Well...in the times we find ourselves now, it has caused me to evaluate what inspiration is and where people find it, especially in our industry considering that in South Africa we aren’t allowed to go outside and experience new spaces or environments which stimulates new thoughts. That is what we got from the designers we asked about how they get inspiration, it was spaces you could experience, and here we find ourselves experiencing the same space for the next 21 days.
So how does one generate inspiration while staying in the same space? Looking at the same things, day in and day out. Shall we start with what inspiration is before we start trying to stimulate it. Inspire (verb): fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. So it is the stimulation of desire to do something, more often than not creative, but it could also just mean to do work. Think of libraries, libraries very rarely inspire people to write a song or to design the latest Kia SUV. Libraries do inspire work though; research, the gaining of knowledge, to understand. I remember when I studied in Malmo, Sweden, way back in 2005, they had one of the top 10 libraries in the world and it was a space you just wanted to spend time in doing work, being productive.
When designing products or furniture you can literally take inspiration from anything. This can also be termed a brief. Back when I was studying interior design, in the early years of this millennium we were asked to design a range of lights from an object we could find at home. I chose my brother’s saxophone, not having a cooking clue what I was doing, but inspiration prevailed in the form of trying to work out how to use what was in front of me to generate something new, but would still remind someone of the original object.
If we distil inspiration, inspiration is change. I say this because change requires one to think or operate differently or with more impetus/effectiveness or efficiency. Just think of the coach in the locker room at half time trying to inspire his team, he isn’t trying to inspire them to paint the Sistine chapel, he is trying to inspire them to be more effective, efficient and yes to a certain extent...creative, to think differently in order to recognise opportunities.
Maybe this 3-week lockdown is like the universe or God or whoever your go-to greater power is speaking to us at half time, trying to inspire us to think differently, be more effective, be more efficient and yes, be more creative or innovative, to play a better game. We kind of have to otherwise, from the writing on the wall, we may lose. So maybe Covid is the inspiration the world was looking for and I don’t mean to sound callous to those who have been detrimentally affected by this virus, but for the majority (for now) we now have the challenge set before us to be better and to be inspired.
Okay. Rad. How do we go about this now? How do we go about being inspired when we aren’t allowed to leave the confines of our home. Well, we take what we know from how we get inspired outside of our home and try and implement them inside that space. Some of the things that have kind of organically happened this past week that have inspired me have been the following:-
- Setting up a home office. Rearranging furniture (Mainly because the WiFi signal was so weak where I had originally set it up) it gives you a new perspective and a freshness, some of you may be experiencing this just because you are at home working instead of in the office. Something I noticed when I used to work from coffee shops, which was a new environment, with different people doing different things. Just subtle changes. Read about the best ones in Durban here. There are some corporate companies that move entire teams around their building every 6 months to generate inspiration, just by having a different perspective.
- Using technology in new ways. Believe it or not, this week was only the second time I ever used a WhatsApp video call, but this week I have had about 8 I think, because I am in one space (close to the router). And you know what, that was kind of cool, it also made me search for new tech that could help, apps and the like and one of the tasks I have set for myself is to learn the productivity app Notion during this time.
- Exploring the extents of your space. On Tuesdays things got a bit cabin feverish for us here at home, so you know what we did...we climbed the roof with 2 glasses of wine and glanced around the neighbourhood, something I hadn’t done before, it was kind of cool...and you guessed it...inspiring.unsplash
- Using what you have. I have been inspired by Tamryn (who works with me and has recently come back from maternity leave) who to keep her kids busy has tasked them with building a ‘waste city’ so they are making cars and building out of cereal boxes, yoghurt containers, toilet roll spindles and the occasional peppa pig sticker and some pink paint. I for one am pumped to see their results. You can follow their progress here.
Following good news sites and accounts. @antidote_za follows @upworthy on instagram and it has been so encouraging and inspiring to watch the world rally. To witness ordinary people make a difference and see how many ordinary people are making a difference, especially @nickheathsport, an out of work rugby commentator that has been commentating everyday like in Tooting. John Krasinki (from The Office) has also started a YouTube channel that reports on the good news in the world. This inspires me to be better and gives me hope.
- Exercise. We have spoken about the benefits of exercise here and how it could stimulate original thinking. So now you can’t go to the gym or surf or even run around the block, but what it has done is inspire a lot of people to exercise differently, I personally have been skipping and trying to do 100 pushups in 8 minutes (I know some of you can probably to that in 2 minutes) and it has been surprisingly easy and a quick way to generate some endorphins. My girlfriend has been doing yoga and I have occasionally been following what @crossfit_shumba has been putting out on the socials.
- Simon Sinek. He is someone you need to follow and he has been posting on YouTube about this time, how unsure he is about it and what is going through his mind to adjust to the situation. He says it isn’t unprecedented, it is a disruption, a big one that affects everyone, but a disruption nonetheless and people/businesses just need to pivot (as they said in FRIENDS).
So if you are feeling a bit flat and not sure how to get out of your funk, do these things, and you can even apply them for when you get out of the house to generate inspiration.