Your Very First Idea

Your first idea often isn’t the best idea, but it’s easy to get attached. Even if the constraints change, it’s often difficult to scrap that first beloved idea in favour of a new or better one.

Michael Bierut, a legendary New York-based graphic designer, shares an experience that’s familiar to many of us.

End Tables & Spaceships

Bierut was hired by a furniture showroom, The International Design Center, New York to design invitations for two of their events: an exhibition of experimental furniture and a lecture by NASA scientists on designed spacecraft interiors.

After excitedly producing initial designs for the two events, he got a dreaded phone call from their marketing manager:

“I’m afraid we just got our budget cut, and we can only afford one invitation. Can you combine them?” “No, of course not!” I sputtered. The two subjects were completely different: end tables and outer space. No one will come to either event. Plus, I liked the designs I had already done.

This is the common knee-jerk reaction when we’ve fallen in love with our first idea. But Beirut entertained the changed landscape just long enough to discover something surprising.

Almost without thinking, intending to do nothing more than demonstrate the impossibility of the problem, I did a drawing. Viewed one way, it was a table and a vase of flowers. Upside down, a rocket ship. I was smart enough to realize this drawing was the answer.


This is why recognizing great ideas requires such humility. The best ideas come out of the most unexpected places, if we’re willing to recognize them.

Don’t let the love of your first idea keep you from the next, better one.