Creativity and innovation can be developed in different ways and there are many starting points for design and making. A first- hand reference could be photographing natural forms and patterns as they occur outdoors. Structures, such as buildings, and the geometry found in everyday objects can provide inspiration. You could set up a still life of objects, or take a trip to a design museum and feel inspired to design from these sources.
Starting points can also be secondary sources, such as information found on the internet or books about designers (for example Heston Blumenthal – who works with food; Phillip Tracey – a hatmaker works with a wide range of materials including textiles; and Ron Arad – an inspiring designer of furniture who works with wood, plastics and metals). ‘Cooked to Perfection’; Heston Blumenthal
The Fat Duck at Bray in Berkshire is a triple Michelin starred restaurant known for unusual dishes, such as snail porridge, basil blancmange, beetroot jelly and bacon and egg ice-cream. Heston Blumenthal, the chief proprietor, is interested in the science behind cooking, the ‘experience’ of dining to which he applies his ‘molecular gastronomy’ technique. He works closely with academics and has built a laboratory at his restaurant, staffed by food science PhD student. Access to scientific appliances and industrial equipment mean that, for example, liquid nitrogen could be applied to soup, creating soup icicles. Hats, hats, hats: Phillip Treacy
Described as a surreal and sculptural, Phillip Treacy’s handmade hats are feats of craftsmanship. He designs haute cuture and ready-to-wear hat collections at his London studio. Born in rural Ireland in 1967, Treacy found inspiration from the chickens, geese, pheasents and ducks kept by his mother. While still a student, he made ascot hats for Harrods. He went on to meet Karl Lagerfeld, then chief designer at Chanel, and designed hats for him At the time, hats were not very fashionable, but Treacy decided to ‘change that’.
His fantastical creations included a replica 18th Century sailing ship with full rigging, and a castle. He often begins by mocking up the shape in straw, then the hat is steamed and moulded on a specially made wooden block. Treacy also uses more quirky materials for inspiration, including Brillo Pad boxes and photos of faces. He has been designing his own ready-to-wear collection since 1991 and has developed ranges for a number of high street chains, but the heart of his business is still haute cuture hats. Innovation technology: Ron Arad
Ron Arad is one of the most influential designers of our time. The child of two artists, he was born in Tel Aviv in 1951. He moved to London in 1973 to study architecture and made his name in the early 1980’s as a self taught designer-maker of sculptural furniture. He now works across both design and architecture. Arad defies categorisation and could be described as an architect, a product designer, a furniture designer or even a sculptor. In 1981, he set up his own company, One Off, with his business partner Caroline Thorman. In 1989, they started Ron Arad Associates in Chalk Farm Road, north London, in the building they occupy today.
All designers have different starting points for inspiration. The case studies in this chapter show design working in three different areas: food, textiles and resistant materials. First-hand reference is a great starting point for designing