On October 16th, All Day Buffet is hosting The Feast, which they’re dubbing a social innovation conference. The Feast will feature 150 of the world’s leading creative mavericks, entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, radicals, and innovators together to inspire action to change the world. Jerri Chou, of All Day Buffet was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding their inspiring event.
What is the main concept behind social innovation?
Social innovation has many related and overlapping definitions, but the main concept behind it is innovations which have a social purpose. That means changing the fabric and DNA of how we do everything from entrepreneurship, to financial, education, policy, and even how nonprofits and corporations function to take into account and result in social benefits.
For us, creativity is inherent in social innovation, since ideas are naturally creative–drawing upon past questions, answers, emotions in developing new ways of looking at the world. Much like the private sector is known for innovation with companies such as Google and Apple, we believe that the social sector needs the same.
Your organization has pioneered events such as Cause for Drinks, which pairs social action with social events. In this context giving becomes almost effortless and fun. In this vein, many of your speakers have developed products that use design to highlight and solve global concerns such as sustainability and clean water. What do you think the role of design is in social innovation?
As Bruce Mau said about his Massive Change Project “It’s not about the world of design. It’s about the design of the world.” Design plays a huge role in how we see and interact with our world. Much of that comes from years of evolution and the signals, learning’s, and innate way we draw from the natural world. But I think the Massive Change project really hits the nail on the head when it says that design has never been more powerful and is “increasingly understood in a much wider sense as the human capacity to plan and produce desired outcomes.” In that sense, design’s role is the literal answer to “how” we fix problems of social innovation. Of course, with that, we have to also understand its and our own limitations, which is really where the thorough exploration of design’s potential is necessary. One of the speakers at The Feast, Elizabeth Johansen from IDEO, will be speaking about “Design for Social Impact” which will go over how design has the potential to create transformational change in underserved and disadvantaged communities.
Do you think that innovators need both good ideas and good design to inspire others?
Not only that, they need good execution. They’re all inextricably linked. One without the other is dead in the water. You can’t innovate without a good idea, you can’t execute a good idea without good design, and good design without a good idea is just something pretty you put on your desktop (virtual or otherwise). And in the end, a good idea or design without action is just a nice afterthought.
What do you think The Feast’s role will be in spurring innovative ideas to solve global concerns?
I think The Feast’s role is really to bring together all these disparate groups who never really get a chance to meet and exchange ideas and learning. Most conferences are so specific. They’re all about corporate social responsibility, or green marketing, which is great. You can definitely learn a lot of specifics at those kind of events but we wanted to cross-pollinate. Nonprofits are coming because they’re interested in hearing Scott Belsky speak about productivity, and designers are coming because they’re fascinated by the scientific theories of Dr. Despommier. There are so many overlapping threads within all the groups represented. This is the chance for them to weave together their knowledge into something really powerful, collaborative and beautiful. And for those who haven’t tried a social venture, it’s inspiring to see what’s possible.
The Feast takes place on October 16th at Scandanavia House in NYC. I hope to see some of you there.