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#9 Brushing Up on Creative Ideas


This above tree is made from bottle brushes, and I pasted it because I can't find an image of the original brush tree, which was apparently made from toilet brushes.

The story has it that a staff member of the Addis Houseware Co in 1930 constructed a tree out of green toilet brushes, which actually went on sale, and lead a new wave of artificial Christmas trees. The bristles were stronger than previous versions that used feathers, and therefore could hold more ornaments.

The story is well known, but who actually knows if it's true, and who really cares - the concept is on point. I always see objects which I know can be used against their original purpose to solve other problems. It's a type of "MacGyver" way of looking at the world (a guy who could work his way out of tricky situations by repurposing objects at his disposal, such as making explosives by mixing toothpaste and prescription pills after being locked in a bathroom by 'baddies').

Often having ideas likes this is trusting your intuition, and the idea of 'knowing'. People will tell you something can't be done, and your idea doesn't make sense - but who cares what they think - because they don't 'know' until they've seen what you do. I remember when I was working in logistics and emptying containers of product which had been flipped upside down so the pallets could be removed in order to fit more in the container, and staff would unload them by hand on to pallets at the receiving end. I had an idea to grab some right angle rack protecters (pieces of steel bolted to the floor of the corners of racks to protect the beams from being hit by forklifts) and then placing these around the boxes of imported goods. Then wrapping a strop around the metal and tying it to the forklift. My friend was wondering what the hell I was thinking, until I started dragging the boxes out of the container and onto pallets, which resulted in no manual labour. I just knew it would work - and it did.

You might think of a bog brush Christmas tree, or moving boxes with rack protectors - whatever it is - trust yourself to try your crazy little ideas to solve problems. Most people will only agree with your idea once they see it working.