BusinessWeek, quickly becoming the “magazine about design” without being overly overt about it, has just put up their “Cutting Edge Designers” feature. It’s jam packed with so much information (if you include links to previous years) that, if you start reading it all now, you should just about be ready to come back and read our fresh posts on Monday morning. And it’s not just sheer bulk either. Lots of it is very interesting, including a brief profile on Mr. Celebrity Web Design Guru himself, Jeffrey Zeldman. Here’s a little from the intro of the whole section (which, this year, has the specific focus of collective, “cross pollinating” ideas):
The Frisbee. The escalator. Reinforced concrete. These very different inventions share one thing in common: They weren’t invented exactly — each was borrowed from an unrelated field. The flying toy was inspired by the metal pie tins of the Frisbie Baking Company that college students of yore tossed for fun. The escalator was originally conceived as a Coney Island amusement ride. And reinforced concrete was first patented in 1848 by a French gardener trying to develop a better flowerpot.
These stories of productive serendipity sound almost unbelievable — the urban legends of the inventing world. Even if they are true, you might think they’re nothing more than dumb luck — as relevant to business strategy as a winning lottery ticket. Yet such examples are less rare than you might think.