Mars, Creaholic business cards are perforated and scored; they have built-in breaking points and invite people to turn, bend, and fold. What’s the idea behind this?
Mars Aeschlimann: These business cards exemplify our philosophy of innovation. At Creaholic we’re convinced: anyone who stays on well-worn paths can’t innovate, at least not disruptively. With this business card, we wanted to show that you have to break with traditions and ignore rules in order to find something new.
How did you come up with this approach?
As a rule, business cards are simple and boring. Therefore, our business cards should be something else—and inspire clients with the joy of discovery, rethinking, and redesigning. Clients can use our business cards to get a glimpse of how we think and work at Creaholic. Our understanding of innovation should be communicated to them right from the beginning—creative destruction; finding new things. Of course, this mindset is how we approach our projects as well.
What does that mean, exactly?
The development of products and services usually follows a few well-worn paths and patterns—it’s based on familiar ideas and practices. However, this is a bad starting point for innovation. You have to be ready to try out truly new things and to break rules. An engineer can calculate how long it will take a stone to sink in water and come to rest at the bottom of the lake. This is the wrong approach. At Creaholic, we think about how to make the stones fly instead.
Can you give an example of this practice?
One of our Creaholicers was very upset that when you take a shower, huge amounts of heat energy simply go down the drain—it wasn’t possible to save that energy. Using our 100-hour rule, he was able to devote his time to focus on this problem, and as a result, a start-up company emerged: Joulia. This brought together know-how from different fields: shower construction and sanitary engineering. Two worlds were combined, the boundaries between them were completely broken down, and an entirely new technology was developed and patented. Until we got involved, the basic idea behind a shower hadn’t changed in hundreds of years, but we were able to challenge that status quo. As a result, Joulia didn’t just win us the Watt d’Or and many other prizes—though that was great. In addition Bertrand Piccard (President, Solar Impulse)—who is strongly committed to innovations in sustainability—gave a TV interview this year where he mentioned our technology as perhaps the most important of 330 sustainable technologies he has identified.
At what point is rule-breaking—or destruction—no longer helpful and just destructive?
Destruction is almost always a good starting point to finding something new. You can see that also in crises, which are always a good breeding ground for innovations, if only because an established structure is destroyed by outside forces and doesn’t function anymore. In these situations people are very willing to think laterally and come up with a completely new design for the reconstruction.
What should we watch out for in destruction?
The timing of the destruction is key. In order for an innovation to take off, good timing is essential. New products and services have to meet a market need. For this reason, at Creaholic we’ve continuously strengthened our team by adding people who contribute and develop precisely this client- and market-centred thinking. We have teams in the areas of Future Trends, Future Thinking and Market Validation. In the end, only about ten percent of all disruptive technologies have a market opportunity. In the last decade, many innovative technologies have arisen in the field of sustainability—Joulia is just one example of this. At the moment we’re also rethinking the concept of packaging; looking to turn it completely inside-out.
Can you go into more detail?
Sadly, no. But I’m absolutely convinced it will be an incredibly exciting and important technology.