Head of Interaction and Service Design at @DigitalDWP
30 Designers 1 Question – Where are you most inspired?
In 99% of interviews with designers we will always get asked the same question! “Where do you get your inspiration from?” It crops up time and time again and is usually answered with the same kind of answer which usually consists of CSS galleries, printed material or the outdoors etc.
I wanted to find out where 30 designers are when they feel most inspired. Was there one place where a creative person can be when all of the ideas come together?
The place where I’m most inspired is absolutely bathroom related, 80% shower, 20% on the pot. However gruesome that sounds, the bathroom is like in inspirational supernova.
Inspiration occurs in lots of places, I wouldn’t say I go to one place to get inspiration, but If I get some of my ideas is either in car or at that point just before you go to sleep – and I never get to write them down. (the only times I get to think about things)
I feel most inspired in two places, the shower, most likely because I’m alone with just my thoughts and the relaxing sound of running water, nothing is better at clearing my head. Also in bed at night trying to wind-down from a busy day working, I always keep a notepad and pen on my bedside table as I often have many great ideas or inspiring thoughts when I’m trying to drift off to sleep. Probably because I’m too busy thinking about the days ahead and what I need to accomplish, any quiet personal time is thus my real answer by the sounds of it.
I find a great deal of inspiration when I’m attending conferences or local meetup groups. People tend to be my source of inspiration, and it’s in places where we convene that I have the opportunity share ideas and perspectives on different interests of mine. These places encourage taking action and promote new ideas for my business, my goals, and my design process. The room itself is not important (we’ve met in universities, hotels, churches, even outside), it’s the gathering of people that inspires conversation and discovery.
For me, it actually is ‘where’ that inspires me. A ‘place’ is the answer to ‘where’.
Places contain an infinite collection of elements that define them from surroundings, people, embedded culture which naturally produce moods and tones. So because places inspire me, I don’t have a single location I am at when I am most inspired. In fact, I was so hungry for more amazing things to stimulate thought, that I just moved across the world ( From Australia, to Vancouver, Canada).
I guess in a generality, I’d say that the places I am most inspired are where there is a bustle of new people. People build culture, so the surrounding environment is also very much shaped by the types of people that exist within them. I’m an animator & illustrator, so life is really an essential resource to draw from. Airports, big cities, bank queues; anywhere with a diversity of people does the trick. I’ll often take a sketchbook out with me to scribble caricatures, & take notes about ideas that spring up. The best ideas seem to come sub-consciously, so just being away from a computer or drawing table is enough to let ideas fire around.
It differs, but sometimes I’m inspired in bed. Now I’m not professing to be a sex god. Far from it. I’m saying that being in self-employment makes it difficult to switch off at night, and when I climb into bed I get business / design ideas floating about.
I seem to get my best ideas is when I am brainstorming which is usually in my office, on the desk parallel with my computer desk (a whole 180 degree swivel in my chair). I am most comfortable here and this is usually where my ideas come from. Other than that, it would be in bed when trying to go to sleep.
Without a doubt the best place I get inspired is at a specific place and time.
Its on a Saturday night between 7pm and 1 am and its at my desk. The reason it’s at that time is because one of our radio stations plays my favourite music (deep house music) and they play it well. It’s got to the point where I have committed myself to design on a Saturday between those times and it works every time. Obox Design’s ’09 site, all our themes and all our wallpapers were created during those hours.
So for me its at my desk, but at only at a specific time.
I don’t think there’s any one place that stands out as a big source of ideas for me. But one place I do tend to think about ideas and creative solutions a lot clearer, is when I’m driving on my own. I really love being alone in my car listening to my favorite music, enjoying the occasional good weather and relatively good scenery. I think maybe the because I find driving quite relaxing has something to do with the fact I get a lot of good ideas while driving, and also coming home from a quick drive tends to give me an extra boost and thirst for getting my work done.
