Inspiration is everywhere, weaving its way around the world. Floating in the ether.
For anyone and everyone to reach out and catch.
And it’s interesting to see where similar sources of inspiration eventually re-appears, and on what.
How inspirations can begin in a similar place and go on such different journeys.
Through the minds of different people, and appear on different materials, on different products, with different brands and in different markets.
For a recent project, I designed a tropical inspired print to brighten up the days of those who work in healthcare, and their patients.
A print that would embellish the Toffeln clog’s that nurses love so much.
After all, images of nature’s beauty can inspire health benefits, no matter how slight.
My trip to Hawaii in 2001 came to mind.
Tropical flowers felt right.
The clogs launched a few weeks ago.
They’re Clogs with a cause – check out their charitable side.
And on the weekend, you could wear both!
Comfort, elegance, and charity.
A year ago I probably wouldn’t have imagined being so inspired by the art of woodturning.
And then I came across some artists creating vessels with a fascinating and inimitable elegance.
While watching the Loewe Women’s SS24,
this detail and craftsmanship,
the elegant choice of colour,
The music was delicious too.
See the show
“First sentences are doors to worlds” wrote Ursula Le Guin.
They create a sense of intrigue, distinct to any other.
Otherwise why would you read on?
They prod at the door of curiosity.
Inspiring thought and provoking a sensation of what might come.
And while those first few words can inspire desire to read on,
the rest of the story needs to deliver.
There’s a parallel, I see, in designing product.
Integrating an essence that captures the imagination.
More than a USP.
More than a tie-up with celebrity.
It’s about creating a spark.
A spark that delights and delivers.
Something unique that tells a story.
From the thread of ideas to the sources of inspiration,
to the materials chosen and the place of their creation.
To the colours and textures,
and the patterns
To the prices we hold
and the values
If your product had an opening line,
what would it be?
And where would the story go?
All shoes are stories.
And they’re not the only ones.
“Don’t Just Write Words. Write Music.” said Gary Provost
Wisdom from other disciplines and genres can shine a different light.
A shift in perspective can open doors. And create movement.
In Provost’s 1oo Ways to Improve Your Writing, he talks about the rhythm of writing. About the effect of long and short sentences. How they feel. The balance between the two allows the reader to rest. Space. To breathe. And how, in the right moment, you can carry them on a curious journey with detail and texture that raises the temperature, speeds up the heart rate, driving blood through their veins with enough anticipation that they can taste passion on the buds of their tongue.
Before delivering the essence of the message, with a line that illustrates the importance of balance, and rhythm.
A pearl of wisdom with a wider relevance than the written word.
Don’t just design stuff. Design Harmony.
Image originally found via Swissmiss
A walk in the park is easy.
And a walk in nature is good for your health, in a myriad of ways.
Good for problem solving apparently.
Movement helps generate thoughts and ideas.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,” advised Nietzsche.
If you take it a few steps further, literally and metaphorically, and add curiosity to the experience, then a whole world of inspirations opens up too.
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.”- Henry David Thoreau
Inspirations are all around us, it’s just that we often aren’t curious enough to notice.
And nature has inspiration in abundance.
Have you seen the underside of a fern leaf ?
Or looked in to the intimate structure of a dandelion ?
I’d never heard of an Allium until a week ago.
Looking at the leaves on a branch from a different perspective and seeing how they glow in the sunshine with an unexpected vibrancy… fascinating.
INSPIRATION INSPIRES EDUCATION
Designing provides an opportunity to satisfy a need, or a desire, or both – sometimes the desire is the need.
It can also be an opportunity to educate and inspire.
It’s all there if we choose to see.
Being curious, about nature, people or life in general, provokes a sense of understanding, possibly a feeling of appreciation, maybe even a sense of respect.
I recently learned of Terrariums and found the work of Paula Hayes pretty fascinating.
Plants growing in the eco-system of a closed glass container seem to look after themselves?
You might have guessed by now that my fingers aren’t green!
This revelation caused me to wonder …
A terrarium for a heel ?
Cherish the Haworthia Fasciata.
There’s so much that happens in our lives that we often overlook moments and unique inspirations that surround us.
Enjoying the moment, being fully present in the moment, creates a stronger resonance and can inspire ideas that have a greater depth. You come away with a feeling that you’ll remember for years to come.
