They Key to a Creative Partnership: Don't Argue When You're Hungry

Partnerships are always challenging, but that challenge also offers room to create something that you could never have created all alone.

Partnerships are always challenging, but that challenge also offers room to create something that you could never have created all alone.  In Spark: How Creativity Works, one of the partnerships that I write about is the one between the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown who have worked together and lived together for more than 40 years.  They’re very different people.  

Their work is extraordinary and they talked about the need for conflict in what it is they do. Robert Venturi talks about how a friend of theirs helped him understand that what they did was a kind of mutual critique.  And he said, “I'll come up with an idea and I'll look to Denise to say "All right this is working and this is not and that is how we move each other’s ideas forward.”

And Denise jumped in and said, “Yes and often one of us will come in and say that is not working at all.”  And the first one will say, “What do you mean it’s not working?”  “I think it’s working.”  And then we’ll go away and the next day the person whose work was being critiqued would say, “I hear what you said and here, this is what I've just done.”, and suddenly it’s moved forward.  

And so the willingness to hold that kind of tension is really hard either as a creative partner or as a partner in life, so doing it in both parts of their lives they said part of the way they’ve been able to make it work is not to bring work home.  The moment they get in the car to drive home they’re husband and wife and they try not to talk about work problems and Denise Scott Brown had one of the best pieces of advice I think I've heard about any kind of partnership whether it’s personal or in terms or work, which is don’t argue if you’re hungry, make sure you’ve eaten before your get into whatever it is you’ve got to talk about.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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