I recently read the book “They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine” by Harold Evans, Gail Buckland, and David Lefer. I am truly amazed at how much of our society has been created by so few people. Everything that we use today from electricity, communication equipment, oil, farm equipment, brassiere’s for women, guns, medication, you name, was imagined and made profitable by one or a handful of people.
What’s significant about this is not the initial ideas themselves (because frequently, many people have conceptualized a breakthrough), but the creation of the idea into a workable and profitable concept. In many cases, a market had to be created for the invention to even exist. Take electricity for example: the idea of electricity was terrific, many experiments happening with it around the world. However, there were no stations to convert electricity in a form that would transmit over long distances, no boxes to receive and convert them into usable energy at a home/office, no switches to flip to turn-on the light bulbs that required the electricity to glow. EVERYTHING had to be created and the market and distribution systems needed to be created as well.
The amount of sheer will, determination, investment, persistence, and hard work, often in the face of relentless, negative public perception, personal loss and deprivation, and utter despair, makes the accomplishments of the men and women in the book simply staggering! I stand humbled and in awe of the many that have come before us in this amazing world we live in.
With respect to our own design industry, I am constantly amazed by clever creations that designers and architects imagine and attempt to bring to market. It takes courage to design and sell an idea, especially to people who lack the ability to see something in the conceptualization stage, but who require the physical object. So, hats off to the creators, marketers and sellers of ideas!