A few years ago, my friend Mush (not his real name) invited me to a talk being given by one of his friends, Mark (his real name).
Held in Angelina’s in Dalston Junction, Mark shared the story behind the unique inspiration for the Golden Gai* – a bar he’d designed towards the back of the restaurant.
An intimate space immersed in the influences absorbed during his many trips to Japan. In particular, the essence of a provocative and surreal Shinjuku, in the heart of Tokyo.
Casually, deftly, helping to unveil Mark’s stories was a friend of his; Graham.
The chat was interesting – the food was delicious – and I kept in contact, loosely, via instagram.
A few days ago, on his instagram feed, Graham posted a picture of a package he’d received from Cate Le Bon.
A t-shirt, a pin badge and an album.
Curious, I continued to Cate’s page, and tasted a few music clips before being distracted by another train of thought.
SYNCHRONICITY AND THE UNIQUE THREADS OF LIFE
From having never heard of Cate Le Bon just a few days ago, and feeling like I probably should have long before now, to twice in three days.
It would have been rude, and maybe even a little ignorant, to experience these moments and not indulge in more of her work.
Yes, there’s a new album, so the wheels turn.
And I realise it’s not impossible for potential influences in my ‘world’ to refer to similar, and in this case the same, inspiration.
People like us, like things like this.
I guess that’s what’s interesting about the organic side of social media, what’s left of it.
When the wheels turn through such completely different sources – sources that come about through living life, and meeting people – rather than hits from a sidebar, or a pop-up CTA – it has it’s own story to tell. In and of itself.
The story of how it came to be in your life.
Not via an algorithm, but from a section of the very thread of your life.
I delved deeper in to Cate’s world and found a couple of beautiful songs … with a mesmerising melancholic flow to them.
Like many singer songwriters, and creativity in any other medium, Le Bon delves into her own life for unique inspiration. The very essence of life that swirls around her and within her.
Both are on her ‘Reward’ album which was released a few years ago. The cover art of which inspired the boot at the top of the page.
After so much time in lockdown over the last couple of years, the sense of roaming over rocks in the outdoors rather appeals to me.
Textures of a rock face, against the haze of a winter sky, and a highlight of red.
A wise colour to be wearing if you ever get lost in the Cumbrian hills.
And the angle.
The angle of the composition.
I love it.
Whether it’s music produced
or art that’s created.
Whether it’s a story being written …
it’s when your heart becomes elated.
How to find unique inspiration ?
From inside your own life – and it’s all around you.
“You can find inspiration in everything.”
: Paul Smith.
There they were, lying in the middle of the pavement.
With a curious translucence, a glistening surface and a somewhat luminous underbelly; stark against their own shadows.
The angle of the suns rays enhanced this scene of sweet abandon.
A display of discarded jelly beans.
One that I probably wouldn’t have noticed had it not been for my train of thought beforehand.
A few hours earlier, I’d been admiring the colour palette of the collection of wrappers inside the box of Green & Blacks Tasting Collection that I’d been given for Christmas. The butterscotch and the ginger in particular.
When it came to my daily dose of fresh air, I walked around the park. And as I wandered, my mind wondered, back to the chocolates and the colours of their wrappers.
I wondered if the chocolates could be made in the same colour as the wrapper ?
I wondered if then, they might end up looking like jelly sweets ?
This thought reminded me of one of my clients who gifts a pack of jelly sweets with every pair of shoes.
Could they be in the shape of one their shoes ?
Bottega Veneta’s Puddle boot came to mind.
They certainly look the part and would be a great shape for a sweet.
A Jelly Boot ! Or a Jelly Welly ?
Either way, they’d be beautifully packaged.
I walked two laps of the park, leaving via the gate on the opposite side of the park and up the hill. As I reached the top and turned left on to Sydenham Hill, there they were.
The Jelly Beans.
The scene of sweet abandon.
Like a synchronous acknowledgement of my wandering wonderings.
Nietzsche said that “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
I’m not sure my train of thought was quite the level Nietzsche was referring to, but I do recommend finding a sense of joy in the ordinary.
I guess it didn’t really matter who spilled the beans, but being present enough to notice the scene.
And being present enough to be inspired by what’s around you.
“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”
: Thich Nhat Hanh.