“I don’t feel inspired right now… I am waiting for that moment of creativeness which will motivate me to start working!” How often do you and I both use this excuse and procrastinate drawing our master plans or writing our first drafts? I personally do it all the time, but more often than not, waiting for that one spontaneous eureka instance does not transform my blank page into an idea. Now the question arises- “where then do good ideas…. Scratch that… where does inspiration come from?” If as a designer I search for inspiration in design galleries, the problem of “copying” instead of being “inspired from” arises. The same goes for all the other parallel mediums such as design websites, especially when you are in a search for an idea that is “unique”. Where then should we as designers extend our inspiration radar?
Speaking from the little experience in the design field that I have had so far, I think it’s reasonable to say that coming up with an idea that is distinctive is related to finding connections. In this context I particularly like what writer William Pomer has to say about creativity. He writes “creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” Hence, what might seem poles apart at first may at second thought appear as having the ability to be possibly one. This brings us to the importance of extending our horizons to genres that may not necessarily be connected directly to our primary field. It is almost ironic though to say that all fields have the potential to find common grounds, especially when we consider the struggle the field of architecture has gone through to stand individual from engineering or art. However, when we gaze at the dynamic statement structures that stand today, it becomes clear that combustion of concepts, disciplines and aesthetics is essential in design today.
Renounced architect Santiago Calatrava’s work and design process emphasizes this importance and depicts its distinctive results. He studies the architecture of the bones, meaning the animal skeleton and then makes it a basis for the structural components in his work. You see references made from the human body, the human eye, seagulls, falcons, etc. These references are not only visual but also structural. Calatrava strongly believes in having knowledge about the “How” of things. In other words, understanding the anatomy and composition that make things move or change. There is always a difference between someone who simply paints a butterfly and someone who studies its mechanism, its character, and then depicts it. The latter are more likely to capture the essence of the butterfly. This is probably why Calatrava decided to go back to school for civil engineering despite establishing himself as a promising architect.
Much like Calatrava, A well-known Pakistani artist- Saeed Akhtar, whom I interviewed two years ago had a similar take on interconnecting genres- related or distinctive. He is a figurative and portraiture painter who also taught at the National College of Arts in Pakistan. He spoke about how he studied sculpture in order to achieve the three dimensional qualities in his two dimensional paintings. He believed that in order to alter anatomy as is done in many of his art pieces, you must first understand how it functions and feels. As someone who always ran away from anything that had to with biology, chemistry or science in general, this makes me want to rethink my approach towards design and creativity. Saeed Akhtar’s ideology once again reflects the fusion of two categories, even if in this case they are somewhat connected.
I would tell you to get out of the box but the truth is that today there is no box. Every field, whether it be design, science, business, or humanities is now one interconnected discipline altogether. Diversity is the norm. Dynamic are the required solutions. Hence, we can no longer refuse to inquire about questions that are not directly related to our field. The interesting thing is, that this notion is no recent concept. It dates all the way back to the Renaissance where Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo stand as embodiments of multitalented. So be curious. This is what will make you generative and enable you to trigger other similar ideas from a single one. This is where inspiration will come from. Indeed inspiration is not the result of a single moment of truth but in fact the product of experiences and knowledge.
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