The end of ugly

(cross-posted from Medium)

I’m planning a new workshop with my friend Alan Moore, inspired by his new book: Do Design: Why Beauty is Key to Everything

We’ll be asking: could your business be beautiful? And if so, what would it look like? How would it work?

You might at first baulk at this: surely in the rough and tumble of business, wouldn’t beauty be a rather namby-pamby affectation?

Well, we suspect not. Here’s what Emerson said:

Beauty gets us out of surfaces and into the foundation of things.

Pursuing beauty is not an escape from reality, but an intimate embrace of it. When you ask what would make your organisation beautiful, it’s not some fantasy exercise. You immediately notice what’s ugly… often seeing flaws that have gone unacknowledged before, but which are slowing things down, or scaring customers away.

It doesn’t matter if people disagree about exactly what they find beautiful: the process of debating and discussing it will lift our collective sights and help us strive for better things.

Alan and I want this workshop to be beautiful too. We’re using one of my favourite venues, St Ethelburga’s Church in Bishopsgate. It’s almost hidden among the acres of harsh skyscrapers in the city. It barely survived the great fire of London, and was almost destroyed by a terrorist bomb in 1993. Yet it remains an oasis of beauty, a symbol for unexpected finds in unlikely places.

We’re hoping to make this a workshop of delights and surprises. We’ll draw on Alan’s lifetime’s knowledge of craft and design — and my work creating events that allow everyone to create together.

We like The End of Ugly as a subtitle, not because we nurture some idealised view of the perfect future. We offer it as a down-to-earth statement of optimistic intent: as Alan puts it in his book, we want to live off the coast of Utopia. If you’d like to spend a day there with us, you’d be most welcome.

More details and booking information here. Registration is £300 plus VAT. Tell your friends!

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