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Designer explains inspiration: anticipating what’s next
Inspiration is the stimulation to do something and can drive people to do incredible things. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your job is or which hobbies you enjoy — inspiration is at the core of personal and professional growth.
John Paxton, senior designer at Kia, finds his inspiration in looking to the future.
“My inspiration has consistently been fueled by a desire to anticipate what’s next,” says Paxton. “Similar to entertainment such as music and film, there’s a human desire to explore and find newness in sights, sounds and experiences.”
He goes on to explain that it’s part of human nature to always want to expand and grow, to reach farther and explore beyond what has already been accomplished. This desire has driven innovation throughout history.
“A desire to continue to develop newness in the projects and designs I’m tasked with tackling is what drives me,” Paxton says. “I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of seeing the unseen, and finding solutions that consumers can eventually connect with ... starting with a blank canvas.”
In his design work, he keeps a keen eye on what people want now while anticipating the future. Why? Because the Kia cars he is designing today may not be in the hands of drivers for several years, like the Kia Soul, Forte and Cadenza models.
“A challenge I face is anticipating what people are going to look for in a design not only today, but years from now when the production vehicle is actually available to them, it’s like having a crystal ball for designers. The most rewarding aspect is when you are able to see the predicted work out in a well-received product on the road,” he says.
Paxton uses the new Kia Soul as an example. His design work on the Soul focused on a youthful demographic heavily inspired by social media, music and fashion. Using these ideas as inspiration, he worked with his team to create something that didn’t fit the standard vehicle mold. “This was about loudness, boldness, confidence, in a very youthful voice. Nothing was reserved or timid,” he says.
Inspiration can be collaborative or personal, and sometimes both. It can help you reach an individual goal — such as fundraising, home improvement or health and wellness — or it can, like Paxton, drive innovation in your professional life in a way that can significantly impact others.
If you want to discover your inspiration, consider these simple activities:
Create an inspiration board. Sometimes called a mood board, these are great for kicking off creativity and finding purpose. Get a large piece of paper or use a blank wall and create a collage of things that inspire, centering on your goal. These can be pictures, colors, words — whatever strikes a positive chord. This becomes an abstract representation of what drives you and what you want to achieve.
Go for a drive. Few things beat the feeling of the open road, so go for a drive to a local park to take a hike or simply meander and see where destiny takes you. As you drive, open your mind to the sounds and sights around you. You might see a particularly inspiring mural in the city or a calm field in rural areas. If feeling stuck, turn on some music and drive on.
Explore online. Try visiting websites that provide inspiring content. For example, the Give It Everything Collective from Kia at www.kia.com is a digital space where people can share their stories of what it means to give everything. In reading about other peoples’ goals and driving factors, you may find inspiration for reaching your goals.
Do something new: Sign up for that class.
Make a fresh fashion choice. Check out that indie film. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Doing something new can put you outside your comfort zone, and that builds confidence. In expanding your world you may find the inspiration you’re looking for while discovering more about who you are personally.
Inspiration can come in many forms. It fuels innovation and ingenuity, whether it’s something massive on the world stage or a modest personal goal. Take time to discover what drives you.