October 2 2023

Do interesting

Something we do in our little design team is “development time”. It goes in the calendar every other Monday for 2 hours. It’s supposed to be time that people can devote to their own projects. It might be:

  • writing up a blog post or note
  • designing and building a personal site
  • sorting out a presentation
  • learning coding or software bits

Pretty much anything that can be pursued personally, given a bit of time in which to do it.

This time round I challenged myself to write up and publish a recent presentation I did at the NHS Design Huddle (this is a get together of designers across the org) where I tried to get it out of “work“ a bit.

So here goes. I have 2 hours. Timer is set.

Do Interesting

1: I bought a book

Photo of the Do Interesting book next to a list of notice and collect, with ticks for done, and share, with a cross for not done

Russell Davies recently published a book called “Do Interesting” and it’s very good. It’s little and has a wonderful tone to it. It struck a chord and I have found it to be very encouraging.

I also decided to take the “share” part of it seriously, and so did a presentation about things I notice and collect, but haven’t shared. Possibly from fear that the things I notice and collect make me a dullard…

2: That photo again

Photo of canang sari on a tiled floor

In another post I’ve mentioned just how deeply chuffed I am with the photo above. I took it in Bali, of some canang sari outside a shopfront. Nobody liked it on Instagram but I don’t care. I think there’s something in that composition, where everything just magically balances.

3: de Kooning, Krasner, Pollock

Details of paintings by Willem de Kooing, Lee Krasner, and Jackson Pollock

Something I’ve noticed is that I have always been fascinated by painting that:

  • is figuratively suggestive of forms
  • occupies a shallow visual field

4: Collecting shallow planes

Group of 8 photos, all of the ground, taken at 90 degrees

So. It seems I have a tendency to collect things I see that resonate in a similar way. Photos taken, invariably at 90° to the ground, of found compositions.

5: Finding pictures on the ground

Diagram picking out the resemblance of shards of wood and moss on the ground to a line of 3 standing stones

I think I noticed the moss and wood on the ground because it figuratively suggested something to me, and had a nice balance of composition. So I collected it.

6: Hyong-keun, Newman

A painting by Yun Hyong-keun alongside a print by Barnett Newman, both abstract and rectilinear

I also have a soft spot for straight up “it’s just some rectangles!” abstraction.

7: Walking the dog

Two photos showing my dog on a wooden walkway in the woods

Now we live in Sussex I walk the dog in the woods almost every day. In these woods are a lot of wooden walkways and little bridge type things, because it gets super muddy.

8: Collecting walkways

Group of 10 photos, all of wooden walkways, taken at 90 degrees

Obviously my brain got hold of these walkways and decided that at 90° they were basically abstract paintings. And so I started collecting them.

9: Noticed, collected, shared

A list of notice, collect, and share, all with ticks for done

I have:

  • noticed that I find interesting images on the ground
  • collected a bunch of them as photos
  • shared them in a talk (and now a post)


Phew. 4 minutes to spare. Luckily Keynote does a decent slides-to-image and loading="lazy" is a thing.