Creativity comes from all sorts of places and things that inspire or make connections. David, my friend, who has a problem in his hips, was visiting a friend when he spotted a back frame of a ‘Thonet‘ chair, waiting to be put into the rubbish dump. A trainee furniture designer had been making it for practice and had left it behind. David asked his friend if he could take it and she said yes. On the way back home, as the crowded train swayed back and forth it , he realised that he could put his weight on that frame and it supported him. He also realised that when a bus braked, it was good to put it at the side so that it steadied him. So he put some plastic feet on the two ends and there it was, a sexy curved support instead of the awful grey walking frames used. If he didn’t need it, then he could put it on his shoulders, so it is easily portable. Here is David showing the different ways he uses the chair back.
For me, the main lesson here is that you can have a problem but you need to put it in the back burner of your mind. Then slowly and unexpectedly, you will find a solution in your own ‘Eureka’ moment. Archimedes shouted”Eureka! Eureka!”and ran out naked in excitement after he noticed that the water level in his bath rose and he made the connection that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. Friedrich Kekulé’s theory on the structure of benzene, which proved to be correct, was apparently influenced by the image of a snake eating its own tail. Einstein also arrived at his theory of relativity when he was watching a train move as he sat in another. There are many more examples of such moments- from artists, scientists to inventors and engineers- who have made connections to arrive at solutions. Where 2+2=5 or more!
The other thing I noticed was that it is the creative mind that notices and makes the connections. When David walked in, I was the first person to notice his innovative walking frame. No one else commented or looked at it. David said that on the street, it takes a certain kind of person, to come up to him and ask him about it. So I guess, if you have noticed something creative in another person, then it is most likely you have the same creativity yourself.