C-90 is a new design agency determined to challenge the status quo and bring a dissenting, alternative voice to the local creative scene.
Founded by Chris Ritter, co-founder of the design company BLDG (with stints at Crush Republic and Hyperquake) and Emmit Jones, previously creative director of Cosette and co-founder of PB&J, C-90 is on a mission to do work that Jones calls “fearless.”
“We started C-90 (a reference to analog cassette tapes) to get back to the idea of the client having a direct line to the creative,” said Jones, “because that’s how you make better work – through trust and collaboration.”
Their first act of creative insurgency is hosting Fresh Error, a two-day forum Oct. 11-12, that introduces supplemental perspectives in design, art, architecture, fashion, commerce and culture.
According to Jones, Fresh Error “will feature wild thinkers injecting some impudent ideas into creative processes and execution. We think these types of ideas are essential for Cincinnati to grow as a creative powerhouse. We want to be a part of balancing our city’s creative culture. And we want to bring outside voices in. We want to diversify the thinking.”
Jones characterized Fresh Error as a launch pad for the creative community to seek bolder, sometimes risky solutions, in spite of the reality of risk-averse industries, which in Cincinnati leans heavily toward consumer package goods (P&G, Kroger, Kao, etc). He expects to welcome attendees of Cincinnati’s growing creative class of marketers, designers, brand managers and entrepreneurs who seek to pioneer a new path to bigger answers.
“To truly innovate, you have to start with hard and interesting conversations that are outside of the scope of how we do things now,” Jones said, “which is the driving force behind the rowdy creatives and wild thinkers who will be presenting.”
Fresh Error presenters include:
Jiminie Ha, creative director for With Projects Inc., known for her contributions to campaigns for Conde Nast, Surface Magazine and the Harvard Design Magazine. She is also publisher of the serial, limited-edition art book White Zinfandel, about food, culture and art.
Jesse Reed, partner of Order design, and co-founder of the Standards Manual, whose purpose is to archive and preserve artifacts of design history and make them available to future generations.
Joe Hollier, co-creator of The Light Phone, the minimalist phone stripped of apps and notifications that recently released its second generation, flying in the face of the likes of Apple, with a scathing campaign to match.
Clayton Crocker, former design director for Coach and creative director for Calvin Klein, now publisher/creative director of Hearts Magazine, a New York-based editorial fashion and culture publication.
Chris Ritter said the speakers were chosen because they have challenged the status quo. The result has been remarkable creative work. “We want to show off our creative colleagues, outside of this market, who are having success going about their business in a very different way – to inspire and give us all the courage to push beyond our thresholds. It’s led by embracing ideas that are often unseen in CPG (consumer package goods) categories,” Ritter said.
Even the venue for Fresh Error flies in the face of convention, taking place at the home of C-90, inside the Over-the-Rhine bar Mecca, located at 1429 Walnut Street.
Jones said: “We want to make and inspire interesting and brave creative work. And to do this we need to be okay with failure, with ‘fresh errors.’ Nothing good comes from trying to avoid mistakes. You have to be open to other views, especially dissenting ones, to really test the boundaries of what’s possible.”
Ritter added: “Ideas that scare me always make me excited, because it means it’s something new and thrilling.”
Jones said: “Great, culturally relevant work comes from the edges, not the middle. If you start at the edge, you can refine from there. But the great leaps in history never started with the path of least resistance. They began with people who were willing to think wildly. We want Cincinnati to be the place where really cool creative stuff happens. Because why shouldn’t it be?”
Tickets are $75 for the weekend. First 50 students attend free.