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Recombining what already exists
The example that I find to be the most illustrative is the following:
“Think ceramic,” says Thijs Nel, an artist in Magaliesberg near Johannesburg. His art form is ceramics. Confronted with the slums in his vicinity, he got an idea for how to build better houses. Traditionally the residents of this South African township built their homes out of mud, with the walls reinforced with stakes and branches. However, when the termites eat the wood, they create excellent channels for water, and the houses don’t last long in rainy weather.
You could describe Nel’s entrepreneurial idea as follows: Imagine a cup. Turn the cup upside down. Make the cup bigger and bigger in your mind’s eye. Now imagine holes in this cup. Now let’s call this cup a “house.”
Now like other ceramic wares, this house-sized cup with holes as windows must be fired at a high temperature. The firing can be organized with the help of other villagers. The result is a house that’s much more durable than traditional huts, but hardly more expensive.
The artist as architect and entrepreneur, with an idea, astoundingly simple and demonstrably practical. Everyone can be his own builder, potter, and artist. It’s even highly likely that the townships will be more attractive than the accomplishments of many trained architects.
Now you may say, that’s nothing new. Many peoples, such as the Hopi Indians, built in this manner. That’s right, Nel also didn’t discover anything new, but looked for an inexpensive. The traditional material for his cup idea, a material you could find everywhere – and he combined something familiar in a new way.
A technique as simple as it is effective -- which you can also come up with through systematic thinking.