The Storm of Creativity
Although each instance of creativity is singular and specific, Kyna Leski tells us, the creative process is universal. Artists, architects, poets, inventors, scientists, and others all navigate the same stages of the process in order to discover something that does not yet exist. All of us must work our way through the empty page, the blank screen, writer’s block, confusion, chaos, and doubt. In this book, Leski draws from her observations and experiences as a teacher, student, maker, writer, and architect to describe the workings of the creative process.
Leski sees the creative process as being like a storm; it slowly begins to gather and take form until it overtakes us—if we are willing to let it. It is dynamic, continually in motion; it starts, stops, rages and abates, ebbs and flows. In illustrations that accompany each chapter, she maps the arc of the creative process by tracing the path of water droplets traveling the stages of a storm.
Leski describes unlearning, ridding ourselves of preconceptions; only when we realize what we don’t know can we pose the problem that we need to solve. We gather evidence—with notebook jottings, research, the collection of objects—propelling the process. We perceive and conceive; we look ahead without knowing where we are going; we make connections. We pause, retreat, and stop, only to start again. To illustrate these stages of the process, Leski draws on examples of creative practice that range from Paul Klee to Steve Jobs, from the discovery of continental drift to the design of Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia.
Creativity, Leski tells us, is a path with no beginning or end; it is ongoing. This revelatory view of the creative process will be an essential guide for anyone engaged in creative discovery.
The Creative Process
Gathering and Tracking
Perceiving and Conceiving
About the Author
Kyna Leski is Professor in the Department of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and a Founding Principal of 3six0 Architecture.
“A definitive guide to swimming through creative chaos, The Storm of Creativity shows us how to flow effortlessly through the process of birthing new, original ideas into the world.”
—Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and Chief Product Officer, Airbnb
“We spiral through our lives trying to do our work, and Kyna Leski understands the elusive complexity of it all. I love the air and light in the book. Thank God she has written a how-not-to book that helps us understand how to do it. And not do it.”
—Maira Kalman, author of The Principles of Uncertainty
“This is a book about the thoughtful journey of creativity. Life is about going from not knowing to knowing. This blank, this zero from which I start every project is understood by Kyna Leski. Going from not knowing to knowing is my time of peace, and it is the time of creativity. This theme, threaded throughout the book, is a source of confidence and terror all at once. It is how we give up comfort and preconception to discover the essence of design. You will enjoy reading Kyna Leski's illuminating account of the creative process.”
—Richard Saul Wurman
“I have always believed that a true creative process begins with a state of ambiguity because true creativity happens when it deviates, and your judgment can rely only on your level of impulse. In The Storm of Creativity, Kyna Leski vividly describes with precision and in a few words how such initial ambiguous emotion and imagination can become, from beginning to finish, a form of clarity.”
—Wang Shu, Dean, School of Architecture, China Academy of Art; 2012 Pritzker Prize winner
“There is perhaps no intellectual who is as in tune with the vulnerability of the creative process and the uncertainty from which innovation emerges as Kyna Leski. On the one hand, her focus on ‘unlearning’ takes us back to our most elemental moments of learning as a child, but also, on the other hand, to our most corrupted ideological predispositions. In her thinking, she develops critical mechanisms that braid the arts, sciences, and humanities to bring the various disciplines into conversation as part of the process of discovering. In this book, Leski brings the best of Cooper culture, as a school of thought, to a broader audience.”
—Nader Tehrani, Dean, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union