John Maeda

In Applied Design on September 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm

John Maeda is one of those who is blessed with a child-like curiosity, which is one of the many traits that make him a great designer. He observes and examines everything, big and small, unique and mundane. He takes inspirations from blue tape to sugar cubes to toys to ipods. True, some of his designs are beyond my comprehension, but so are many masterpieces in art history.

I remember once my dear friend and I took a leisure stroll in the Washington Park Arboretum. A woman came up to us and asked, with much excitement, “Have you seen? Have you seen what this tree does?” Our initial thoughts were, “Does it talk?” No, we didn’t say it, but we looked at each other, thinking, “that’s one funny woman!” At this time, I said to my friend, “Hey! She’s just admiring the marvel of nature, unlike us common people who do not know how to appreciate.” I admit, I was not being sincere at all when I said that. In fact, I was being sarcastic. I wish I can apologize to that woman now. This tree that she was admiring is actually quite different from most other trees — it doesn’t seem to have a tree trunk and the branches just grew out from under the ground.

The point here is that keeping an open mind and an open eye is crucial to anyone’s creativity. Consciously look at, observe and study everything, natural or man-made, look for design patterns that we’ve never seen before. We already know about the golden ratio in a seashell, the perfect proportion of man (the Vitruvian Man), the Law of Relativity, and many other discoveries that have been made. Wouldn’t you want to be making your own discoveries? I would. Perhaps you have already been making your own discoveries, but have you celebrated them?

From today onward, keep my mind and eyes open, make an effort to observe and study everything, celebrate every discovery I make. That’s my goal.


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