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How to spread love and influence designers

Beyond innovation which was focus at the recent Creative Company Conference, it is really Love that makes the creative world go round, as shown by the feel-good Gookie cookies.

By Jeanne Tan / 28-05-2009

The Creative Company Conference held in Amsterdam this week brought together creativity and innovation in business.

Creative thinkers and entrepreneurs spoke about their experiences in the art of innovation, or thinking/acting differently: for example, think outside the box, use what's already inside the box, how constraints can be healthy for creativity or brainstorming can be detrimental for innovation. A highlight was world renowned expert on innovation and creativity Sir Ken Robinson (UK/USA) who spoke about finding one's 'element' and challenging the tyranny of common sense.

Most inspiring were the self-initiated projects presented by designers. Michael Jansen (AUS/NL), co-founder of creative agency Nothing Amsterdam spoke about a new real-time user rating system illustrated by a scale of colours from 1-10 which can be installed at events and venues. Visitors can vote on the their experience on the way out or during the event and the results are displayed on a public screen for everyone to follow. Google Creative Lab Creative Director Ji Lee (US/Korea) showed personal and professional projects which often overlapped. His guerilla 'Bubble Project' saw 50 000 blank speech bubble stickers plastered around billboards and street posters in New York. Passers-by were invited to scrawl a message, creating a dialogue between the advertisement and the public. It's now an international project where people can download and print their own speech bubbles to plaster around in their own city.

The winner of the first ever Creative Amsterdam Award was also announced after a Dragon's Den style presentation from the five creative entrepreneurs. Utrecht-based game designers Monobanda took out first prize which was €25000 worth of business advice from different consultants to develop the company. Runner up was the free online music library Tribe of Noise.

But the project that stole the show - and everyone's stomachs - was 'Gookie' an initiative by Amsterdam-based Gummo advertising agency now turned part-time cookie bakers. CEO Onno Lixenberg told the story of how three years ago while in San Francisco, he met John Altman at Baker Beach who was giving away his home-baked cookies for free. "It might have been the weather, it might have been the vibes, it might have been the intense combination of sour cherry and rich chocolate flakes, but they were the best damn cookies we'd ever tasted", Lixenberg said. "When we told John this, he said only one thing: ‘Spread the love. Like, make people happy, man. Take the recipe, bake the cookies, spread the love." With his recipes - Sour Cherry & Chocolate Flakes, Grapefruit Butterscotch and Black Pepper Rose - Lixenberg started up Gookie to spread the love back in The Netherlands. "We decided to do this by combining our two favourite things - making people happy and the environment." Gookie supports Guerilla Gardening projects throughout The Netherlands, and inside each box, there's a packet of flower seeds to do-it-yourself. The decomposable boxes are made from FSC paper. Proceeds of the cookies ('Gookie Dough') are donated to charities (consumers can help decide on the preferred charity) and the Gookie bakery will now function as a rehabilitation workplace for people with mental and physical disabilities. The latest way to spread the love is 'Gookie High School Dropouts' where students who fail their final high school exams can be consoled with free cookies. Just send in a copy of your final mark as proof. It's currently available only in The Netherlands so check the Gookie website for stockists.

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