thief explains herself: ‘it’s … my first day here, and i was just … looking for a stapler. i’m so…rry.’

this interaction takes place in the personal space, yet naim and the new employee aren’t friends. if interaction in the personal space is mandatory, people can tolerate interactions with non-friends.

ask: if i choose to invite personal interactions within my project, how do staff members interact with these customers with minimal intrusion on their personal space? customers hesitate coming back if their personal space feels intruded on repeatedly.

as time passes at the office, naim gets increasingly bored. as a distraction, he decides to browse content unsafe for work. when he was laying out his office years ago, he positioned his desk to observe the door, and also made sure that no one can watch him from behind. private browsing… check.

these are built-in measures that people use to feel safe. people naturally like to avoid being watched without being aware of who’s watching. it’s for this same reason that in restaurants, the seats along the walls are the first to go, and people in open spaces sit next to bushes or trees.

ask: how do i leverage this behavior to give customers a safer more pleasant environment?

finally, lunch-time comes and naim can stop pretending to work. he sits with 3 colleagues around a table in the cafeteria. a heated discussion starts about yesterday’s poker game.

that’s the 3rd level of social interaction: the social space allows purely social contact on a temporary basis. this is most common level of social interaction in the food and beverage industry.

ask: how can i maximize the spaces that invite this level of social interaction? do i also want to invite personal interaction, or just social interaction?

as the discussion intensifies, a co-worker visits the table to say hello. everyone tenses up from the inside, the conversation abruptly stops, but everyone acts nice with fake smiles.

this intrusion happened in the social space, and although it is tolerated, it’s still uncomfortable. everyone else in the cafeteria belongs to the public space, which is the 4th level of social interaction. in the public space, people don’t expect to have direct contact with others.

ask: how do i design to minimize staff intrusions into the social space of customers? how do i make groups of customers feel like everyone around them belongs to the public space?

after work, naim gets on a bus towards his favorite pub. this time the bus is too crowded. he’s standing up next to a sweaty guy who’s holding the rails above his head. everyone is constantly bumping into him as the bus keeps stopping. naim is cursing under his breath.

crowding is the second of the three supporting concepts. the first one was territoriality. crowding happens when personal space and territoriality are intruded on. although crowding is generally uncomfortable, there are special cases where it’s considered ‘part of the fun’.

ask: does crowding help or harm my concept?

naim gets to the pub, and his friends are already there. it’s too crowded. girls repeatedly brush past him as they dance. the air is thick, and the music is too loud. he has to sit too close to his friends to be able to talk. he’s having the time of his life.

crowding can be fun if it’s part of the expected experience. this is the third supporting concept: environmental expectations. what people expect from their environment shapes their experience. space, acoustics, and lighting can control group dynamics.

people tend to sit facing each other. if you want them to sit side by side, make the table bigger. if you want to them to sit closer to each other, make the space smaller, or dim the lights, or pump up the music. if you want them to spread out and talk louder, make the space bigger and the lights brighter.

people constantly expand or contract their own intimate, personal, social, and public spaces based on territoriality, crowding, and expectations. don’t leave these interactions to chance. now, you have the building blocks to intentionally design these interactions into your project or concept.

after having a wild time at the pub, naim gets home, takes off his clothes and gets into bed. he wraps his arms around his wife and whispers in her ear: ‘i love you.’

…my favorite level of interaction.


this post is from ‘edition 06’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


– Interviews with the casafekra design team
– Edward T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday & Co., 1990)
– Leo A. Daly, Design Guide for Interiors (Washington, DC: US Army Corps of Engineers, 1997)
– Gautam Shah, Behavior in Interior spaces (Ahmedabad: CEPT University, 2013)


does emotional intelligence make you a better designer?

