3 posts tagged Uniqlo
Neuroscience and creativity are having a moment right now. Humans love to control things, and if scientists can tell us how to control creativity … that would be great, right?
But There. Are. Problems. Using neuroscience to explain creativity is like asking an endocrinologist to tell you whether or not you’ll like sushi. The endocrinologist can definitely tell you some things about how your body responds to sushi, but he doesn’t know much about whether or not you enjoyed it.
Jonah Lehrer’s new book, which was given a couple of coveted pages in the Wall Street Journal, illustrates the dilemma. Imagine: How Creativity Works reveals its bias in the title. We’re gonna break this motha down, see? We’re gonna get it to do our bidding.
Like most of the new breed of “creativity” books, Lehrer rests his case on what scientists conclude from watching lots and lots of people’s brains encased in MRI sensors. Few, and often none, of the people involved actually make things for a living, which makes them susceptible to snippets of fascinating and ultimately useless information. One classic study recently found increased activity in parts of the brain associated with creativity after a couple of drinks. So be sure and show up to work at your design firm a little hammered, K?
Take Mr. Lehrer’s “10 Creative Hacks” - a list of 10 largely irrelevant things to do to rev up your creativity. This sketchy list includes such gems as “Get Groggy”, which is based on a study (that makes it important!) showing increased activity in the “creative” areas of the brain when people are less alert. Another is “Daydream Away”, noting that people who daydream score higher on creativity. I doubt working creatives need much motivation to daydream, although they have lots of experience working groggy. Typically, work quality goes down in that state, because having an interesting thought and getting it up and out of the brain in useful form are 2 different things - as anybody who’s tried to crank up early after a long night can attest. So, Mr. Lehrer’s “creativity hacks” are super-helpful for anyone who can put together a productive life while a little hammered and sleepy.
The real, working hacks to creativity aren’t silliness like Lehrer’s list (another item advises to paint your room blue, because, you guessed it - a study!). The real hacks are the things that have worked for creatives for years - things like physicalizing and finding new context for old materials. Things, in short, you don’t need your brain watched to find out.
Yuki Katsuta, owner and lead designer for Uniqlo’s immensely successful clothing line, does things like put pictures of houses on a board and then imagines the clothes for people who live there. A recent example was a classic American boat house. Pretty cool, considering he was in China when he did it. And he wasn’t drunk, or sleepy, and his studio walls are off-white.
Scientists get hard over their studies, because they live and die on getting published - not by helping people, per se. So “discovering” something legitimately means everything to them. It’s tenure, a promotion, some props from the academic dean. But creativity doesn’t happen in the isolation of a brain scan. It occurs in a working domain - in Katsuta’s case, the domain of designing clothes. The context of creativity is complex, but watching blood flow through a brain isn’t, at least not in the same sense. It’s complex in a scientific sense, but ultimately, what you’re doing is still … watching … blood … in … the … brain.