Across the worlds of art, entertainment, fashion, business and technology we’ve seen first hand the power of creative thinking to define the future.

Throughout our work with industry leading minds we’ve noticed three key themes have formed the basis of our approach to every partnership — culture, curation & collaboration.

This series explores these themes with the people we admire most through a set of playful exercises.

For our fifth volume of Creative Counts, we spoke to our friend Emilie Baltz. Emilie is an immersive experience director and artist who creates multi-sensory work that fosters curiosity and wonder, “one lick, suck, bite and sniff at a time.”

Best known for her delightful and innovative work in food & technology, Emilie uses food as a medium (and metaphor) for designing experience. With 20 years of work in design, hospitality, performance, technology and new media, her fluency across diverse creative industries successfully embraces both analogue and digital experience. Her expertise lies in using the five senses to tell stories that deepen engagement through embodiment. She has done commissioned work for brands such as the Museum of the Future, Museum of Sex, Outside Lands Festival, Lexus, and DKNY, as well as co-authored, designed, and photographed for the book “L.O.V.E FOODBOOK”,  which was a recipient of the Best First Cookbook in the World at the Prix Gourmand 2013, held in the Louvre, Paris.


After sending us the Creative Counts worksheets, we had a few follow up questions for Emilie:

What about the exercise did you enjoy?

It’s a gift to be asked to reflect on what fuels us, our creative practices, as well as how we build our lives and make meaning. Particularly in the middle of a pandemic, this exercise was a bit of relief.  We’ve been in such survival mode – [during the pandemic] there was a lot of just trying to make life work – and you really lose sight of creativity. And yet that’s just what helps you get through difficulties. For me it was really wonderful to be able to reflect on that and remember how creativity is actually always there, in all parts of my life.

What were some of the things you learned in the past year?

My takeaway from this past year is that creativity has the ability to change our everyday lives in the smallest moments. The pandemic forced me into each day in a new way–ambition stripped away, I was more focused on staying sane and alive. In this case, what does creativity mean? Where does it show up, how is it most powerful? At its essence, [creativity] has the ability to transform. And that’s something I felt really strongly this past year.  Living mostly within four walls, I had to look internally and ask myself what are the tools that I have? How can I find creativity through my family relationships, through cooking, through music, through a game, through cleaning, doing laundry? This became my studio practice in a lot of ways. I learned to (re)look at my daily life as an opportunity for invention.

What are the greatest benefits of collaboration in your experience, particularly over the last year?

I find that all collaborations become a defining factor of the quality of life—both personally and professionally. The way you approach building relationships [can] make or break the quality of your everyday life, and your work… Over the last year, I saw the benefit of collaboration in a new way: by working with others I not only had the ability to make work I could never make myself, but I also learned about other points of view, and other styles of communication. When you’re on Zoom all day, collaboration really comes down to how people talk and structure conversations. I experienced good and bad versions of that and those experiences really helped me see communication as the root of good collaboration. I think I grew both as an artist and a person through that.

What do you value most about collaboration?

When you have something taken away from you, you understand its value. The pandemic forced me to leave New York after 25 years, leave friends and a professional network, and live for almost a year with little access to family or real-life collaborators except my husband and son. That void made me, [and] so many of us, realize the value of collaboration is more profound than we knew. 

It’s been tough to be super creative without being in the same room with people. It’s been tough to develop trust with a remote team that you don’t know. But it’s also allowed me to better understand how collaboration can also be a teacher for better understanding and developing myself. By working with other people, you confront different opinions, new ways of working, and in that there can be friction, but there is also fuel for invention. I think the most valuable parts of collaboration can be in our differences, not our similarities.

Anything else you’d like to share?

A friend of mine said recently, “When the whole thing breaks down, then you can rebuild it; when you’ve got a pile of rubble it can become anything–but, if just a couple chunks of a building come off, you’re just gonna patch it up and it’s still gonna be the same building.” That was inspiring to me because it does feel like almost everything is breaking down – it’s deeply uncomfortable, but it is also very hopeful as we start to see the opportunities to rebuild. 

So, what do we want to do, and how do we want to create it?

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