Innovate like Leonardo da Vinci
Einstein said, “The greatest scientists are always artists as well”:
Art-Science Innovation: There is also a long history of art informing science, and vice versa. I’ve described before how early computer programming was adapted from punch-cards used in Jacquard tapestry looms (1), and how Alexis Carrel won a Nobel Prize for developing the suturing techniques used in heart surgery by reapplying techniques from lace making (2). Staying on the topic of medicine, the pace maker is derived from a musical metronome (2), and in a recent Innovation Excellence article, Scott Williams made an excellent case for borrowing innovative ideas from computer games and Sci-Fi, especially for military innovation (3). Visual illusions and illusionists can teach us much about how attention and visual search operates (4,5), which can be extremely useful for any number of design applications, while comedy can teach us how to write stunning concepts and develop surprisingly obvious innovations (6).
Science Informing Art. This is a two way street. Science can also support art and design, by supplying technical tools, but also self understanding of the creative process. For example, Ramachandran and Hirstein’s exploration of the neuroscience of art provides a fascinating framework that can help us create more consistently (7).