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The Creative Process and Using Your Five Senses

By: Amy Marks-McGee
Posted: March 3, 2010, from the March 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Now reflect on vanilla. Do you remember when vanilla was just for baking? Today, it is ubiquitous; it has crossed markets and is available not only in the food and beverage sector, but in air care products, personal care products and fine fragrances.

For your next ingredient story, look at the local, seasonal and exotic ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and seasonings that chefs are using and grocery stores are carrying. Are there any proven health benefits for this ingredient? Does it have a signature scent? Are there unusual and unexpected combinations or pairings happening? Pushing the envelope further, one of the hottest trends in food preparation is pickling. Can you transfer this technique into your manufacturing process or product line? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself when you are cooking or eating.

Home and Family

From being a couch potato to redesigning your home to spending time with your children, design and functionality are two important aspects of your home life. For your next application or delivery system idea, pay attention to the consumer packaged goods you use everyday—such as your daily grooming products, household goods or your child’s favorite toy. You can even find inspiration from your drink of choice or your food staples—from their innovative packaging to their fortified ingredients. For example, Sniffle Buddies are absorbent, antibacterial and eco-friendly wristbands designed for kids to wipe their runny noses on instead of their sleeves or hands. This product was developed by two moms who began using sports wristbands to solve this problem.

In addition to consumer packaged goods, be aware of architecture, furniture, accessories and materials found in your home. Many associate Tyvek, DuPont’s lightweight and water-resistant material, with construction and the FedEx envelope. Believe it or not, Tyvek can be found in fashion such as American Apparel’s shorts and jacket.

While lounging at home or cleaning up after your children, look at the packaging, performance, benefits and the experience you have with common consumer items. Is there a design element you take for granted that you can utilize in your next prototype?