Ellen Rose

Ellen Rose 2019

The 'Aha' Movement

Designing for Creativity at Work

A Master's thesis blog: Products of Design MFA program at the School of Visual Arts


Crystal Hammer

Design a luxury product that provokes creativity.

The product that I prototyped to fulfill this prompt also sounds like the solution to a riddle: what is something that you can never use but in its impotence provides inspiration?

The crystal hammer is a luxury desktop objet d’art. A regular hammer’s purpose is as a conduit of force and pressure, but the materiality of this version removes that purpose. You cannot push nails through drywall with a crystal hammer. Light shines off and through its clear body, rendering this otherwise solid and powerful tool ephemeral and ghostly.

The contradiction of the hammer’s purpose and the material choice is one that is echoed in the inherent contradiction within the creative personality. Csikszentmihalyi writes, "If I had to express in one word what makes [creative people’s] personalities different from others, it would be complexity...contradictory extremes" (57). Creative people, and regular people too who are pushed to act creativity, face a tension within theirselves, which yields fresher, more adventurous ideas.

The packaging for the crystal hammer features a quote from the author Edward de Bono, who wrote Lateral Thinking: “contradiction for the sake of contradiction…is necessary” (39).

Rarely is there creativity without friction and ambiguity; without contradiction.