How to unlock your creativity and start thinking like a designer: Exercise #1

February 11, 2013

This is the first article in a series of “Creativity exercises” that I will post. Creativity is considered to be an essential skill for designers, artists, writers, musicians, though it is as much important for people with less “artistic” occupations as well. If you develop this quality, you will be able to offer new solutions to old problems and try new approaches to different situations, which eventually will help you become successful. However my article is dedicated first of all to interior and furniture designers and it is aimed to unlock their creativity.

Terms of exercises:

1. First of all there are no terms or rules of creativity exercises. You are free to interpret, add, remove, restructure, alter exercises the way you want.
2. Don’t start doing exercise if you don’t feel excitement about accomplishing it.
3. Give an absolute freedom to your brain, imagination, feelings. There is no one to judge you at the end.
4. There are no time frames. You can take as much time as you need. Most probably when doing next exercises you will have some solutions and ideas for the previous ones. Don’t ignore them, document everything: every idea is important.
5. Don’t try to do exercises at home only. You might have some thoughts on them while you go to work, chat with friends in a coffee shop or do your shopping in a supermarket. It’s important to carry a small notebook always with you where you can write all your ideas.

Creativity is very much connected to the 3 human abilities: to observe, to make connections, and to look at things differently. The first exercise will involve all three, but mostly it is aimed to develop your capability to make connections between things.

When we look at all great creations, whether it is Gaudi’s architecture or Fornasetti’s beautiful designs,we understand that those people didn’t invent things, they just applied things which already existed in an absolutely different way.  Steve Jobs once said: “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

boost your creativity

To accomplish the first exercise the most important thing is to switch off your “good sense” and give all the freedom to your imagination. Are you ready? Let’s start!

1) Pick up any random item, just write anything which comes to your mind first: e.g. a bottle, a leaf, a flower… It can be also something abstract: a drop of water on your table, a spot on the tissue, etc. It can be ANYTHING. Another option – just take the first thing which comes to your sight.
For me it was…

Yep, that's right - my shoes...
2) Analyze this item at least for 10 minutes, try to see new features that you didn’t notice in the beginning. Try to think about this object from different perspectives: shape, texture, material…
3) Draw this item in the middle of your mind map. Put arrows around it and start to write all things that surround you, e.g. table, chairs, cup of coffee, etc.L1070460

4) Now it’s the time to make connections. Start thinking how you can connect your central object with other things. Maybe it is the shape of this item you can use? Don’t be too literal: you can just use certain features or elements of your object. Record all ideas on your mind map.
5) Draw your creations…

Do you want to see my results?

Shoe Chest of drawers

Chest of drawers





Can you do better? Send me your pictures and I will publish them in my next post.

Need some more inspiration? Watch this presentation on my Slideshare channel:


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