One of the most fascinating elements of a creative studio is the notion of inspiration as process and one of the most common questions we get asked is "How do you come up with all those ideas?". A common way we've found to increase "idea flow" is based on one of the core prinicpals of inquiry - pay attention. David and Tom Kelley describe this mindset, in their book "Creative Confidence", as having a beginner's mind. Closely observing the world around you can often be the key to noticing something new, novel or inspirational
A perfect example of this concept in action is something that happened to SPS's project director, Steve Gennrich, the other day. Recently at the Studio, we've been thinking a lot about reflected light in preparation for a couple of projects. It has us playing with lots of mirrors and lenses. There's plenty of examples of cool mirror and light exhibits at the Exploratorium and one of our favorites is "Sun Swarm", an artist piece by Chris Bell located in the water between our piers.
One thing about being a piece of art partially submerged in saltwater is that, periodically, whatever you might use to secure it in place will inevitably corrode and fall apart. This happened to one of the elements recently causing it to lilt pretty dramatically. Often we simply write up a maintenance note to fix it, one of our rock star techs comes and lashes it back to the pier and we all move on. This time, however, as Steve was walking by he noticed something really beautiful. Because of the angle the mirrors were tilted, from a certain spot on the pier, the light reflecting of the mirrors skimmed across the water producing beautiful glittering streaks in the rhythm of the tide. This chance observation could very well turn into the basis for another large scale installation someday. All because Steve was paying attention to a broken exhibit.
How many examples like this are out there? Inspiration from something that probably shouldn't have been there in the first place?
So there you have it - pay attention! Especially to those things you might consider a "failure" or "broken". Chances are there's something to learn from and, maybe, you'll also get inspired.