Theory of Creativity

Let There Be Light

Funneling broad creativity into a specific mission--beginning an actual project--is the stage that usually overwhelms most people. Moya and Raia take the first step forward in this practical realm with research. "It's about knowing the market you're designing for," says Moya.

"We familiarize ourselves with market trends, the past history of the product, the past history of the trends of that product," says Raia. "We research by flipping through magazines. We pin articles, photos, everything up on the walls and familiarize the whole team with what the history is and what we want to achieve. We really try to fixate ourselves on the future--on, say, what a handmixer would look like 10 years from today."

Moya and Raia's idea of research is far from the dreary reality of homework. It's more of a mindset, in which creative juices flow through daily life. You observe the blending of colors in a sunset, the way a bird uses its wings, the perfect rippling of a wave. When you hit this plane of hyperconsciousness, knowledge happens.

"It's really not so much a sit-down-at-the-library type of thing; it's just about keeping an open mind to different elements, things you can use in your design," says Raia. "You can apply architecture to a product or a product to architecture. There are beautiful things in nature that you can apply to products, especially with form. When we were developing [products with soft, rounded contours, such as the Betty Crocker Handmixer], we borrowed contours off everything from nature to classic cars. And the steelwork, the bridgework in our city, the way it's mechanically fastened, just by scaling it down, it adds great detail to products."

When they feel led to do so, Moya and Raia postpone the hard-core research phase. "Sometimes it's better to come in with fresh ideas and not be affected by what's out there," says Moya. "So we may start off a project with some brainstorming sessions and rough concepts based just on our initial thoughts, and do the research after. Then we're not jaded by what we've already seen."

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Theory of Creativity.

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