Creation is an iterative process, and dissociation from the final result is what allows ideas to flourish and grow in new and surprising directions.
I remember exactly one experiment from middle-school science. The class was split into pairs, and each group of students was given a lump of Play-Doh and a paperclip. We were informed each lump contained a different object. Our task was to determine what was inside without disturbing the exterior form. Eventually, by poking the object from enough angles, we were able to make an educated guess as to what lay beneath.
It was our first exercise, intended to illustrate the scientific method. The lesson was that often, the answer we seek is not immediately visible. One cannot observe the inner workings of a cell with the naked eye. The best we can do is fire electrons at it and examine one bit at a time; and what is an electron microscope if not an extremely expensive (and precise) paperclip?
The Shape of Design
It is this image, of awkward teenagers clumsily poking at hunks of repurposed wallpaper cleaner, that springs to mind when I consider how Brooklyn-based designer Frank Chimero must have gone about writing his new book The Shape of Design. Born out of a talk by the same name that Chimero gave at Build, a design conference in Belfast, the book was funded on Kickstarter in early 2011 (in a time before everything was funded on Kickstarter). Why this image? Because one can only understand the theory of design through the rigorous study of its practice -- by observing what others have done right and wrong, and teasing out the common themes.