Spotlight TEDx Talk: Why we steal ideas to make something new

Designers Jessica Garcia Fritz and Federico Garcia Lammers at TEDxBrookings (Photo: Scott Meyer)

Designers Jessica Garcia Fritz and Federico Garcia Lammers at TEDxBrookings (Photo: Scott Meyer)

Countless artists, musicians, dancers, photographers and others openly share that something or someone has inspired them, but not so many define their craft as a product of theft.

“Theft” sounds like a heavy word, especially when it is in the same sentence as “art.” But Jessica Garcia Fritz and Federico Garcia Lammers, co-founders of the research and design studio mMÁS in Brookings, South Dakota, believe that it is the appropriate term for the things they make, they say in a talk at TEDxBrookings.

The two call their designs “authentic thefts” (a term thieved from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, of course) which Fritz defines as the “remix of previously established ideas through material, places and people,” an act that results in the creation of something new, original, extraordinary.

How do Fritz and Lammers thieve to create their designs? They borrow ideas from places they visit, people they know, and things they see to create works that demand the public’s attention and invite play, exploration and interaction. Their proposal for an installation in Minneapolis, MPLS Rope densCITY, remixed multi-colored climbing rope into a whimsical walkway, and in New York, a proposal for a piece on Governor’s Island, Orange Obscura, manipulated orange construction fencing into fiery, swaying cone-like structures. Both works invite visitors to interact with the installations, rather than simply pass through them.

mMÁS's plans for "MPLS Rope densCITY." (Photo: mMÁS')

mMÁS’s plans for “MPLS Rope densCITY.” (Photo: mMÁS’)

mMÁS's plans for "MPLS Rope densCITY." (Photo: mMÁS')

mMÁS’s plans for “MPLS Rope densCITY.” (Photo: mMÁS’)

mMÁS's plans for "Orange Obscura." (Photo: mMÁS')

mMÁS’s plans for “Orange Obscura.” (Photo: mMÁS’)

“One of the things that’s most fascinating to us is that you can take very ordinary, discarded and unused things and try to make them extraordinary, because it’s fun,” Lammers says. “But it also could have some social responsibility to it as well.” What makes the partners’ creations special is that they serve a dual purpose; on one hand, they are repurposed, beautiful architecture; on the other, they are interactive installations that serve as spaces for the public to play.

For more, watch their whole talk below:

Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:

Design talks are not easy to do. The speakers ground the presentation of their work –public installations that ask viewers to interact with them — in an idea, that acknowledging artistic inspirations and consciously building something new from them can help to create meaningful, interesting original creations. The designers support their point through sharing pieces they’ve imagined that iterate on established concepts or purposes for materials. The talk is clear, interesting and intriguing when paired with the speakers’ designs.

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