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Finding Inspiration and Solving Creativity

This is the third part of the ”Life as a Product Design Student’ by Matt Richardson. Also check part 1 and part 2.

Good design obviously isn’t easy to come by. It takes a long, varied process to make sure that you can come up with a “showcase” piece. The design process is always something that is constantly evolving, and is never really a constant. There are always new ways to get round some of the problems that will inevitably crop up.


One major problem that many people will come up with is that of creativity, and this can even affect us at a degree level. Especially when you receive a new project and will have to come up with a research package then it is sometimes nice knowing about where to go.

In my experience, there are many occasions when I have come up with a “creative block.” There are some ways to get round this though.

Recently I had to come up with a new design for a knife. The project was six weeks long, and the first two weeks were all about researching and also preliminary concept generation.

Sometimes coming up with preliminary concepts can then allow me to focus my research and then see whether the concept is viable. This sometime means that it may take me a longer time to get to the final concept, but at least I can get started on the concept generation.

As an initial concept generation exercise the group that I would be working with may visit a pub or the Student Union within university. A nice drink and food sometimes comes up with some interesting concepts. Back to the knife project, myself and two others went to the Student Union and started coming up with random concepts.

One idea that I picked up from my close friend was to always think laterally. This would mean that that you will come up with a word and then think of words that branch off from it. An example goes as such; A project on new wine packaging was given and we had to come up with the usual research and then concept generation. After a couple of concepts being outputted, we started to struggle with output so we then initiated the lateral thinking idea. We came up with a random word, the one we choose was a cow, and we then had to come up with words linked to this. The words we came up with were udders, grass, milking and many more. You may think that these words are extremely untoward in terms of concept generation, but they did actually come up with some concepts.

Udders were used to come up with a system where there are four different types of wine and then these can then be pumped out by hand, in the same way as udders are with milk. It may seem outlandish but it’s still a concept!

It is this lateral thinking that can then provoke some inspiring concepts. I must admit though as more drinks became consumed, the weirder the concepts became. However after reigning the concepts in we could see that there was some viable concepts to use for the project. Even though some of these concepts may seem very irrelevant, the principle behind this can still be used.

Another principle behind creativity is the fact that if you are having fun then you should be able to be creative. When you are sitting in the studio and constantly trying to think of various concepts, then it is always going to be hard to try to break the monotony if you cannot come up with any viable concepts. It may be worth taking a fifteen minute break and letting off some steam. If you are having fun your mind is still working and it still has the opportunity to think of concepts if needed. It certainly has helped me out. If I am struggling with a concept “messing about” and “letting off some steam” does allow me too think of various things whilst not thinking of actual designing.

In summary, if you are struggling to come up with anything creative then there is no real need to worry. There will always be a time when you will be struggling to come up with that creative outburst, but don’t worry. As mentioned above you can see that there are various ways to come up with that extra push.

If you would like inspiration on how to have fun at work, there are some extremely good video lectures on TED.com and even youtube, if you simply search for creative blocks, then you can watch some interesting videos. One of the better videos is a video on the google headquarters, that is definitely one to look out for

Well I hope this has helped and I hope you are looking forward to the next installment

To be continued…

About the author – Matt Richardson is currently a student at the University of Central Lancashire. He is currently looking for a placement and is also behind Eminar Design Co. For a sample of Matt’s work have a look at his portfolio

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