A few years ago I proposed to a client that we include one of my partners – whose job it was to investigate and capture design and color trends from all over the world – in their next presentation to kitchen designers. In one part of the presentation, my presenter showed images from fashion shows. The images were of women wearing what appeared to be the most outrageous outfits and certainly nothing that the “normal” among us would be caught dead in. One outfit that stood out to me, unless for halloween, was hard to imagine its purpose. What indeed was the motive for creating and parading such an outrageous array of swirling, curling ruffles and feathers? The ruffles were prolific, they were huge and over-blown. It certainly caught the eye. I was trying to understand why my presenter chose to show the outfit since we were talking to kitchen designers, when she explained that the reason fashion designers design these types of over-the-top outfits that we’ve all seen and secretly wondered about (Reminds me of an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel wore buckets on their heads thinking that made them fashionistas) is not to say, here is what todays women should be wearing, precisely, it’s meant to introduce the “notion” of ruffles and feathers. It’s meant to “push the envelope” of design possibilities and plant the idea into everyone’s heads. The resulting fashion that really DOES take off, may be a hint of ruffle on a sleeve or skirt. I get that! This idea of pushing the envelope has always been something I have admired. I admire it when I see a mind blowing ad campaign (Merrell’s new Capra boot campaign I saw just the other day, where users donned the boots debuting at the Sundance Film Festival and took a virtual walk through the Italian Dolomite Mountains), I admire it in architecture (Gaudi), and I admire it in product design and innovation (Apple, of course), and in company cultures (Pixar studios encourages people to create their perfect work space, if you want your work space to be decked out as a pink frothy princess castle, go for it!). Not every company has an appetite for pushing the envelope but what industry wouldn’t benefit from weaving this into their culture? Benefit from exploring new never thought of ways for how people work, or get to work – benefit from designs and products and service ideas never thought of before. The resulting ideas may never get produced or executed but the exercise of pushing the envelop loosens up everyone’s creative juices. And, importantly, sometimes the long term benefit of showing this type of thinking , demonstrating “over-the-top” creativity may be just the thing you need to plant the notion in your customers minds that you have the ability to think outside the box and be a trend-explorer. In my world of marketing and advertising I know I am always on the look out for and want to be associated with those people who are committed to pursuing the as yet, unthought of. The adventure around the corner. So here’s to being and surrounding ourselves with explorers!