Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Creating for a New Generation

Since posting about star designer Philippe Starck, I learned that he gave one of those famous TED speeches, where you give the talk of your lifetime in 18 minutes: a great concept and a great series.

So I went to listen to Starck's TED talk. A little frustrating, a lot inspiring. This man looks at the truly big picture in order to design the humblest objects (he has also designed some pretty grand ones.)

To design a toothbrush, he says, you have to think of the mouth and the species the mouth belongs to. And that subject took him back to the origins of life about 4 billion years ago. The bacteria back then had no idea what we would be like today. "Today we have no idea what we'll be in 4 billion years....Every generation thinks he's the final one."

But we're not the final one, and we're still evolving. So, the job of each of us is "to be a good mutant," and help to create the tools that the next generation will need to do their best for those who succeed them. That's what keeps him working, he says, even when he's designing something as lowly as a toilet brush.

It seems to me that that kind of thinking can take the pressure off. If what I'm doing is just taking the next step, then I'm simply playing my part in a group effort. Starck says that we don't have to be geniuses, we just have to participate.

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