I have three main principles that guide my work.
When I was working at Fabrica in Italy, my boss was a British man named Andy Cameron. One day I was excitedly telling him about my ideas, and as I talked he didn’t say much. When I finished, he said, “Jonathan, when you’re considering a new idea for a project, ask yourself if it’s something the Italian everyman could understand.”
I asked Andy what he meant by that.
He said, “Ask yourself if you could explain your idea to one of those old men standing around in Piazza Signori on Sunday mornings. If you can make him understand and appreciate your idea, using only your bad Italian and his broken English, then you will have hit on something very powerful. If you can’t, you might have hit on something powerful, but your odds will be diminished.”
Andy’s lesson became my first principle—that each project should be based on a universally understandable idea.
The next two principles followed from there—that each project should be executed as simply as possible, and that each project should possess an element of play, nostalgia, or beauty to humanize it and bring it to life.
So—a universal idea executed simply, with an element of play, nostalgia or beauty.
Those have been helpful guidelines, but they’re not dogma.
Find what works for you.