When you love something very much, say for example a bicycle, then you spend so much time with it that eventually you stop seeing it. Or at least you stop seeing it with the fresh eyes that helped you fall in love with it in the first place.
In designing and building bikes all day, every day, day after day, year after year, for decades, it’s possible to lose sight of what you’re doing. Even when you’re achieving your stated purpose, inspiration can ebb.
Like a bike race, where you have your head down, and your entire focus is on the work of staying in the group. All you know is your legs are burning, and your chest is heaving. And if you keep your head down like that, you’ll miss the winning move.
So we build bikes all day, every day, but we also pick our heads up and look around us. There is so much there to inspire. Some of the things you see stick with you, either consciously or unconsciously, and then find their way into your design work.
Or maybe, you are so taken with an object that you look it up. You learn how it’s made, and in discovering that process you find a better way to make something you’ve been working on forever. In the best cases, this whole process leads to solutions for seemingly intractable problems. You didn’t expect this, but there it was, in a sculpture park or parked out behind a shopping center, just waiting for you to see, if you can remember to look.