The Power of Oops

Jun 09 2016

by Tracey-Lauren Milne

It goes without saying that some of the best ideas were borne from a fortuitous mistake: Alexander Fleming had his mold, Archimedes submerged himself in a bath, and Spencer Silver accidently created the perfect adhesive for Post-it notes (IDEO thanks you, Mr Silver).

Two weeks ago, I was witness to such a moment myself. A colleague and friend, the imaginative Mr. Brown, was doodling a mob of amiable monsters and charming creatures with ink, a brush, and some paper. 

Pretty, yes. Cute, maybe. But it was when he was cleaning up that he came across a real gem: With ink-stained hands, he scrunched some paper towel to mop up the inky mess. He dabbed the offensive blob, gave a little twist and twirl with the paper towel, and lifted his hand away. 

Underneath shone a ravishing vortex which drew one’s imagination into its depths. Not one to shy away from allowing his imagination to wander, he kept twirling, twisting, and whirling.

A closeup of the result. Abstract Oopsterism.

Close Up

Being the cheap bugger that I am, and living in a home filled with empty walls, when I spied these beauties I immediately requested if I could have one once he was done.

His inky booboos are now hanging at home—a prized possession.

Try this at home. Free, do-it-yourself art.

  • Tracey-Lauren Milne

    Senior brand designer, IDEO Cambridge
    Originally from South Africa, Tracey finds great hilarity in the blank stares she receives when calling traffic lights "robots" and sun showers "monkeys' weddings."

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