The Complexity of Creativity


My interest in the Creative Process began with a realization that we all learn at different times and in different ways. This understanding has culminated in a paper called “The Complexity of being human and what it means for Creativity.”

For designers, the concept that the Chakra energies is a complex system mapped onto our minds and bodies provides a rich ground from which to explore issues that are deeply relevant to our practice, such as Empathy and Intuition. This philosophy is not a mysterious, imaginary, or flighty one. It is part of a System of Intelligence available to us all. This System of Intelligence is open and expansive and embraces change. It has built-in feedback loops that allow for new input to affect the overall design and structure of the system, provides analysis of its strengths and weaknesses, balances logic with intuition and encourages connections with other systems. All this capability makes it a great model to incorporate for the development of our design thinking skills.

[Presented at the AIGA New Ventures Conference in Portland, Oregon, and Design Principles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.]

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  • Why, What, How, What If
    The Why, What, How and What if questions of a Creative process occur throughout the Affordances (chakres), although how you do something and what form it embodies is related to manifested / subjective energy while why something should be undertaken and what if it was approached in a different way are more aligned to universal energy.

  • 7th Affordance
    An ability to focus our mind without an attachment to earthly desires or pre-conceived thought is the 7th Affordance. This Power of Awareness is not easily felt or experienced. It requires that we let go of all boundaries—that we live and react without attachments to our previous emotions or the frames in which we define our earthly knowledge. We accept things as they are—acknowledging that many alternate realities and perspectives can exist. We simply become a conduit for universal creative energy and must get out of the way to allow the energy to flow through us so that some universal truth can manifest into form. When we are truly present and aware then we are “In the Zone” so to speak. I believe everyone has felt this in their lives at one point or another and that the context in which it is felt leads you to your life’s creative calling.

  • Power of Mind
    In the 6th Affordance, we find the Power of Mind and the ability to understand existing patterns and systems and imagine new ones. This is also where insights are used to form ideas. Critical reasoning skills —inductive, deductive and abduction—are linked to this Affordance. “Abduction is where the magic happens”, writes Jon Kolko in Exposing the Magic of Design. “Synthesis is an abductive sense-making process”, he adds, “where designers entertain that a hypothesis can come from best guesses because they make sense given observed phenomenon or data and prior experience.“