Back in spring, our Creative Director, Richard Sharp, wrote that lockdown boredom may be leading us towards the most creative period since WWII.  


Let’s build on this idea some more. This pending creativity boom could be because we are all, collectively as a global community, in a ‘liminal space’. The concept of liminal spaces has been popular in anthropology since the 1960s. Scholars at Brunel University define liminality as ‘a threshold stage that marks a transition in the life of any person or cohort of people’. That is – the period of ambiguity, difficulty or disorientation that occurs following a period of change, when we are on the precipice of the unknown.


We can and do experience liminality on a personal level during periods of life change or, in fairly rare circumstances, we can experience liminality on a macro, global level. And the distinctly in-between of the current global pandemic is definitely one of those rare circumstances – perhaps the first since WWII.


Can you relate?


The Brunel scholars argue that the design or creative process is much like a liminal space –there is often a period of struggle, confusion, and frustration before coming to a eureka moment when a creative solution appears and starts to click into place. They also note the positive impact of purposely taking people through a liminal space, and suggest that you can do this through an immersive creative or ‘co-design’ experience – to bring about positive outcomes. Changes in self-confidence, curiosity and a greater propensity for new explorations, are some examples they give of the positive benefits.


The concept of the liminal space is one way to explain why therapies like art and music therapy have been proven to have such a positive impact on individuals. It has also been suggested that we can create liminal spaces through changing our surroundings – think the empty store with the lights off, the dancefloor after the music stops and the light comes on – to spark creativity in people.


To thrive again, it seems we must first become uncomfortable and unsure so we can come up with the mindsets, ideas and solutions needed to bring us out of the unsurety and into (in context of Covid-19) a positive ‘new normal’.


So sit back, take it in, and figure out how you can be comfortable in the uncomfortable in-between. The sparks of inspiration lie on the other side.


Co-create with your customers in a liminal space


At SHARP, we have been using customer co-creation for over 10 years to deliver impactful brand and campaign solutions for our clients. And according to the Brunel scholars’ definition, our methodology takes you and your audience participants through a liminal space.


The process involves getting your customers in a ‘room’ (now virtual of course) to work collectively on structured tasks that address your burning business questions. Groups of 20-30 work together to deliver insight and, crucially, come up with creative solutions.


We take groups (who more often than not aren’t creatives) from a place of unknown to a seed of an idea. And the results speak for themselves - from a 22% uplift in awareness for Cotton Traders, to a 37% sales increase for Benenden.


Read more about the process and how it could benefit your brand here. In the context of the collective liminal space we all find ourselves in, co-creation has never been more relevant.

Vickie Button

Vickie Button