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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Crumple zones

I am getting back into art little by little, but in the meantime I'm blogging about innovations, ideas and marketing over at the CUBED Communications blog.

Thought I'd share my most recent piece, because it's the sort of thinking that can help arty folk too - whether it's coming up with a new angle for a piece of work, or finding new ways to get your art out there.


I have a confession to make.

I'm obsessed with crumple zones - you know, the weak points at the front and back of your car.

See, before crumple zones were first introduced in the 50s, car safety was all about designing cars to be stronger.


Able to take a crash like John Wayne could take a punch.

Problem was - doing this may have helped the car to better withstand a crash, but it meant the occupants took the full force of the impact.

So we should all thank our lucky stars that Mercedes engineer Béla Barényi started thinking passengers would be safer in a car that could absorb the kinetic energy of a crash. Instead of following the thinking of the time and developing a tougher, stronger, more John Wayne-like car, Barényi designed one to be weaker.


The weak points at the front and back of the vehicle would crumple in a crash, absorbing energy to protect the passengers.

Now you may argue that this thinking wasn't a big deal - after all, it's based on high-school physics. But high-school physics had been around much longer than the automobile and nobody else seemed to make the link.

Barényi's thinking was revolutionary.

And here's what keeps me up at night:

What else are we looking at from the wrong angle?

What else are we trying to make stronger, when we'd be better off making it weaker?

What conventional thinking should we be putting to rest? Or at last challenging?

60 years ago, conventional thinking said that to make a car safer, you had to make it stronger.

20 years ago, conventional thinking said that nobody in their right mind would trust someone they'd never met on the other side of the world to honour a sale made over the internet. eBay turned that thinking on its head and paved the way for other micro-commerce sites like Etsy and Amazon's marketplace.

Today, conventional thinking still tells us that you must never bastardise a logo, yet Google's very successfully done the complete opposite. Not only has it not damaged their brand, it's built them a fan base!

And just last week, thought-leader Seth Godin made a post about working fewer hours, not more, to compete more effectively.

So what other conventional thinking should we be challenging?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Like this piece? Think Kate's full of it? Let us know by adding a comment or emailing her here


bengkia said...

Great post. I tried to leave a comment at the Cubed site, but if it didn't go through i will come back and leave one here.

To be concise, i was thinking of tai chi, aikido and shooting handguns, as areas where counter-intuitive thought has been applied.

Kaili said...

What an interesting view point! I'd love to hear other's views too, but thanks for getting the thought process going. Im off to check out your article on cubed.

Flora said...

Very interesting indeed,I came by chance from facebook, I'm so glad I did!!! Your art is amazing!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm always thinking of news ways to go about something I do on a regular basis. Always questioning the "right ways". I decorate cakes at work, and several co workers of mine have developed carpal tunnel from doing so, further needing surgeries and a change in jobs to keep from hurting themselves further. I've only been doing it for a year, and have noticed that my hand/wrist/arm has been hurting. I question if we're doing it the wrong way, if there's a new way to decorate cakes without the pain, or if there are new inventions that need to be made for us to get the work done for us. I hope I can find a new way, because otherwise I'll be looking for a new job!

I was reading an older post of yours, about being in a creative rut. Try cut paper! I did that my senior year of art college, and it was so refreshing and new! It's very similar to building with blocks or Legos, it is tactile. New way of literally building a picture. Try it out, if you're ever in a rut again. And don't just use scissors, get out the Xacto knife, tear pieces with your hands, get creative with it!

I do enjoy your wood painting, very beautiful! And leaving the wood grain to show through was very good advice.

<3 Kt