miercuri, aprilie 26, 2006

How to get out of the box

In his book "IdeaSpotting", Sam Harrison tells us to pay more attention to the things around us, to notice, to barrow, to imitate in order to get the creative inspiration that will bust our creativness.

1. BE A BORROWER One way to find an idea is by looking at how others solve problems.
For example. B.f. Goodrieh wanted to give customers an easy way to put on rubber galoshes. He spotted the answer in a fastener Gideon Sundbach had developed to help soldiers quickly don uniforms. Goodrich refined the idea and installed it in galoshes, calling his device a "zipper" because of its sound.
In the 1950s, last-food restaurants added drive- through to their buildings to lanes to serve car-loving customers. It didn't take long for banks and dry-cleaners to borrow the idea. Today, all types of business use the drive-through concept: Litlle White wedding Chapel in Las Vegas offers drive-through ceremonies, Loma Linda Medical Center administers the drugs while patients sit in their cars.
Do it yourself. List three innovative brands or disciplines unlike your own. Explore their problem-solving methods. What can you use?

2.EXPLORE THE MASTERS FOR MATERIAL When artist Willem de Kooning came to America in the 1920s, he met a young painter named Arshile Gorky. Lacking formal training. Corky learned clas­sical techniques by trying to re-create masterpieces. De Kooning was impressed and borrowed the process. Years later, de Kooning talked of using Rubens in his own work, fusing classical and modern into a new form. What masters of innovation do you admire? Edi son or Einstein? Curie or Carver? Picasso or Pavlov? Dalf or Disney?
List idea masters you admire. Explore their lives, methods and ideas. See what can you can borrow.

3.ENJOY THE ART OF IMITATION Film director James Brooks needed visual ideas for a pool scene in "Spanglish." He didn't have to look very far — he found them in a D. J. Hall painting hanging on his wall. The artwork captures a type of upscale West Coast woman. Brooks told The New York Times, much like the character played by Tea Leoni in "Spanglish." In the movie. Leoni actually wears the shirt Hall's model wore, and the set includes the painting's banana plants and African lilies.
And just as art inspires filmmakers, film inspires designers. Watching "Somethings Gotta Give." David DeMattei. designer for Williarm-Sonoma admired several upholstered headboards used in the film. As an result, DeMattei created five headboarders for the home collection.
Go behind the curtains. Borrow from films, con cert halls, sporting arenas and theme parks.

4.LOOK AT OTHER BUSINESSES Where do you lind ideas for something as commonplaice as aluminum foil? Mark Nielsen house designer for Publix Super Markets, faced this question when he created packaging for the aluminum brand of foil. He went hack in his memory for the night with friends at a Japanese steakhouse. “A waiter wrapped our leftovers in foil, then made sculptures out of the containers," he says. "One looked Goblin from Spiderman. Another was ,a rose. Then I spotted an idea. "I started thinking there was no reason foil sculptures have to be only for leftovers!” he says. "Why not make them for the heck of other things and that ‘s what I began doing.”
He created hand-sized elephants, moose, aligators and turtles. He then photographed these shiny minianures. The result is fun, eye-grabbing pack aging for any everyday product. "Marks concept injected life into what's usually straightforward packaging”, says Cox, director of creative services at Publix. “These sculptures help differentiate our private label, customers give great feedback.
What businesses give you imaginative, energetic service? Explore their ideas and techniques. What can you borrow from restaurants? Hotels? Retailers? Others?

5.OBSERVE AND TAKE NOTE Ideas have short shelf lives. We find them one seco nd., forget them the next. That's why it's smart to capture ideas and insights at the scene of the crime.
Book them before they flee, take notes. Leonardo da Vinci is arguably history' s most famous note-taker. His notebooks overflowed with sketches and notes on nature, art, architecture. Thomas Edison wrote thousands of notebooks with insights and diagrams And today's creative people are equally diligent abo ut recording thoughts and ideas.
Canadian designer Bruce Mau says “ The single most necessary device for me is a notebook. I just plow through notebooks.", Gail Anderson, current SpotCo art director, calls herself a note- taker and language observer. "I love making notes about type I've seen on store signs or on sides of buildings”, she says. Note-taking gives the creative process to time to breathe, says Erin Vvhelan, Heal Simple art director. "I love recording really out-there ideas." she says. "It's so great to start at crazy places and then reach middle-ground, smart solutions.' Eva Maddox, prin cipal of Perkins + Will, has a journal in hand when travels, but not for writing. "I draw, she says. "I draw at least one picture in my journal each day."
Capture ideas while they last. Ideas often show up as views through windows, books and tables. They linger for a moment, then — zap — they're gone. Take verbal and visual notes.

