Limitations: Are they Restrictions that Block or Focus?

If you had access to all the greatest woods in infinite supply, what would you make?

Questions like this are difficult because there really are no boundaries – anything is possible, so you must consider everything.

It is much easier to be productive with limitations that restrict what is possible. Instead of looking at the entire inventory at the lumberyard and wondering what to build, start with a single interesting (or not interesting) piece, and build around it.

Next time you are at a roadblock, pick a particular problem and find a solution. If you’re not sure what the problem is, create one. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of building something and get stuck, I will just make a spontaneous cut and then continue to work it into the design – either by enhancing it or removing it with another cut.

This TED Talk by Tim Harford, and his story about the jazz pianist resonated with me. You can find a list of other TED Talks that I’ve enjoyed here.

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