I haven’t shared one of my crazy genius business ideas for my Another Genius Business Idea Series in a while. I like people to realize entrepreneurship is more accessible than most people think, since so many people tell me they want to start a company but can’t think of the ideas. This series doesn’t present fully formed ideas, but kernels you could develop into successful companies or projects.
I have a friend who is an amazing designer. He mainly does web design, but I’ve also seen him do great work in animation, print, outdoor, and more. Even fine art. MoMA has shown his work.
Working on his computer is a wonder to behold. It’s like a dance. His hands move faster than you can see. He brings up dozens of programs. If you see him create, say, a logo, over the course of maybe an hour you’ll see all these little fragments of a logo appear, plus searches of other logos for inspiration and ideas. Then suddenly, apparently out of nowhere, you’ll see a beautiful logo appear. Then just when you thought it was done, he refines and refines it, creating alternatives, improving and so on, past where you thought it mattered, but you see it does.
One time watching him work I thought — this work looks just as creative and intriguing as watching people cook on TV. They should make a contest show like the Iron Chef but for designers.
The idea: The Iron Chef for Designers
Most of us have interacted with designers of some sort — print, architectural, 3D, 2D, web, animation, fashion, etc. I hope you’ve had experiences like I have of being overwhelmed with great work.
I think we are universally drawn to beauty and simplicity and would love to see a show that creates it.
To have a contest would create the drama that makes shows compelling. Add to that that, since designers have to interact with clients as well as their internal teams, there would be lots of face-to-face interaction of people with interests at times competing and aligning.
Details, characters, and structure
I find characters and drama between them create the most compelling TV. Structure helps people feel at home even when characters change.
I envision each show starting with a client who wants work done. Each week the client changes, as do their needs. One week it could be a restaurant that needs their interior redone — menus, tablecloths, awnings, waiter uniforms; another week it might be a web startup needing a corporate identity; another week a magazine needing a rebranding; another week an aspiring model/singer creating a web page for herself. You get the idea. There are millions of types of design work.
The client meets with two design teams, which change each week according to the client needs. You see the first meetings to understand the project and later meetings to refine the results. You also see the teams working internally — first trying to understand client needs, then coming up with ideas, later handling the stress and invigoration of approaching deadline.
So you get to see and know various characters under dramatic situations.
Trademark scenes: I suggest each episode has a pair of genius scenes — a montage of the creative process at work for each team, maybe solo work, maybe a team coming together… always something dramatic and unique.
The contest: each episode leads to a dramatic real-life decision where the client chooses which design team to go with (just after the commercial break). You see the exhilaration and defeat of each team. The show doesn’t close there. It follows up with brief interviews of what worked and didn’t. The audience sees more than the teams or client, seeing what rejected ideas could have worked or what didn’t get communicated. What teams gelled and what teams fell apart.
Viewers also get to see beautiful work. They learn how to design better themselves, or how to choose better designers. They appreciate the challenge and depth in great design, as well as the human side.
Value and motivation
Why does each character participate?
Both design teams get exposure. The show will be like free advertising for them.
The client gets free design work, plus free exposure for their project.
Money and profit
Finally, another piece of big value. Plenty of companies are involved with design work, some for all fields — Apple, Adobe, etc — some unique for each field. All of them make natural advertisers and sponsors.
Do you want to do it?
You probably know enough to run with the idea if you want, even without me. I’ve thought more about it, so you could contact me. I also talked to a Director/Producer friend at a production company who was enthusiastic about it. I worked with him on the idea.
But you might as well work with one or both of us in some way. We figured out this much. We’d probably help more than whatever cost of involving us.
If you know an agent, editor, or publisher who might be interested, send them a link or put them in touch.
I want to reinforce that the main point of this series is to show how ideas are easy to create. I see this as an entrepreneurial opportunity. Maybe you’d end up working in tv, but you could make it your project as much as you’d like. You could probably make money just making a series for online broadcast.
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