November 14, 2013

by william choukeir

customers buy on emotion and then justify with logic.
—F.C. Buck Rogers

when you see the image above, what do you feel? those of us who can identify with what the woman is feeling are on the right track.

emotional intelligence does make us better designers. a substantial body of research supports this. better designers understand the relationship between their designs and the resulting emotional experience 1. that’s because the emotional connection to a design is what engages us in the first place 2. then we attempt to rationalize those emotions.

the iPod was not the 1st mp3 player, but it was the 1st to be delightful. —Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

so what is emotional intelligence really? in short, at the center of emotional intelligence is empathy 3. and empathy allows us to understand another’s feelings, and be able to re-experience them 3. empathy allows us to understand another’s point of view 4.

design thinkers can imagine the world from multiple perspectives—those of end users and customers (current and prospective.) they can imagine solutions that are ‘desirable’. —Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

unfortunately, some are better than others at using emotions to solve design problems 3. this doesn’t mean that those with lower emotional intelligence are doomed at design. there’s good news for them. it seems, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned 3.

there are now proven steps to improve this skill 5. the very first step is knowing what the 8 core emotions are. all remaining emotions are a mix of those core emotions 6. each emotion is a button. the more we can identify the nuances between emotions we’re feeling, the better we can trigger them through our designs.

knowing which button to press might not make our job easier. but it sure helps us identify what’s important from all the noise.

you might look at the image of the woman above and feel something negative. or you might notice a more specific emotion, like sadness. if you’re more emotionally aware, you might identify more subtle emotions like disappointmentshameangerremorse and, just maybe, hope. if you identified those more subtle emotions, then you’re on the right track.

this post is from ‘edition 05’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:

1• Chitturi, R. Raghunathan, R. & Mahajan, V. (2008). Delight by design: The role of hedonic versus utilitarian benefits. Journal of Marketing, 72-73,
2• Brown, T. (2008). Harvard Business Review: Design thinking, 84.
3• Salovey, P. Yale University. Mayer D., J. University of New Hampshire. (1990) Emotional intelligence. Baywood Publishing Co. Inc.
4• Hogan, R. (1969). Development of an empathy scale. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology. 33.
5• Emotional competence framework, Consortium for research on emotional intelligence in organizations. (1998). eiconsortium.org
6•  Plutnik, R. (1980). A general psychoevolutionary theory of emotion, in emotion: theory, research, and experience, Volume 1. Academic press, NY. 3-33.


don’t know where to start or how to move forward? try an elastic process.

October 17, 2013

by william choukeir

continued from: stuck in this maze? 3 ways to get unstuck.

often you can’t see a solution to your problem. sometimes you can’t even see the problem. here i share with you my own elastic process that has been refined over 15 years of experience as a creative. this has worked every time for those i’ve shared it with and myself. why elastic? you’ll find out towards the end. these are the four steps that i loop through until i’m unstuck:

  1. you immerse yourself in research around the subject at hand. you go far and wide reading seemingly unrelated topics. interviewing people often helps. you take “unorganised/uncategorised” notes of everything worth remembering.
  2. you structure, categorise, and “hand-write” all your notes in an organised manner. you do not structure according to the sources. this is vital because it allows you to make new associations. the goal here is to internalise the information to the point where you are able to teach it from heart. that’s why hand-writing is important. you learn faster when you write.
  3. now you relax, you close your eyes, you go for a walk. this invites your mind to make new associations, ask new questions, observe from different perspectives, and visualise things without using language. often this happens while showering or driving. now whether a breakthrough happens or not, you move to step 4.
  4. you involve a 3rd party; one or more people. you explain the breakthrough, or you share your newly acquired knowledge. you observe reactions, and listen. often new doors open. if you get the reactions you’ve been looking for, or if you get a breakthrough, great. if not, you repeat from step 1 using newly acquired questions and insights.

if you stop reading here, you’ll still benefit from this process. but if you really want to get the most of this, every single time (even if you’re tight on time), then here are the key guidelines:

