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The Ambiguous Role of Constraints in Creativity: A Cross-Domain Exploration

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  • Michael Mose Biskjaer
  • Balder Onarheim, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
  • Stefan Wiltschnig, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
The relationship between creativity and constraints is often described in the literature either in rather imprecise, general concepts or in relation to very specific domains. Cross-domain and cross-disciplinary takes on how the handling of constraints influences creative activities are rare. In this paper, we explore these particular issues in two creative domains: art and engineering design. These domains vary so greatly in terms of number and types of constraints in play that we argue for considering them as opposite extremes of a continuum of levels of creative freedom. By comparing two case studies of Danish cutting-edge proponents of creative expertise thus exemplifying each domain, this preliminary exploration mainly focuses on similarities in how such successful professionals work with constraints to frame their creative process and ensure its progression toward the final outcome. Our main observations suggest that despite vast differences between the two domains, significant patterns and strategies reoccur. From a list of nine such similarities identified, four patterns are analyzed across the two domains in more detail as a contribution to encourage further advancement of cross-disciplinary research into the ambiguous role of constraints in creativity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Design, Development & Research conference, Cape Town, South Africa, September 26-27, 2011
Publication yearSep 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

    Research areas

  • Design, engineering design, creativity, constraints, filmmaking

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