6. BORROW FROM THE PAST AvrokO, a celebrated group of Manhattan architects and designers, knows the genius of borrowing. Especialy after AvroKO's team captured a coveted James Heard Award for creative restaurant design. Designing a restaurant in the city's Lower hast Side. AvrokO paid tribute to the neighborhoods garment hist ory, according to New York magazine. Stanton Social's backlit wine wall was inspired by herringbone fab iric. Banquette pillows are held in place with leather str aps mimicking men's suspenders. Limp shades borrow from the curved patterns of old-fashioned girdles. AvroKO wisely looks over many fences for inspiration . For Sapa restaurant, its designers studied a Vietnamese mounlaintop village where wealthy French families vacationed in the 1800s. Asian wire lanterns. french casement windows and garden urns give Sapa Asian-yet-Parisian ambiance. And for Public restaurant , AvrokO turned to municipal buildings from the 1930s. Decor includes bronze post-office boxes, restroom doors with mail slots, library-card files — even menues made form governmet forms.
Places to peruse for your next idea: Fashion — consider fogot ten styles and patterns. International resorts — bypass today's hot spots and go back in time. Architecture — find elem ents reflecting the brands you work with.

7. DON'T BE A NIHILIST A nihilist (lowercase) thinks nothing has real exis­tence.
A Nihilist thinks nothing exists except that created In his own mind or company — a disciple of the Not Invented here philosophy. Not Invented Here held a smidgen of legitimacy in days of vast research labs filled with engineers at IBM, P&G and other mega firms. Bui that era has ended. More than a quarter of P&G's innovations now come from outside sources. IBM depends on strategic partnerships. Even self-reliant Apple now joins hands with Motorola and Hewlett-Packard. Washington Mutual reaches across the aisle toward retailers to create customer-friendly financial centers.
And products from one industry inspire ideas in another industry. Electric toolhhrushes inspired the idea of the Dawn Power Dish Brush. Ballpoint pens inspired the idea of the Clorox Whitening Pen. Listerine PocketPaks inspired the idea of Hartz Dental Breath Strips for Dogs.
Open minds uncover ideas in hundreds of fertile fields. Have you walked away from Not Invented Here? Or are you still being NIHilistic?

8.OPEN YOUR MIND Hallmark Cards finds inspiration and avoids Not Invented Here hy opening its doors to outside influ­ ences. "We value getting our people out of cubes and into cities," says Scott Orazem, director of design stu­ dios. Hallmark designers, writers and photographers regularly tour metro areas for creative exploration. These trips are purely for renewal and inspiration, says Mark Spencer, program director.
On a Chicago tour, participants explored museums and architecture, art fairs and shops. They dined at new restaurants and hit shows at Steppenwolt The ater. In Washington , a Hallmark group studied history and politics, theater and art. And the Santa Fe tour covered art colonies and Native American culture. People return with broad knowledge and strong inspi­ration. Spencer says. For example, one designer cre­ ated beautiful gift wrap inspired by theater costumes she admired in Chicago ."
In addition to going out into the world, Hallmark brings the world in. A gallery in its Kansas City , MO. headquarters hosts 10 shows a year. Recent shows focused on watercolors, embroidered fabric, antique furniture and a 19th-century photographic process. "Each show runs four weeks. Spencer says. "People from throughout the company visit for inspiration."
Hallmark also conducts an in-house lecture series, pulling in creative experts to share their work and experiences. Recent guests include poets, book design­ ers and poster printers. "We seek ways to open our minds," Orazem says. "We engage with people outside our world to exchange ideas "
What are you doing to open doors and minds?

9.PICK UP THE TRASH More and more people find ideas in found objects "Right now I have little bars of soap piled all around my workspace, says Krisly Moore , art director at Martha Stewart Living. "I get inspired by the packaging — the soft colors, the way words are stamped in the surfaces." San Irancisco-based designer Bill Cahan gathers sidewalk stuff while walking to work an apple core, a cabinet lock, a wood scrap. He piles these found objects in his studio and sifts through them for inspiration. And SpotCo's Gail Anderson finds ideas in salt-and-pepper shakers and bottle caps gathered through the years. "I've also swiped typog raphy from old matchbooks, tobacco tins and create labels, she says.
Designers often use found objects as creative materials. A lamp shade made from Slyrofoam cups. Another made from plastic stir sticks. A dividing cur tain made from discarded tea bags. Joe Duffy, founder of Duffy & Partners, embeds found objects into por traits — oak leaves found on a tree-lined street in Paris , a tribal headdress found in Thailand.
Any random obcct can be inspiring See what you can find — and use — today.

Sometimes you need to move. And sometimes you just need to stay still.Charles Pajeau sat in his living room and, for the first time, really watched his children build small bridges with their collection of pencils and thread spools. Soon afterwards. Pajeau invented Tinkertoys.
Italian designer Antonio Citterio was enjoying movie night at home with his wife and two children. He suddenly noticed they were sealed in a straight line, like passengers on a crowded plane.This gave Cilterio the idea for a new family-seating concept for B&B Italia, a semi-circular sofa shaped somewhat like a banana.
Because she was pregnant. Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola was paying extra attention to baby dresses. Inspired by the smocking on one little girl's frock, she used the stitching to design her Smock ch air for Moroso furniture.Dan Croggin, an unknown New York Cily actor received a nun's habit from a friend as a joke. Crog gin put the habit on an old mannequin and posed it around his apartment — washing dishes, vacuuming and performing other household chores. One day,while watching guests laugh at the mannequin, Croggin spotted an idea. Grabbing a pad, he began creating the play "Nunsense”, filled with silly songs and skits. "Nunsense" and its sequels have grossed more than $300 million in ticket sales and earned Croggin more than $7 million.
Sit and explore where you are. What's happening right in front of your eyes?