Creativity and Innovation: Our 5 Favorite Projects from the Past 5 Years

A global celebration of creativity in all its forms? Count us in! Today is World Creativity and Innovation Day, designated by the United Nations to “raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development.” It sounds lofty but consider this—everything around you is a byproduct of creativity. “From artistic expression to problem-solving in the context of economic, social and sustainable development,” creativity can be applied in endless ways. World Creativity and Innovation Day reminds us of that. It also challenges us to think differently, bigger, and more collaboratively.

Montage accepts the challenge. As we strive to problem solve for our clients and society in new and innovative ways, we’re also taking today to reflect on past projects that embody what Global Creativity and Innovation Day is all about.

What challenges is your organization facing? Let’s talk and think creativity about how to solve them together.

Public Art Meets Emerging Technology: Traffic Box Community Connector

When the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined in-person events and activities, Montage set about devising alternative strategies to drive awareness and enrollment in the All of Us Research Program. The client’s goal of recruiting one million diverse individuals hadn’t changed. Our challenge was to help them meet the moment.

Montage recognized that a time characterized by staying home and social distancing provided a rich opportunity to expand on self-guided educational experiences. Our solution? The Traffic Box Community Connector, a public art and education project powered by augmented reality (AR).

The project invited artists in Seattle and Denver to submit designs to transform public utility boxes into stand-alone exhibits about the All of Us Research Program. Montage selected four designs reflecting each community’s diversity and the project theme, A Healthy Future for All of Us. We then formatted, printed, and installed the artwork at 17 high-traffic locations across the two cities.

Applying our understanding of effective digital engagements and the learning styles and languages of the diverse target audiences, we simultaneously conceived and incorporated a 360° educational augmented reality experience. Each traffic box design included a QR code, which, when scanned, launched the AR. The experience walked users through key aspects of their health and why they matter in research, concluding with a call to learn more and enroll in All of Us.

Since launch, the Traffic Box Community Connector project has garnered ~1,000 QR code scans alongside coverage from leading local media outlets in both Seattle and Denver.

Going Guerrilla: Open the Door for Opportunity

The Center for Education Reform stand with one of the freestanding doors to kick off the Open the Door for Opportunity public advocacy campaign

The Center for Education Reform (CER) came to us with a well-defined goal. The nonprofit needed to secure 3,000 signatures backing charter school operations and school choice in Washington, D.C.

To garner strong grassroots support, Montage opted to shake up traditional advocacy efforts. We planned and executed a guerrilla marketing campaign, Open the Door for Opportunity, featuring brightly colored, freestanding, fully functioning doors placed at strategic locations around the District. Each of the doors, designed and vinyl-wrapped by Montage, displayed a compelling fact or statistic about local charter schools.

The doors made their debut at a Washington Nationals baseball game. We then moved them every few days to various locations frequented by key audiences. Montage-recruited brand ambassadors staffed the doors, connecting with more than 6,500 people and exceeding CER’s signature goal by 20 percent in less than two months.

Inspiration Illuminated: Kinetic Affirmation Wall

A man skipping between bullseyes (the Target logo) to light up different inspiring statements on the kinetic affirmation wall.

As the title sponsor of a conference for Black, Hispanic, and Native American young professionals, Target needed their activations to be as functional as they were striking. The retailer wanted to increase visibility as a choice employer of diverse talent, attract prospective employees, and spark conversation. Each of these goals was realized during a multifaceted evening recruitment event.

Montage designed the event around three key pillars in an effective employment search: professional appearance and projection, confidence, and interview efficacy. A pathway through the venue encouraged participants to stop at stations dedicated to each pillar. The showpiece, located in the confidence area, was a kinetic affirmation wall that illuminated inspirational statements based on an attendee’s physical engagement. As participants stepped from one panel to the next, new messages lit up.

Throughout the event, the affirmation wall we designed and constructed literally had people leaping with excitement. Target even chose to have it shipped back to their Minneapolis headquarters for all employees to enjoy.

Find Your Park (Wherever You Are): Mobile Visitor Centers

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Mobile Visitor Center with fold-out exhibition panels and a retractable awning.

The U.S. National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites. But most of them aren’t your average bear. In fact, many are like Sleeping Bear—Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, that is—a 65-mile expanse of Michigan shoreline with abundant natural beauty but few visitor resources.

Having seen our work for the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Sleeping Bear tapped Montage to develop a mobile visitor center that would enhance the experience of entrants and introduce the park to youth and families around the state. We applied our expertise in mobile vehicle marketing and inspiration from Sleeping Bear’s stunning scenery to design, produce, and fabricate a road-ready exhibition highlighting all the lakeshore has to offer.

The mobile visitor center features educational fold-out panels about the park’s history, landmarks, amenities, and diverse flora and fauna and an exterior comprised of visitor photos. A stylish, retrofitted interior and a retractable awning convert the Ram 3500 van into a comfortable site for park ranger activities.

A New Kind of Water Play: Hydrochromic Mural

A child "painting" the hydrochromic mural Montage developed for KinderCare's Watergate Explore + Learn event.

April showers bring families to an open house. Wait…that’s not how the saying goes. The month did, however, serve as our inspiration when planning an event ahead of KinderCare’s new learning center openings in Washington D.C. Montage channeled all things spring and the childcare company’s seasonal curriculum to immerse attendees in an interactive Explore + Learn celebration.

A footbridge and fishpond invited movement and engaged families. Classroom decorations created an educational wonderland. A specially developed menu treated attendees to healthy snacks. The most innovative attraction, however, was an oversized mural.

Montage designed the mural with hydrochromic ink, which changes color when exposed to water. As guests swept a wet brush over the mural, they revealed a vibrant DC-cityscape. As the mural dried, the image disappeared, inviting another curious guest to discover its secret. The mural unleashed the inner child of everyone in attendance. It may have rained that day, but not on our parade.

You don’t have to be an inventor to be innovative. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Everything you do can be a creative act. We hope these five examples of creativity and innovation fire up your imagination and get you thinking about ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

In the spirit of World Creativity and Innovation Day, we encourage you to consider new ideas, make new decisions, and take new steps toward making the world, and your place in it, better through creativity. If you need a partner, we’re here to help.