Intercultural Relationships Can Help Increase Your Creativity
We lovemaximizing creativity. Even as an adult, we believe that there are tons of ways for you to infuse a little outside-the-box thinking into your everyday life (and even hack your creativity while you sleep!). So while our awesome classes (like this *free* intro to ink illustration one) can definitely get you started, a recent study led by researchers at Columbia University found that another way to get your creative juices pumping is to get to know people from different cultures.
While there’s been little official research into the topic before this study, the correlation between intercultural relationships and creativity is actually pretty intuitive: It makes sense that having friends with different life experiences and backgrounds will enhance your perspective on the world. And we can definitely all think of personal examples that fit. The study’s authors cite Steve Job’s relationship with Kobun Otogawa, a Japanese Zen Buddhist, as an example of this phenomenon. After spending time with Otogawa, Jobs incorporated a Zen philosophy of “simplicity” into Apple’s designs — a philosophy that helped lead the company to unparalleled product development success.
The paper cites, per The Economist, that the number of international students worldwide is up to 4.5 million from the two million we saw at the turn of the millennium — with estimates claiming the total will be more than seven million by 2025. This rapid increase in global cultural exchange means that intercultural relationships like that of Jobs and Otogawa will surge as well. The world is essentially shrinking as technology and advanced, cheaper transportation methods make it easier to travel.
Due to this globalization, the study claims, the rising number of people who expose themselves to other cultures will also experience higher levels of creativity. But how? Through cultural learning, which is “the acquisition of new information and understanding about the assumptions, beliefs, customs, norms, values, or language of another culture.” If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign place and learned how to politely eat there, for example, then you’ve experienced cultural learning.
In order to test the creative impact of being exposed to other cultures, the researchers conducted a series of connected studies to try to put numbers to the various effects. One finds a relationship between the length of intercultural relationships and the ability to generate unique names for marketing products, demonstrating that a deep cross-cultural experience can expand creativity in ways that merely making acquaintances or dating people from your own culture does not. Another suggests that intercultural friendships can have the same effect as romantic intercultural relationships: A survey of over 2,000 people who’ve spent time working in the US shows higher levels of workplace innovation among those who, after returning home, maintain ties with American friends.
While the numbers backing it up are complex, understanding the relationship between creativity and intercultural relationships of any kind is simple, even according to the study’s authors: “Going out with a close friend or romantic partner from a foreign culture can help people ‘go out’ of the box and into a creative frame of mind.” If you’ve ever needed more of a reason to get out and travel, here it is!
How have cross-cultural experiences boosted your creativity? Share your stories with us on Twitter @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)
Pocket doors are so delightful in and of themselves. They appear when you need them, get tucked away when you don't, and make it easy to define rooms while keeping an open floor plan. Add to the pocket door a joyful patterned wallpaper surprise, and you will be sent right into fits of visual jubilation! Or something ;) Today we're sharing two simple and impactful pocket door makeovers that zhuzh up your space in a jiffy.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and proud owner of several pocket doors! When I moved into my first real grown-up house a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate wallpaper so reached out to our friends at Chasing Paper to see how we might collaborate. It felt like a total lightbulb moment when I realized I could create a surprise pop of pattern on a couple sets of pocket doors.
Not only is it a whimsical way to bring color into a space, but the doors double as picture-perfect backdrops for all your SFH (selfies from home, obvs).
A few pro tips about install:
- Removable wallpaper is miraculously forgiving! You can take it on and off multiple times without it losing integrity (or mucking up your surface).
- I ordered this adhesive wallpaper installation kit with a squeegee and xacto knife and it worked super well. I also recommend a sharp pair of scissors for cutting longer lines.
- This is a two-person job! Get a friend, put on a playlist, and get ready to bond.
- Wild, organic patterns like Tally are great because it's challenging to spot any imperfections in pattern alignment; keep pattern choice in mind if you've got a lot of corners to match up. More geometric patterns and larger shapes leave less room for error (but are awesome in their own right!).
BATHROOM POCKET DOORS
In our primary bathroom, we chose the wallpaper pattern Tally, designed by Kelly Ventura, in White and Navy. In our space, the navy reads as a soft black, which is perfect for the space. It's easy to combine an ever-rotating collection of linens with the Tally pattern.
I love how the white trim becomes the perfect frame around this pocket door piece of art.
My favorite moment in this space is the fact that you actually get a third pop of pattern thanks to our serendipitously placed mirror!
And yes, this one works pretty darn well as a backdrop too ;)
LIVING ROOM DOUBLE DOORS
This set of doors is definitely a focal point of our home. It separates our living room from our primary bedroom which opens onto our backyard. The doors are pretty much always open, but when they're closed we wanted to evoke a fun, nature-inspired vibe. With that in mind, we selected the Lines and Moons pattern by Thimblepress in Green and Brown.
Earth mama vibes up in here! I love how the shapes and colors echo the ferns you see through the windows and the acorn wood details throughout the house.
Love this pattern moment, and xacto-ing out the door handle is def on the oddly satisfying DIY list.
For a pattern lover like me, I love that now I have this instant photo backdrop!
Thanks to Chasing Paper for providing these rolls of pure pattern amazingness. Head to chasingpaper.com to find our own favorites and start adding patterns to your home!
(Wallpaper wingwoman: Kayla Haykin; Photography: Kurt Andre)