When searching for creative solutions to complex problems, I like to absorb content, read, research, and draw possibilities. Then I free myself from the screen, go outside, and let my mind wander with this specific angle in mind. That's usually when I find the answer.
Apparently I’m not alone. In Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Jean Jacques Rousseau is "suggesting that the meditative spirit may always find in nature something responsive to its mood." Whenever I feel that blank-page anxiousness, I like to imagine Rousseau looking for the answer to freedom and individual autonomy in the small nerves of a chestnut’s leaf. That’s when I leave my desk and go for a well-deserved walk.
Moments of wonder are a necessary part of the creative process. I’m interested in what comes out of a mood in which curiosity flourishes because we’re not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. What in the everyday makes one stop and think, “Wô! — I need to capture this.”
One of our goals in creating Dropbox.Design was to build a generous resource for the design community by using our own community principles of craft, joy, experimentation, generosity, and diversity.
We looked for collaborators who notice beautiful details that make the everyday extraordinary, such as a frozen morning under a different light or an afternoon walk that puts a smile on your face.
We asked photographers to transform something everyday into a visual metaphor, to observe their surroundings to find inspiration in authentic behavior. To connect to our brand, the still-life photographs are primarily two colors based on our Dropbox color pairing system. We use the combination of interface and image to complete the color pairing.
When I first saw Mauricio Alejo’s work, a photographer from Mexico, it reminded me of a mechanical engineer who wants to impress peers with their master-craft. This feeling of walking into a boring office, turning the corner, and being surprised by a precise and ingenious act of procrastination. Mauricio used the eye-level vantage point because it gives a more familiar feeling to the image.
On the thesis of inclusivity, Joe Lingeman captured the specific beauty in the everyday using authentic subjects like fruits that have some black spots. Some were fresh, others were aged. The composition complemented Jennifer Brook’s research on inclusivity through team facilitation.
Eli Horn and Lexane Rousseau run a branding studio called Fivethousand Fingers. It was really fun to follow the two of them as they escaped a cold Montreal winter for the photogenic scenery of Spain and Portugal.
This is what Eli and Lexane said about their experience:
"At the time of this project, we happened to be in a medieval village in the mountains of Southern Spain. The concept of 'ordinary extraordinary' took a different meaning in this context than it would have had we been in our studio in Montréal. Rather than trying to extract the latter out of the former, we found ourselves with ordinary objects in an already extraordinary environment. The foreign landscape understandably influenced our approach, but our interaction with the countryside was also altered as we wound back and forth through narrow roads with ladders strapped to our Fiat, searching for a lush unfenced field with just the right light."
Jasmine Clarke, a photographer from Brooklyn, imposed a surreal light of color on top of everyday scenarios setting up a wonderful tension between fiction and reality. She used plexiglass as a creative catalyst: "a sort of temporary graffiti that will live on the image. I see this way of working as experimental, and thus pushing the boundaries of what is expected."
For Zak Jensen in the design department at Harvard Art Museums, his process is about: "collecting familiar images, words and objects and then arranging the stuff in different ways to see what kind of meaning can be made. It’s an explorative process, in contrast to most of my design work where there’s a goal from the outset and thinking comes before making. With this work, thinking and making are happening at the same time, from start to finish—I don’t know where it’s going until it gets there."
Throughout this project, I’ve been fascinated as I peeked into our collaborators’ process and discovered everyone’s unique translation of “the everyday made extraordinary.” The poetry we see and decide to capture in a moment of wander is precious and the beauty is that we are all noticing different things.
Gabrielle Matte creates collections of images. These assortments reveal a respect for diversity, thoughtful processes and good relationships. She is part of Dropbox Brand Team.
Jasmine Clarke is a 23-year-old photographer from Brooklyn, New York. Inspired by the surreal qualities of our waking world, her images play with the tension between fiction and reality.