Giant Cardboard Cubes and the Adjacent Possible

In the spirit of modeling creativity and inspiring play, I wanted to share with you a little bit about some of the “play” that I engage in here in my cardboard lab/home.

I made these giant cardboard cubes after spending an hour or so playing with a stack of cardboard banana boxes that I had collected.

Each cube is made from the tops and bottoms of two banana boxes and two cam straps.

Remember this stage in your kids? Everything down the rabbit hole…

We discovered that the cube has these pockets that are the perfect place for Isis to keep her favorite board books. (We have to keep our other books out of reach for now, otherwise we would spend all of our days re-shelving books instead of reading them.)

Last year I read the book, “Where Good Ideas Come From”, by Steven Johnson and started thinking about how I could become more innovative in my day-to-day life.

In Where Good Ideas Come From, Johnson talks about an idea called “the adjacent possible.” The concept goes something like this:  We seldom have fully formed ideas or creative solutions that come to us in a moment of brilliance. These ideas build up as slow hunches that we compile over time.

So in effect, it’s all the little experiences that lead us to those  genius ideas.

I imagine these adjacent experiences as stepping-stones. You can’t get to that big idea, without first leaping from little idea to little idea.

I’m trying to spend more time stepping away from the computer and actually playing and experimenting with cardboard as my way of building a path towards new ideas and designs in cardboard.

Future Parkour enthusiast?

I have to say, it’s a lot of fun.

I get so much joy out of just playing with cardboard, with no obvious intent, just for the joy of it. Sometimes it comes of nothing, and sometimes you get giant cardboard cubes; a happy accident.

As Steven Johnson says, “Chance favors the connected mind.”……

So now I invite you to comment!

What materials do you like to play and experiment with as an adult? Fabric, wood, flour, clay, fiber, dye, paper?

What machines do you work on and repair? bikes, sewing machine, cars, cameras, computers? (This year I replaced the hard drive on this very iMac that I write the blog on. Talk about empowering! You have to check out

Do you let yourself drift off into that elementary school aged daze, where nothing mattered beyond the sandbox or your paper and paste pot?

2 thoughts on “Giant Cardboard Cubes and the Adjacent Possible

  1. I like these simple boxes. Looking at your wonderful photos, you can’t help but want to leap off the cardboard box just like Isis did so freely. (Love that tiara) Yes, it is the small connecting steps that take us into that new idea or that new territory to explore within ourselves. Sometimes we need that box so we can take the leap. Yeah, for your giant cardboard box cubes!

  2. These cubes look like so much fun! I agree with the idea of good ideas coming gradually instead of in a flash of brilliance. I like to explore with just about any medium. At this point in my life it has been mainly sewing, but I am also dabbling in making toys for my son from various materials. As for fixing mechanical or electronic things, I’m not much good at that at all! I’m so impressed you doctored your own iMac!

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