I find artists like chefs to be very creative. Watch the Chef’s Table on Netflix, and you will appreciate the boldness and creativity with which the chefs experiment with high quality ingredients. The episodes that have deeply resonated with me are those where the chef emulates the style of a master. The discipline of masters is almost irrelevant. These chefs select and commit to memory elements that please them, and sooner or later, the revelation of how they may turn this or that ‘tidbit’ to make a delicious ‘dish’ comes. The right fusion of borrowed elements will almost always create something unique. Most creative work builds on what came before. This is the kind of non-linear thinking I want to guide how I create.
Most folks would be pressed to name five search engines before Google. Remember ask.com? Larry and Sergey’s different approach was inspired by academic publishing. Academics build their research on a foundation of citation. The conclusions in research papers cite previous publications to advance the author's thesis. The number of papers cited, the number of papers that subsequently cite that paper back and the perceived importance of each citation is equally as important as the originality of the thinking. Citation is pointing to other people's work as one builds up his/her own work. A page ranks high if the sum of the ranks of its backlinks is high. Larry and Sergey looked elsewhere to create a better search engine.
50% of the Janus Razor prototype testers asked for more grip on the handle and adjustment dial to eliminate the tendency to slip up/down or spin. The obvious choice would have been to default to a traditional diamond-pattern knurling. I wasn’t interested in going down that road.
I prototyped several machined textures which I wasn’t too crazy about. The machined texture for the Janus Razor instantly clicked when I saw a video of how the Tapisserie pattern on a watch dial is made.
I consider non-linear thinking (looking elsewhere) to be very important in any creative endeavor. Experience and expertise begets entrenchment in how one sees the world. Humans are wired to optimize for efficiency, and to seek comfort in familiar routines, places and templates. As Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” So, how am I fighting this natural tendency? I’m coaxing my creativity by deliberately making time to look elsewhere.