habit zero #147

one thing I observed


I took this photo in the Natural History Museum in London, and it should be familiar enough to anyone who visited this overwhelming museum. This display, placed in the main hall of the museum, shows a collection of beetles and butterflies. Each of them might not be that unique or jaw-dropping by itself (especially when compared to other exhibits just a few steps away), but together, neatly arranged as they are, they are eye-catching. They become magical.

one thing I thought of


When multiple instances of the same subject, or subjects from the same family, are displayed together, they become something new. Each specific item seems to become less relevant — they draw their power from the collection they are part of. At least until you become curious and start to explore the details of each subject — details you probably wouldn’t be attentive to if it weren’t for the impact of the collection.

I experienced the same dynamics in another museum — the Tate Modern.

In this series of photographs, Ed Ruscha focuses on swimming pool. If any of the photos had been displayed by itself, it would be a banal capture of a common subject. But, when placed together, as a collection of swimming pools, this series becomes powerful. It is mesmerizing. And after a minute or two of admiring this collection, I was drawn to give more attention to each of the frames — to reveal its uniqueness, to imagine the story behind it, despite the fact they are all just ordinary swimming pools.

What works for art and science can also work for creative problem-solving. Sometimes, when looking at a single instance of a problem, it is hard to come up with an innovative solution. Compiling a collection of similar issues and exploring all of them together can be a game-changer in terms of how you think of the problem and its solution space.

one thing to go


Compile a collection of everyday objects. Capture the objects in the group and reflect on the power of placing them side-by-side.

Apply the same principle when you encounter a problem that calls for a creative solution.


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