From Fast Company’s design outpost: Paddy Harrington, of Bruce Mau Design, talks about 3 Conditions That Set The Stage For Blinding Insight. A bit over-the-top title-wise, but the project (a new website for Studio Gang architects) is interesting, as are the conditions.
Here’s the short version, lifted from the middle of the article:
Surround yourself with both the problem and with inspiration. That means drawing on the field of study itself, and gathering all the information that you can. It also means drawing on inspiring, but unrelated fields. Insight can come from anywhere.
The differences between things are one of the surest ways to find insight. Just as biodiversity is a hallmark of a healthy ecosystem, cogni-diversity (let’s call it that) is the sign of a healthy creative environment. That can come from a diverse set of collaborators, or simply leaving your office and talking to different people at the supermarket in your neighborhood. Seek difference because insight lies in the space between.
As Einstein says, we’re slaves to our pre-frontal cortex. The rational centre of our brain controls the vast majority of our conscious thought process. Designers have always known that you have to stay up really late sometimes to find insight. You have to distance yourself somehow from the world. These techniques are simply ways to escape the tendency towards purely rational thought. The trick is to get to a short hand. If you can calm your thought, the chances are much better that that moment of insight will simply emerge from the deeper recesses of your mind.