That’s a very interesting question. Mostly, I’m sitting at my chair in my office. Not very exciting, I know. Otherwise, I’m often inspired by buildings and architecture. Therefore, I’ll be inspired when I’m just walking down the street and see a window sign or see a building accent. I try and store those ideas away in the back of my head for when I’m in the thick of designing.
My best ideas and inspiration usually comes at night when I go to sleep. For some reason as soon as I put my head on the pillow, ideas start popping in my head. So I now keep my Moleskine notebook close and write those ideas down.
A lot of times it is where I happen to be about 15 minutes after I’ve left the computer. Could be sitting down to have a bite to eat for example. I haven’t been away from it long enough to have “shaken it off” so my mind is still pretty focused on work, yet I’m taking in all the fresh stimuli of being out and about. I think that combination leads to some “ah-ha” moments pretty regularly.
Much to my annoyance, I have inspirational moment a lot of times as my mind is wrapping up loose ends right before I drift off to sleep at night, which can cause sleep problems since I typically need to wake up and at least jot them down so they are not lost!
So where am I when i am most inspired? Wait …let me think … think think think …. hmmm… think think … seems like sitting in front of the computer don’t inspire me.
So wait a moment, i will be right back … just taking a bath………….. ok back. Well that was nice … and i felt some inspiration coming … but damn … now i am sitting in front of this computer again. and. the.inspiration.goes.away.need food! brb again ……………………………………………………………………….
Ahhh that was good. sitting on the balkony, eating a great non healthy sandwich, watching people on the streets…but still no big inspirations.
Hmmm if i think about it there isn’t such a thing as THE place for inspiration. I think that a creative idea always based on the need to make something better. That can happen everywhere. Even at normaly “not so inpiring places”. So if you take a closer look you must be “everywhere and nowhere” – it’s about where your brain can be.
Inspiration comes from imagination. So where should you be when you want to be inspired? Anywhere you want. 🙂
Being outside in the midst of nature with hardly anything man-made around is probably when I feel most inspired, I’d say, but that’s a ‘general’ kind of inspiration about everything; not specifically design. In terms of inspiration that has more of an influence on my actual work, I think I tend to be most inspired when flicking through beautiful books. Books about design, books about anything; I just find book design to be extremely inspirational. That moment – where I’m standing in a book shop, looking at all different kinds of books and feeling completely immersed in all those sources of inspiration – that’s when I feel excited about where that inspiration could take me.
Interesting! 🙂 I’m anywhere normally – i get inspired anywhere… but I guess there are a few recurring places.
When I’m lying in bed in the dark before I go to sleep. I get ideas then I have to keep turning over to type them into my phone as a reminder for the next day.
When I’m out running – today I ran past a shop window which gave me a great idea for a site I’m working.
When I’m listening to music – This can be anywhere. As Soon I put a great record on I think about my work in a totally different way.
When I’m on the train… I guess i get inspired when I’m in a place where I have time to think without interruption.
lol bathroom related was one of the first things that sprung to mind for me too.
Answer: When I’m out for a run; it gives me a chance to get away from work, clear my mind and think about things. Then I’m raring to go once I get back to the laptop. Oh and when I’m at the pub or at friends house having drinks. I always come up with ideas then, but of course they don’t sound as good the next day.
I think for me the meaning of “where” would be perceived as “where is my mind” at that moment. My mind is disconnected from the real world at that moment. I’m in a very relaxed state of mind, only focused on what I’m creating, preferably with my favorite (deep house) music in my ears. That’s when I’m at the office sitting at my desk, in production mode as sort of speak. If I’m not working, or at the office, inspiration comes randomly at any place really. It’s all based on what I see and how I’m feeling at that moment: on my bike in the middle of nature, sitting in a couch in a nice modern looking interior, be surrounded with nice colors,… I’m very easily distracted, and it’s at moments like that that my mind wonders off and I get inspired. It could also be in bed, right before I fall asleep, because at that moment my mind is very relaxed.