  • if you don’t trust that the process works every time, then it won’t work. that’s because when you don’t trust it works, you won’t go through it in multiple cycles.
  • this process works because your mind naturally goes through this process anyways; whether you’re aware of it or not. i’m only bringing it to your awareness. so the next time you’re stuck, instead of getting frustrated and anxious, you relax and trust the natural process of your mind.
  • for your mind to make associations at the speed-of-thought, it needs to have all the information already stored. if you don’t internalise the information, you’ll find that everything slows down to the speed-of-reading. at that speed, you’ll miss most of the associations. and we all know that at the core of creativity is our ability to make unheard-off associations.
  • with this process, time is elastic. if you only have a couple of days, you go through this cycle multiple times a day. you set a time limit for each step (i.e. 60, 15, 60, and 30 minutes respectively). then you repeat… here’s the other extreme. if you have weeks, you go through steps 1 and 2 in one day. you skip a day for step 3. and you do step 4 the day after. then you repeat… It’s very important that steps 1 and 2 not be separated. you’ll want to structure and categorize the information when it’s still fresh. otherwise you’ll forget a lot of the connections you’ve already made. keep in mind that spending the whole day on steps 1 and 2 is not very productive. so even if the process spans weeks, you set a time limit for each step (i.e. 1-3 hrs daily).

this method is process oriented. the next time you’re stuck, you know exactly what to do. instead of focusing on the end result, start with step 1. you now have an elastic process that works every time.

p.s. bookmark this to come back to it when you feel stuck. post your questions in the comments.

this post is from ‘edition 04’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


stuck in this maze? 3 ways to get unstuck.

September 15, 2013

by william choukeir

you probably know exactly what it feels like to be stuck in a maze. not because you’ve actually been in a maze. but because you’ve had a similar experience.

it’s the feeling of choosing between left or right when you have no idea which is a dead end and which is salvation. it’s the feeling of reaching a dead end, and realising that you’ll have to backtrack and take the other path. it’s the feeling of having to do this over and over again until you spot—if you’re lucky—the light at the end of the tunnel.

we all get stuck sometimes (or often) working on a project. more so when creativity is involved. it’s very likely that one of these three reasons is the culprit:

1 | do i lack autonomy, mastery, & purpose?

best-selling author Dan Pink spent years looking at the latest scientific evidence regarding productivity. he found a pattern. the ‘carrots and sticks’ approach for motivation doesn’t work. he could not find a correlation between money incentives and performance improvement. instead, Dan Pink isolated three components that, together, are the driving motivator for the most successful people we know. people who never seem to get stuck.

  • autonomy. are you the master of your own choices? do you feel ownership for your work and how you do the work?
  • mastery. is the task at hand too easy or too hard? the ideal task provides just enough challenge to keep you engaged on the long run.
  • purpose. do you feel part of a cause larger than yourself?

there’s a fourth hidden component. money. ‘but you said…’
yes i did. here’s what i mean. money has to be enough to stop you from thinking about money. cool yes?

2 | do i have a fear of finishing?

author and time-coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders (voted ‘amazing woman of the year’) isolated four culprits behind our fear of finishing.

  • do you believe that nothing is ever good enough to be finished? if so, think: there’s a cost to doing everything ‘perfectly’. sleep, relationships, finances, and your emotional state will suffer as a result.
  • does finishing seem like you’re closing-off options? unfortunately, if you’re not finishing your current phase, you’re also keeping yourself from moving forward on new options. try: writing down all the possibilities and opportunities that’ll open up once you finish.
  • do you loose excitement before finishing a project? abandoning a project at 99% done adds up to 0% benefit. try: partnering with a persistent person.
  • does finishing feel like submitting yourself to criticism? unfortunately, if you hide your work for too long, you also open yourself up for criticism for not delivering on time. this happens, Elizabeth says, when you feel like your external success determines your internal worth. try writing down: ‘i’m a good [fill in the blank]. if they don’t like what i submit, i’m not a failure. i’ll take a step back, educate the client on how to give feedback, and focus on what needs to be done next.’

3 | don’t know where to start or how to move forward? try an elastic process.

often you can’t see a solution to your problem. sometimes you can’t even see the problem. here i share with you my own elastic process that has been refined over 15 years of experience as a creative. this has worked every time for those i’ve shared it with and myself. why elastic? you’ll find out towards the end. these are the four steps that i loop through until i’m unstuck. full essay here.

