Something from nothing

After a bruising couple of weeks battling through rather utilitarian, prosaic tasks that just have to be done, I enjoyed an interview with Apple lead designer Sir Jonathan Ive published in the Telegraph last month (not sure how I missed it the first time round).

Part two of the interview featured a few quotes from Sir Jonathan that reminded me of why I've tried making a living in an - intermittently (let's not sentimentalise it) - creative field. Describing the process of creation he said:

If you step back and you think about it in a very objective way, it is a remarkable thing that as we sit here right now, there's not an idea. It just does not exist.

And you can have this barely formed thought and then suddenly something does actually exist. Then that thought that is so tentative and so fragile normally becomes a tentative discussion and you're trying to bring body to the thought with words. Generally what happens is that's a conversation between a couple of people and is exclusive.

And then you start to draw to try to describe and develop this fragile idea. Then a remarkable thing happens at the time you make the first object, the time that you actually give form and dimension to the idea. In the whole process, that's the one point where the transition is the most dramatic and suddenly you can involve multiple people. It brings focus and it can galvanise a group of people, which is enormously powerful.

I think that captures very well the fragility and excitement of realising a new idea; not just any idea, but something that everyone can see is something special.

It is remarkable that we can recognise something with promise when it finally comes along, that shines against the muddy background of the uninspiring stuff we've already tried and rejected. One moment nothing, then a second later, insight. And remarkable that we can feel our way towards cultivating and growing that seed. It isn't wise, I think, to analyse the roots of creativity too much. Just to regard it as a mysterious gift.