Open and Sustainable Innovation Systems (OASIS) Lab working notes

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Title: Do The Best Design Ideas (Really) Come From Conceptually Distant Sources Of Inspiration?


Authored by:: Joel Chan , Steven P. Dow , Christian D. Schunn

Year: 2015

Publication: Design Studies


Citekey: chanBestDesignIdeas2015




Design ideas often come from sources of inspiration (e.g., analogous designs, prior experiences). In this paper, we test the popular but unevenly supported hypothesis that conceptually distant sources of inspiration provide the best insights for creative production. Through text analysis of hundreds of design concepts across a dozen different design challenges on a Web-based innovation platform that tracks connections to sources of inspiration, we find that citing sources is associated with greater creativity of ideas, but conceptually closer rather than farther sources appear more beneficial. This inverse relationship between conceptual distance and design creativity is robust across different design problems on the platform. In light of these findings, we revisit theories of design inspiration and creative cognition.

Replicates and extends

Claim Somewhat-far analogies strike the best balance between novelty and quality