…so, if stuck ask:

• do i lack autonomy, mastery, or purpose?
• do i have a fear of finishing?
• do i know how to move forward? (next edition)
and because casafekra can help too, here’s a 4th one for designers:
• do i have ‘post-inspiration syndrome’?

post-inspiration syndrome?

while creating a concept, designers often search online and offline for furniture and seating inspirations. that’s the fun part… then comes the time to execute, and concerns pop up:

is there a local supplier that has the chairs we found online? will they have matching tables? what if they’re above budget? what about quality? if we can’t execute our ideal solution, we’ll have to compromise. our client loves the initial designs, he doesn’t want alternatives. i wish we won’t have to rethink our seating solution. and so on…

that’s ‘post-inspiration syndrome’. as design firms are crawling through this maze, projects are piling up, deadlines are at risk, and clients are getting impatient. this process lacks autonomy, mastery, and purpose. and the money compared to the man-hours involved is not nearly enough — there’s an alternative.

don’t let your team search for seating inspirations. give casafekra your unfurnished plans, unfurnished perspectives, and mood boards. casafekra provides a seating solution that matches your vision and concept, free of charge. they cover furniture layouts, seating arrangements, specifications, warranties, logistics, execution, and everything else that keeps you from advancing your business. on top of that, they back everything up with their ‘3-pillar guarantee‘: on-time, on-budget, and touch&feel guarantees.

dozens of design firms now have an unfair advantage over yours because they’re benefiting from this service for their hospitality and F&B projects. i recommend you benefit too because it won’t cost you a thing, and there’s no contract nor commitment from your part. cure your ‘post-inspiration syndrome’ and fly over the maze with casafekra. find out how here.

p.s. bookmark this to come back to it when you feel stuck, or discuss in the comments here.

this post is from ‘edition 03’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:



what is creativity anyway?

August 15, 2013

by william choukeir

‘the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.’
—Occam’s razor.

there are hundreds of explanations out there for creativity. we believe the simplest is often the right one. Michael Mumford suggests that creativity is both ‘novel’ and ‘useful’. yet there’s a catch.

if it isn’t actually produced, then it’s just imagination.

so when in doubt, ask yourself:

  1. is it novel?
  2. is it useful?
  3. is it a figment of my imagination?

practical application:

GREEN collection | made in italy
GREEN collection  |  made in italy

novel? check.
useful? check.
imagination? nope, very real.
CLOUD SOFA | concept
CLOUD SOFA  |  concept

novel? check.
useful? check.
imagination? oops.


this post is from ‘edition 02’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:



are you truly a self-employed creative?

August 15, 2013

by william choukeir

‘many people believe that great designers get great clients. It’s not true. it’s the other way around.’
—Seth Godin, 14 times best-selling author.

even if you’re self-employed, you’re still ’employed’. you have clients (think: bosses), and being creative and innovative is risky for them. the hospitality industry hates high-risk scenarios. this kills your creative freedom. but there’s a sure way around this.

Seth Godin presents a deceptively simple workaround. yet, what’s more important is understanding why this workaround works. Seth invites you to imagine telling a client: ‘i want to do something cool […], and if it works i’ll get the credit, but if it doesn’t, you’ll get the blame cause you said that it was ok.’ who takes that deal?

instead, what if you flip that around, Seth suggests. if you take responsibility for your creative endeavours, you’ll be given responsibility. if something goes wrong, take the blame. but if your creativity becomes remarkable, give the client the credit. do that a few times, and they’ll come back to you for more. that’s because they have a choice about who to work with. and they’ll always choose the one who makes them look good.

absorb the added risk that comes with creativity and reflect the credit because you get that rare creative-freedom that few design professionals have. arm yourself with this unfair advantage and you get to do ‘your’ work.

you could either have your work speak for itself, or you could take the credit. it’s very hard to have both—at least until you’ve shown the world that your creativity comes without added risk.

being a truly self-employed creative ‘is’ possible:


this post is from ‘edition 02’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below: