Exceeding limitations is all about the way you think

Written by Belle Beth Cooper on February 28, 2013

We’ve talked about why restrictions are important in creative fields before, and this is a great example. This video from The Avant/Garde Diaries offers a double hit of artistic prowess with Danish designer Sigurd Larsen and Swedish artist Michael Johansson, who both use art to explore the limitations and possibilities of physical objects and spaces.

Sigurd gives us some insight into his inspiration for working with 3D objects and exploring how they fit together (hint: it all started with Lego). He likes design that tells a story and “does something more,” like opening and closing. The images below show his design “The Shrine,” which he describes as “hub of drawers and doors accessible only with keys.”

He also discusses how restrictions affect his creative process. When a client gives you restrictions, he says, they make a lot of the decisions for you. When Sigurd works on his own projects, the process is a little different:

“In the free creative process you have to search for the limitations yourself.”

Clearly, a bookcase being in front of an entrance is not enough of a limitation for Sigurd.

Michael’s work also uses spacial limitations to interesting effect. In what he calls ‘real life Tetris,’ Michael takes recycled objects and repositions them in new contexts. You really have to see it to understand:

That’s got to be the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a real-life Tetris game.

Michael could use new objects, but he says he prefers to use those that “have a history”:

“They have… ‘lived a life’ before I found them.”

He uses common objects like suitcases and children’s toys because he says he likes the idea of “something we recognize but can’t really approach or have access to anymore.” Interestingly, his process begins with limitations. When Michael chooses his space and objects, he then has to work around those restrictions to create something amazing.

What kind of limitations do you work with every day? How do you overcome them? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Belle Beth Cooper

Belle is a co-founder of Melbourne startup Hello Code, creators of Exist—a personal analytics platform that helps you find work/life balance.

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