Keeping it Fresh at Creative Social

It’s the middle of May, a Thursday. It’s raining. I’m walking towards the Doodle Bar in Battersea, on my way to an event called CS Fresh. Principally created to swell the ranks of the Creative Social cohort, the event was two solid days of inspiring talks from fascinating people while sat among peers from the creative industries.

Yet it’s so much more than that. Here’s what I took from it.

That’s Me That Is

To kick things off, the 40 people present shared a piece of work they felt most proud of. There was a huge range of films, websites, apps, projects, designs and ideas. All of it was of the highest quality, and some of it I found absolutely astonishing. Some highlights, for me, included:

Through Clouds and Water

This is a documentary about surfing in the North-East of England. A place where it’s cold and unforgiving. The film was created by Unit9, looked stunning.

We got to see the trailer, which fuelled my appetite for more. Luckily, the entire short was released this week on NOWNESS.

The Singing Sailor

Probably my favourite piece of work from the day was The Singing Sailor. It’s hilarious, yet the message is incredibly serious – somehow it manages to balance the message perfectly.

ABN Ambro Mortgage

Banks are hardly best known for their creativity (except in their accounting), or their humour. So how do you tell an audience about mortgages in an interesting and engaging way? Like this.

Inspiring stuff – all of it. I’ve only included the tip of a very big iceberg.

The Talks

The first proper talk of the day was from In Place of War, the inaugural recipient of the Creative Hero’s Award – one that’s bestowed upon companies or individuals who use creativity to positively impact the world. I’d already spent a good 40 minutes chatting to one of the co-founders, Alison, discussing how I could get involved – an invitation I’ve already followed up on because, who wouldn’t?!

One of the reasons I chose to attend was to refuel my own creativity. CS Fresh didn’t disappoint. We were treated to some frankly awe-inspiring talks over the course of the two days. Particular highlights for me included:

Jason Bruges Studio

Jason came armed with so many amazing projects it’s hard to pick just one or two. Being someone who likes playful ideas, Panda Eyes, which was created for the WWF, stood out.

I also loved the intriguingly named Dichroic Blossom. It was beautiful, and involved cutting edge glass-making techniques and computer software. Words don’t do it justice, so I’ll let the video do the talking.

Bompas and Parr

I’d known of Sam Bompas and his partner, Harry Parr, for some time – after all, they are the kings of jelly. Yet I’d never seen half of the madcap jelly architecture and other outlandish food ideas they’d done. So it was fantastic to get an opportunity to hear a 40-minute talk from Sam about their process, the difficulties in creating one-off food extravaganzas, and the fact that no matter how refined the audience, jelly always gets thrown at some point (usually after 11pm).

This is the duo who made the first sound recording of jelly wobbling

And the same people who conceived of a man-made volcano to cook a steak over lava.

The talk was brilliant, bonkers, and a real feast for the senses. And the jelly was absolutely delicious, too.

Mr. Bingo

I’m fairly sure this chap needs no introduction, but just in case you aren’t familiar with the sweary illustrator, this video will help:

I especially enjoyed seeing more of his Hate Mail project.


As you can imagine, this was the best way to end the first day’s talks.

Start-up Journeys

There was also a chance to hear from new startup businesses at different stages of their journey. We heard from Custom, a new business looking to change the way we shop for clothes.

Next up was Wevolver, an open-source hardware platform that aims to bring makers together and empower them to make their ideas a reality. From robotics to space missions, it’s all on there.

Finally, the Sofar Sounds story – a fascinating peek at how an idea resonates around the world, in this case the fact that the audience at a live music gig is rarely present in the moment and how annoying that can be (talking, texting, generally being a berk). This movement changed that by bringing gigs into an intimate space (someone’s home) and making the whole experience worth paying attention to, and paying for.

I sympathised, as I’m also on my own journey and it was good to hear how they overcame barriers, what services they found helpful and what they’d do differently. Plenty to take away.

It’s not called Creative Social for nothing. There were plenty of opportunities to chat to those attending. Having a ‘No Egos’ rule definitely works: compliments were exchanged, along with business cards, email addresses and Twitter handles – these activities continued throughout the two days, as we all got to know each other better.

One of the best ways to gel was at the evening session on the first day, where we were treated to a bespoke theatrical and gastronomic feast from Gingerline. Somehow I managed to avoid consuming copious amounts of free alcohol so I can attest that both the food and the theatre was worth the wait.

Final Thoughts

So, what can I say about Creative Fresh?

The time spent was just what I needed, not what I expected and everything a two-day event should be – I mean, where else will you start the second day making masks out of paper bags and modelling them for a group photo?

It was most definitely fresh. I am also creatively refreshed – and a proud member of Creative Social. If you get the chance, go. Just remember to leave that ego at home (which is good advice, generally).

Huge thanks go to James, Daniele, Katie and the wider Creative Social crew, and to everyone who attended for making the end of last week memorable for all the right reasons.

(Check out the photos from CS Fresh HERE)


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