'Norm' Wishes You a Very Merry Christmas

We could spiral into a Buzz Feed frenzy or adopt the style of a special festive edition lifestyle magazine feature article and dictate to you the 100 best things in the world right now, or we could resist that and scrap the capitalist temptation to sell to you the norm of what to do and when to do it.

Then again, there have been centuries of thinkers and doers selling manifestos – some might even say The Bureau is perhaps no exception. A more recent example however is 'The Digital Revolution' – as coined by the likes of Chris Anderson and again mentioned in 2011 by Jaron Lanier in his book ‘You are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto’. Lanier suggests that whilst the web is an open platform it is much less a platform that encourages critical thinking and a deep inquisitiveness prior to contribution. Our case in point is when Lanier requests for people to only write a blog post that has taken weeks of reflection.

We find ourselves, especially at this time of year when indulgence, disruption and reflection is perhaps at its most magnified asking, if yet another invitation to consume yet another piece of content is really needed?

Since 2012, and at its core, The Curiosity Bureau’s ethos has deepened its reasons to exist by maintaining an ongoing conversation and an open invitation for people to come together and be curious about curiosity. So how do we challenge 'norm'?

Challenging ‘Norm’

We have each experienced a different kind of 2014, allow us to share with you a snap shot of what has emerged from us being curious about curiosity.

Dr Anton Baumohl has been getting to grips with a deep and serious ontological inquiry into ‘leadership’ and wonders if he must continue his ontological inquiry to assist in his definition of ‘design’ too. Having travelled to the USA for two global business leadership conferences this year Anton reflects on the past few months, “I have been deeply moved and motivated by the outcomes of this year’s group who have taken on the MA in Creative Leadership at Regent’s University… last week there were presentations that tackled real challenges of leadership. I think they are each tackling our need to rediscover the importance of humanity in leadership. Something I see as being a serious need that we can achieve if we are curious about humanity.”

As Tom enters into his second Nordic new year, Tom’s position as Strategic Director for ANTI has seen him travel to share in the refreshing tone of voice of a design and communication agency that is challenging the norm on a global scale. Before Tom took the position at ANTI he discussed at length with Anton their curiosity of Taste and Flavour, and in March 2014 The Curiosity Bureau welcomed the second Associate Aleksandar Taralezhkov to pilot the design of an intimate event in September to take place in London's gritty east-east end.

Whilst working as Designer for Busaba, Alex cleverly orchestrated an intimate setting that brought to our attention the finer details of the Eastern versus Western concept of umami, before bringing together eight people’s personal dishes and facilitating a conversation around each dish. Alex concluded the evening by injecting a somewhat darker twist to the experience, “I wanted to explore the concept of Solylent too and disrupt the evening with the drink inspired by the 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer. …I served the drink and it was greeted with mixed feelings. According to its creator, Soylent provides enough nutrition for a human to survive purely on a brown coloured drink.” Alex goes on to say “It is Ilsa Crawford’s human centered approach to design that made me rethink the future outcome of this project - a graphic and product design inspired artefact, which I hope to design, develop and publish in 2015”

The Curiosity Bureau’s first Associate, Gabija Jankauskaitė returned to London this year to work with a good friend of The Curiosity Bureau, the fearlessly focused founder of Bracket, Alison Coward. Both are particularly excited to be working with each other again and at the same time Gabija is also allocating time to the wonders of SomeWhere an innovative platform that 'enables people to share the way they work - their techniques, values and strategies - so they can find and be found by like-minded people'. It is Gabija’s active curiosity to challenge the norm about new ways of working that she suggests sustains her motivation and momentum, and we’ll be hearing more about the projects she is involved in throughout 2015.

Becca is continuing on a whirlwind adventure with Lancaster University’s HighWire Doctoral Programme, “It has been an enlightening and enigmatic year. I have discovered an intense and exciting way of applying 'curiosity-in-action' - a term I want to test more through my research next year. It has been through engaging my curiosity in action that I have discovered a way of coping with challenging the norm. This is a huge shift in my thinking and I'm excited to discuss this more with those who might be discovering this too."

Watch This …S P A C E

The Curiosity Bureau enters into 2015 a core part of The Rooftop Project in Manchester, a rooftop space gifted to the local community - a mix of 150 tenants ranging from tech-start-ups to creative communication, branding and design agencies. The project is already being coined by Community Organisers as ‘a mass collaborative effort of the Northern Quarter'. To get the ball rolling Becca has curated two events in 2014 and in collaboration with Sheila Bird, A New Leaf and NQ Greening (to name but a few) says, “The Rooftop Project’s focus is a unique approach to co-designing social space. We are connecting people in the building with people in the local area and vice versa, and it is through peoples’ curiosity that the project moves, shifts and takes shape.”

The Rooftop Project can currently be followed on twitter #RooftopProject and #lookupMCR, for more information do contact Becca directly: becca@thecuriositybureau.com

In addition, we are being actively curious about teams. Through an invitation to design an online diagnostic tool that will encourage leaders to be curious about the workings of their teams, the ‘team ecology’ project that began in 2014 will continue into 2015. If you are interested in more information then do get in touch with Anton directly: anton@thecuriositybureau.com.

Free Curiosity

And so, unlike some of the parties this season The Curiosity Bureau is not an invitation-only affair, it is not exclusive and we will not be dictating the 101 of 'how to be curious for 2015'. We think this approach would easily contradict the very ethos of The Curiosity Bureau.

If The Curiosity Bureau did ever become a provider of solutions to being ‘norm’ or living in 'the norm', would we not be hiding from sight the very freedom each of us has of accessing our curiosity?

The Curiosity Bureau therefore feels there is a double meaning to something that is hidden in the noise coming from ‘norm’, we feel that if our curiosity is not ever accessed it is not free.

Skurktur’s first mural, created in Svartlamoen, Trondheim (2009)

At a time of year when we all appear to be seeking to make or break rules and habits, we don’t want to add to this noise, but what we would like to share with the world is an observation from each of our stories and insights - could it be that whilst ‘norm’ sees a need for consuming things we feel a need to be hopeful that trudging on through the treacle (or brandy butter) is worth it, after all challenging 'norm' itself was never meant to be easy.

What if we were to all recognise a need to be curious... and here's a starter for ten... what if we did recognise the need to be curious of humanity?

Wishing you a happy, healthy and curious 2015.

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