Briefly's Unsung Essentials - Design Bureau


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From top: Briefly logo courtesy of Bassett & Partners. John Boiler photo by Michael Jang, David Rockwell photo by Paulina Paczkowska, John Jay photo by Michael Jang.


Briefly’s Unsung Essentials

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

By Amanda Koellner

Tom Bassett has worked with a lot of pretty amazing creative people. Since starting his own company, Bassett & Partners, more than 20 years ago, he and his team have found emotional  insights that lead to disruptive design strategies for ubiquitous brands such as Nike, Microsoft, Jeep, Subway, and more. One thing that has remained constant throughout his foray into the creative world and his brushes with those that inhabit it? The brief.

Filmed over the course of the past year, the documentary details how the likes of Frank Gehry, John Boiler, Maira Kalman, John C. Jay, David Rockwell, and Yves Behar feel about the briefing process. Their responses vary, but one thing is universally agreed upon: the brief is an essential practice that allows the DNA of a project to manifest. “It’s the most overlooked and least romantic part of the process, but so incredibly central,” Bassett says. “When people look at Disney Concert Hall and think how beautiful is, they have no idea what it took to get from the brief to that.”

Beyond gathering opinions, Bassett wanted to take what he and his crew learned from these creative visionaries and use it to inspire people to do their best creative work and raise the odds that the briefing process will lead to that “little golden nugget, simple truth, or insight” that makes a project a success. Because this was the overarching goal, outtakes and interview transcriptions will live online beyond Briefly’s final cut. “Editing this has been the hardest thing I’ve done in the past 25 years,” Bassett says. “But the Internet era means that I don’t really have to answer the question, ‘What am I going to leave on the editing floor?’ You can dig deep on your own time, which is, in a way, our gift back to the culture of creativity.”

Briefly will launch for free online on September 30th.

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