Coffee, Creativity and Design

coffee morning

Melbourne people love their coffee and a strole though the laneways and streets of inner Melbourne will allow you to see people congregating in a hundred different cafés.  This vibrant café and coffee culture is an integral and exciting part of our city.

With this in mind, organising a coffee morning to discuss creativity, design and design thinking was going to be a cinch – as congregating over coffee to meet socially is what us Melbournians do. So, last Sunday 14th September, a colourful group of people congregated at The Huddle in North Melbourne to talk about creative cultures.  No agenda was set, no topic of discussion rehearsed; we simply met.  Over coffee. The only prompt being:

A coffee morning to explore design thinking and creative cultures.

Approximately 16 attendees identified their fields of interest as being teaching, educational design, science communication, maker-designer, adult education, linguistics – sociology, art, architecture, artist – civil engineer and teacher-librarian. This is exactly what we aimed to achieve – to gather together a group of creatives from a variety of professional backgrounds.

For a full report on this event see the Storify post: Creative Coffee – Melbourne #INF536. A meeting of creatives to discuss design thinking and the design of learning spaces.

This initiative was a collaborative effort between myself and Graham Clark; who has also commented on this event at his blog site Clouding Around. I work in secondary education whilst Graham works as a learning portal coordinator in adult education. By working together we hoped to be able to leverage our efforts and attract a wider variety of participants through our individual social and professional networks.

Ideas we discussed: –

  • The concept of a creative coffee meeting as illustrated by the video Edinburgh Coffee Morning.  This reinforced the informal structure of these creative gatherings.
  • Design thinking prompted by Tim Brown’s call for Designers to Think Big. This is exciting stuff!

It was invigorating to listen to people from different backgrounds offer their perspectives on creativity and the design process. One consensus – we are all designers.

  • What is design thinking? Most participants were not familiar with this the idea of design thinking.
  • The growth of maker spaces and SpaceTanks Studio – a creative studio. Check it out – it’s an innovative space.
  • Communities of practise – as exemplified by TeachMeets and creative coffee mornings.
  • Movements that are heading away from traditional education.
  • Concepts of Pedagogy and Knowledge. Questioning what is knowledge in our so called knowledge economy.
  • Architecture and design. Patrick from Thomson Adsett is very keen for us to participate in an online meeting with their education manager .
  • Hybridisation – the process of creating new things.  This idea linked in well with concepts of design thinking where new knowledge is discovered via processes of design.
  • as a creative space. It’s refreshing to see creative educators at work in their communities.


We experienced an exciting morning of rich discussion and those that attended are very keen for the meets to continue. One Twitter post: –

Additionally, a handful of people who could not attend expressed an interest in attending future meetings. In particular, a couple of academics involved in exploring the relationship between learning and space are very keen to contribute. This is exciting stuff!


Our focus remains to bring together people from a variety of backgrounds that are enthused about exploring the design, creativity and the design of learning environments to support modern pedagogies. We want to create a culture where educators learn principles of design from designers and designers can learn about education and pedagogy from professional educators.  This is not just teachers offering PD to teachers or designers working with designers.  It is about a sense of discovery. It is about the surprising need for strangeness: –

As elegantly discussed in this video “When we are at our best, we reach out to people who are not like us, because when we do that we learn from people who are not like us.” and when we meet with people that are not like us we might ask:

What can we do together that benefits us both?

So, watch out for future creative coffee mornings organised by myself and Graham Clark. We are feeling very excited about this initiative and invite you to participate in future meets, however you can.  We are planning to use  the hashtag #ccyarra What do you think?

Please gift me with your thoughts and comments and stay tuned for our next creative coffee morning. Register here to be kept informed of future events.




I have commented on

Heather’s reflective journal



Shannon’s thoughts

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  1. Hello Simon,

    Wow! Well Done! The meeting has covered a lot of ground, that’s for sure.

    The process of Hybridisation and the connection with SpaceTanks Studio, are two excellent reference points. Furthermore, the networking with Patrick from Thomson Adsett could lead to other things.

    This gathering will produce action which will result in a team of people which contribute to “Movements that are heading away from traditional education.”

    Great post!

  2. Hi Simon,
    It was a privilege to be able to attend your inaugural event – I say inaugural because that implies there will be more; after the success of last Sunday I’m glad you plan to continue.
    The success of the event was down to you and Graham and the people you were able to gather together who represented such a broad and interesting array of skills, interests and professional areas.
    You might say ” No agenda was set, no topic of discussion rehearsed; we simply met. Over coffee.” but your gentle leadership of the conversation contributed greatly to its success.
    Well done – I can’t wait for the next one.

  3. Simon – What a success – I congratulate you on the breadth and depth of the participants you managed to gather. Well done on working together – a demonstration of the value of team work to deliver a truly ‘creative coffee morning’.

  4. A wonderful event – have read both this blog and your “storify”! it was inspiring and challenging. I like the fact that two of you were able to collaborate together to create an even more exciting gathering – it’s right at the heart of the “new” ways of working this course is encouraging us to consider!
    a wonderfully broad range of topics covered as well. Love the discussion around SpaceTank studios too – a great direction to take things in!

  5. Simon, well done, this sounds like exactly the way ‘Creative Coffee Mornings’ are meant to evolve – gather the designers together and they will talk/share.
    Perhaps the footy would be dominating conversation this week!
    Thanks for sharing, Margo

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