Monday, June 2, 2014

the fundamental nature of creativity, is really just a kaleidoscope of ideas

With a few upcoming design projects in the works, coupled with some self-induced pressure surrounding my design strategies, I am reminded about the nature of creativity in the words of Mark Twain.

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
Mark Twain

Well that's a relief, because I wasn't really looking forward to reinventing the wheel. It's comforting to think that the potential to connect to new ideas is ever present, and if you just click around on Pinterest for five minutes, it's not hard to be convinced. Personal experiences, images, and ideas seen in magazines or on sites like Pinterest can provide us with the inspiration to express ourselves creatively, in whatever way we see fit. It's our unique ability to interpret and marry those ideas together, and spin them into something new, that allows us to express ourselves as individuals.

So with all that in mind, a simple turn of my kaleidoscope helps me use my recent trip to the BVI's as inspiration for a tablescape demonstration for the ladies at the local senior center.

Often, I find that statement pieces, like conch shells, or found objects, help to get the creative-ball rolling. A girl with a big set of lungs, although not essential to the process, immediately calls you to attention and to the charge at hand. Boy is that loud!


Visualizing a color or a group of colors will help narrow down your tablescape palette. You can follow the same principles that apply to interior design and floral design, by choosing a starting point. For interiors, it might be a rug or wall color, for florals, it might be a vase, or a particular flower, and for tablescapes, it's the table surface or covering.

Marrying a set of everyday dishes with heirloom and vintage pieces is the best way to create a one-of-a-kind look. Not only is it in keeping with a modest budget, because you're using what you already have on-hand, but more importantly, it's meaningful. That being said, it doesn't hurt to make a smallish purchase when you find the perfect tangerine-tango chevron-patterned napkins at West Elm, for a bit of contemporary to play-off my more traditional Flying Turkey plates, passed down to me by my Mom.


Layering and mixing of colors, textures, and shapes, helps to achieve the right balance for your design space, or in this case, your table. I chose to begin this design with a natural linen cloth, found at HomeGoods, and just the right size for a 6-foot folding table, which will come in handy for future demonstrations. A piece of sisal mesh, which can be cut to any length, is used as a table runner, to recall the look of driftwood, and the color of sand.

Sometimes, it is helpful to use pieces that are whimsical to bring down the level of formality.

Bringing the outdoors in with the addition of organic elements and living art can never be wrong. Foraging for greens from the great outdoors or from your own garden can be rewarding and add a personal touch. Even if you live in a northern climate, you can always find something that can be incorporated into an arrangement with the addition of store-bought bunches.

Since the nature of tablescaping is semi-permanent, I say, throw caution to the wind and let your hair down, unless of course you're expecting Martha for dinner. Keep in mind that tablescaping isn't just for the dining room, and that many surfaces in your home have the potential for some self expression and creativity. Isn't that why they invented the coffee table book?  You might even choose to surprise an overnight guest with a tablescape design for the bedside table, or have some fun decorating your patio table for an impromptu barbecue. Spin your own kaleidoscope of ideas, and see what happens.

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