Author Archive

+, -, ?

Posted in 05.Creativity and Design on February 12, 2010 by Justin Ratcliffe

Environments for Creativity

The authors argue that creativity is something achievable through practice and experience. Through these experiences, knowledge of the materials – affordances and constraints – is gained and insight into creative products is exposed. I argue that creativity is not something simply attainable through practice. There are other variables involved that are not referred to by the authors – the most mentionable being personality and randomness. A key factor in what defines *someone* as creative is their personality – not an in depth understanding of their domain. People think differently which, as we’ve been told since kindergarten, is what makes us unique. Consider a class of 20 students graduating from an MFA program. If you asked them whether they rank their peers’ creativity, I’ll predict that they respond with “frequently.” This is a relatively controlled environment – these students have spent countless hours practicing within their domain, learning their materials, and gaining valuable experience in thinking differently. Why then, would one be considered more creative than the other? Because she stayed up 1 hour later than her peers sketching? No. It’s because she is fundamentally different.

The Creators’ Patterns

This article was interesting but certainly not to be taken as truth; as indicated by the author when discussing the limitations of the generalization of these seven “case studies.” Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if more instances of his assumptions are found in more examples of the lives of creative individuals. Having a curiosity for their particular domain at an early age seems like a reasonably safe assumption as does having a drive for probing exhaustively into that domain. I found this to be a light and thought-provoking article and inspection into what correlates we can find with creative and influential individuals.

Design Protocol Data and Novel Design Decisions

The authors bring attention to the hundreds of design decisions made by the team ¬†while only about ten were used to provide “something exceptional in the design.” My question is regarding the correlation of failure and creativity. As Gardner mentioned, creative people go through difficult times. Is someone defined as a creative revolutionary only once they’ve prevailed through hundreds or thousands of failures? If so, what is the correlation between randomness and creativity? At some point in everyone’s live, I’m sure they are told that they are “creative;” is this just something random that happens to all of us? Is creativity something that can be fostered at all? Can someone be consistently creative?

Stenciled Circular Bookcase

Posted in 04.Cardboard Furniture Presentation on February 3, 2010 by Justin Ratcliffe

When we began brainstorming, we were thinking of traditional furniture that would utilize the integrity of the boxes; we envisioned coffee tables, side tables, lamps, and chairs. But we wanted to come up with something a little more creative and we ended up on very different ideas; our favorite was a bean bag chair. We were going to use as much shredded cardboard or paper to make the most comfortable fully recyclable seat imaginable. We began to imagine ourselves lounging on these plump bubbles of paper cuts and realized that we would love to have a bookcase to match. We had seen a cardboard coffee table created with a stencil and layer technique so we considered this approach for a bookcase.

To brainstorm shapes that would allow us to store books, we began drawing and sketching. We had about 15 sketches and finally decided on the semi circle/orange wedge design because it was extensible in the case that we found extra time and cardboard.

Instructions: These are directions on how to make a semi circle bookshelf. If you want to double your effort, you could also extend the project to a full circle bookshelf which is mountable on a wall or make one very thick half circle that could be used as a side table and ottoman that holds books.

Step 1: Make a stencil! You’ll want to get as close to a perfect half circle as possible so use a makeshift compass with a string or cable (iPod cables work great!) Decide on two lengths and then give yourself a 1 inch border for the outer circle and a 3/4 inch border on the inner circle so you have four semi circles.

Step 2: Now you’ll need separators for the books to rest on. Create four supports wherever you would like; each should have about an inch border. Once they’re drawn, start cutting!

Step 3: Rinse and Repeat. You’ll use this stencil to duplicate the shape. You’ll need about 40 to support smaller books such as paperback novels. If you would like to make a full circle bookcase, you’ll need at least 80.

Step 4: Admire your work.

Step 5: Get serious and stack your pieces with some glue in between each piece.

You’re done! Set it up and place your books inside.

Justin & Anna