September 1, 2021

Tension and delight

Of course, inspiration on its own isn’t enough.   Inspiration needs a starting point, a constraint, something to bounce off, spark to or rebel against.

The maker of this ‘crazy’ quilt was already constrained by the assortment of odd-shaped leftovers they had.  Perhaps also by the limited colours they’d been given.   They decided to impose another constraint  – the nine square layout.  The result isn’t random.  Nor is it purely functional.   It satisfies more than the need to keep warm at night.

Why would someone do this?

We humans like order as much as we like wildness.  We desire both certainty and uncertainty, rules and license.    Pulled by these opposites, we find the tension between them uncomfortable.

So we turn it into the most delightful thing of all – art.   Capturing a fleeting, but satisfying moment of balance between the two.    The ‘right’ balance is elusive, every time we try, the result is different.  That’s what keeps artists in practice.   The ‘right’ balance is also personal.   That’s what gives each artist their own style.

If you want your business to feel human, it needs to be a place where art can happen.

You can’t dictate the artistic solutions.   But you can create the required level of tension, by imposing rules, order and constraints.

If those constraints are designed around making and keeping your promise to the people you serve – if they define a floor, but no ceiling – you’ll have created a safe, exciting and human space for everyone.

Especially you.