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Just a Position

Engaging with creativity brings to the surface the stuff that makes my heart sing and my spirit vibrate. Identifying elements that do this builds the awareness and in turn, creates more opportunity to be impacted by such magic!

Juxtaposition is one of those elements.

It’s not just a position.

Bringing two ideas together, connecting them in a way that is unusual — because it is not familiar — is not easy to do in a manner that creates magic.

Juxtaposition is employed in every possible creative field, always sharpening our response and reaction to an idea. By placing two things next to one another that wouldn’t normally sit together we force our minds to resolve this conundrum. And it’s in provoking that simple process that an idea really begins to stick.

John Hegarty. Hegarty on Creativity, There Are No Rules.

When a concept is explained so well and with such clarity it makes my effort to write further about the subject a little pointless. But in an effort to reframe and take action rather than be stumped…when a concept is explained so well and with such clarity it makes me want to engage with it. It makes me want to explore more. It makes me want to process my thoughts further, so I do, and I write about it. Another way to engage with the magic.

I write today about a familiar scene of juxtaposition that I enjoy exploring and experiencing. It is the combination of old and new in our built environment. We have gotten so used to this concept that I imagine it goes unnoticed by many people.

But this marriage of old and new, shabby and chic, lights me up and provides a sense of belonging. Being in the presence of such consideration and creativity sparks an interest to look, to appreciate, to take inspiration away. It charges me up.

“Looking is loving”

Wendy MacNaughton, from her brilliant TED Talk The art of paying attention.


When I see regenerated spaces for instance, my subconscious questioning isn’t along the lines of “why not knock everything down and start again?”…I’m curious, I want to know about the history and the considered development.

Old buildings have a story to tell and the idea of use is always food for thought. What was this big, brazen, brick building and what is it now? Designers and developers are adding layers to the fabric of the built environment, adding stories and creating places for people to live, work, play and connect.

Abandoned mills, factories and warehouses have a rich history. People lived and worked in those places and those tales travel with us and enrich the present day.

I recently visited the Battersea Power Station development in London and gazed up at the 6 million bricks that produce the colossal structure. Some old bricks and some new. The work carried out on this site has been a project of placemaking in such depth and consideration that you cannot help but appreciate what the development has done for the area.

The question of use within this juxtaposition enquiry is a further element to explore. Battersea Power Station has gained a completely new identity, the centre of a huge regeneration project, nowhere near the coal burning structure it once was. Years in the making and millions in the manufacture, this place has transformed into something very different but it remains a place for people.

Big is not always best

What about on a smaller scale. It doesn’t have to be grand and expensive to impress. Little acts of creativity peppering a town with thought and interest are just as good for my Inspiration & Belonging Bank Account.

The quintessential British red phone box for example. One of my favourite design icons that sprinkle towns and countryside alike with bright beacons of Britishness. A reminder that we are home, and we belong here. A reminder that we are part of British culture and a perfect example of how a new lease of life can create texture in our everyday experience.

The phone box is pretty much redundant in todays mobile world but this iconic design has been reimagined, taking on new identities across the country. The village library, local seed swap or a decorative flower tower…what wonderful reinventions for these British stalwarts.

I close today by ending as I started - quoting John Hegarty - because as I said earlier, he explains about juxtaposition much better than I do:

Used effectively, it captures our imaginations immediately, making it one of the most valuable techniques any creator can employ to dramatise their message.

John Hegarty. Hegarty on Creativity, There Are No Rules.

The famous "Out of Order" sculpture by David Mach


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