"Onika Simon is an unorthodox innovation strategist."
Here's what that actually means:
Advising people & businesses on how to communicate & evolve
Breaking bad habits to enable new methods with better outcomes
Curating teams & uncovering insights that trigger creativity
Directing the reversal of unsustainable systems & practices
Explaining myself using alphabetised lists.
The worst amazing opportunity ever. Fresh from gaining a degree in Philosophy at Manchester University (UK), I was thrilled to be offered a job in New York as an advertising planner. The start date? Monday September 10th 2001. My front-row seat for citywide devastation taught me some fundamental truths about creative industries, corporate businesses and New York life, by observing all three in crisis; people are always expendable so kindness is never forgotten; knowledge counts for nothing if you can't share it; and no one will help build your dream until you start the work alone.
Design is a dance between Art and Strategy. So began a phase of proactive skill grabbing. I jumped from Copywriting to Brand Development to Trend Analysis to Ethnography to Innovation Strategy - and on the side I fell into art curation with friends in Brooklyn. We planned exhibitions around future-based themes, corralled creative connections into making covetable objects, converted unlikely venues into makeshift gallery spaces, auctioned all the artworks to online buyers, and donated all proceeds to charity. The ARTSHO project opened in New York, London, Berlin, Budapest and Istanbul. Through organising these events I learned that art practice hugely enhances the design process but also knew that bringing the two together in a corporate environment would be virtually impossible.
How to start a Spokehub. After 13 years in agencies, I had watched all my favourite colleagues resign and become independent (and also kick-ass) thinkers and makers. So in 2014 I quit my job, moved to Berlin, tracked them all down, explained my aim to bring art practice into design and began experimenting with mixed teams on live projects. We founded a global network called Spokehub, for innovation that requires flexible and interdisciplinary expertise. Future needs are what I know best, having spent half a lifetime studying behaviour patterns and linking them to design opportunities - but now I also come with a hub for collaborative inspiration, insights and storytelling in any medium.
SPOKEHUB is a network of artists, designers and analysts - reinventing the way creative work is made and valued. Art flexes our process, while strategy ensures impact. The result is disruptive design that pushes industries forward.