I actually find a lot of inspiration while browsing clothes stores, the printed promotional signage and labels are often designed using bright colours and abstract designs that tie into a specific theme. This also changes dramatically between women’s clothes, Summer/Winter fashion as well as the more leisure and extreme sports brands.
Usually right before i drift into sleep, so i keep my iPod Touch and trusty Moleskine on my beside cabinet for those moments when inspiration strikes. Most of my best ideas have hit at this time so it tends to be a time when the ideas flow naturally for me. I simply jot down a quick summary and bullet points of the main idea, ready to be fleshed out the next day.
In the past i said to myself ‘i will remember that in the morning’, and never did which as most people know is just downright annoying. Due to this it’s been a force of habit to always have a way to record my ideas quickly and efficiently.
I find that inspiration tends to strike whenever I least expect it, whenever I’m away from a computer or as far away from a pen and paper as possible! Which usually means that I forget my best ideas. Thankfully since I got an iPhone, the number of forgotten brainwaves have decreased.
Prior to that though, my secondary place of inspiration was when seated on the toilet! I don’t know why, but it’s the place I seem to think most clearly. I usually bound down the bathroom stairs with a million ideas for whatever I’m working on, after washing my hands of course!
I would have to say I am most inspired when at home, even though I do most of my work at the office for the agency that I work for. It just feels more relaxed and I can listen to music (sadly we not allowed to in the office due to phones etc). Something about working on my own in the late evenings with a bit of music ( whatever it be Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, Jay-Z, Coldplay etc) seems to really get the creative juices flowing.
Adelle Charles – www.fuelyourcreativity.com
When I’m at my computer I am the least inspired, since I pretty much sit in front of it all day. Believe it or not I’m usually in the car driving when I get a brilliant idea or think of something new. Often times I also get inspired while outside walking my dogs!
Usually I’m in front of my computer doing other things but with my sketch book. However sometimes I need to go to other places to refresh my mind. I have to say when I’m practicing exercises such as running or surfing, I always get great ideas too. But one thing that is really important is that I have to understand exactly what I’m looking for in terms of target audience and their needs.
I get inspired in many different places. I find the warm morning shower to be a great place, also the boring train journey to work in the mornings is a pretty good too, I always make sure to keep a moleskin in my bag to write down/sketch out ideas. I get inspired in other locations also, these are normally at times when I am relaxing and not really thinking about anything in particular.
Most days its first thing in the morning in my kitchen. As I ponder my days work the ideas simply pop in my head.
I feel rushed some days to get to the computer and get them into form… before my mind looses them forever.
I’d have to go for when I’m driving in my car (alone) and listening to some proper rock tunes.
Lisa Moseley – www.lisamoseley.com
As it turns out my answer is neither weird nor wonderful really! It definitely is an interesting question, and had me really thinking about where I am when I find inspiration:
“For me, inspiration is often random and surprising. However if I had to narrow it down to a few locations I would say in my car, listing to my favorite tunes loud enough to really feel the music. Somehow the time alone, along with taking in all the surrounding sights, colors, people, movement accompanied by bands I really dig gets me inspired to explore new ideas.
Another is when I’m walking my dogs. No music, no talking, just us and nature. Even just small stroll around my neighborhood is enough to break the cycle and allow new ideas to manifest and grow. I do have to say though, inspiration can often be found anywhere and everywhere- most likely when you’re not expecting it, especially when you’re on a project that is exciting and inspiring in itself 🙂
My most inspirational place is a little village in Spain called Caleta. I go there every year and since it’s only had electricity the past 10 years the internet isn’t wide spread down there, which means completely switching off from everything. I normally take down some great books, relating to web design, and it gives me time to think through the past years work and where I’d like to be heading toward this time next year when I’m back again…
Thank you to everyone who got involved in the post! The emails were flying back and forth over a 10 day period and I really appreciate you all for taking the time out and getting back to me.
So… where are you most inspired?
I’d like to hear from other designers / developers or speakers about where they are when they’re most inspired, leave comments below.