30th May 2019 0 Comments Creativity, Human Insight

Seeing differently for ingenuity

“The idea of a new material to replace leather was always in the back of my mind,” says Dr. Carmen Hijosa, Founder & Chief Creative and Innovation Officer of Ananas Anam, the company that created Piñatex, a plant-based leather alternative made from the pineapple farming industry’s waste. But trying to get others to see her vision was a journey in itself.

“How do you say to someone, I am going to make a new material from this waste?” The challenge says Hijosa was get people to stretch their imaginations, to go from what they saw in front of them — discarded pineapple leaves — to picturing something entirely different.  “You build yourself as an entrepreneur with many people around you, but you’ve got a particular time in this period of growth where you look back and think, wow that was a moment”.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make something mass produced and that it would be good,”

Dr. Carmen Hijosa

The eureka moment for Piñatex came about when she was working with weavers in the Philippines, who used pineapple fibres, or “piña”, as a hand-woven, hand-loomed fabric for traditional garments worn at formal occasions like weddings. Hijosa saw the potential to treat piña differently, and this is at the crux of Hijosa’s ingenuity. She took a 400 year-old cottage industry into the 21st century through economies of scale.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make something mass produced and that it would be good,” says Hijosa.

In preparation for taking Pinatex to market, Hijosa gained a PhD in Textiles from the Royal College of Art, London but not before preparing her portfolio. Here, she drew everyday, spending time in nature and training herself to free up her thinking. “You start to see things differently,” says Hijosa “You’re transforming yourself from the inside out, to be able to follow this transformation is a very wonderful way of seeing”.

Creative thinking is one of the qualities attributed to entrepreneurs and inventors. This isn’t anything new, but new research suggests that entrepreneurs are wired differently, responding well to dopamine, a chemical that thrives when the brain is thinking creatively.

When you let your mind float, you are giving dopamine free reign.”

Daniel Lieberman

Daniel Lieberman, co-author of The Molecule of More and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, “One aspect of creative thinking is the association of things we wouldn’t usually connect,” says Lieberman “The ability to make unusual connections comes from letting our attention wander through the abstract and the not-yet-existent. When you let your mind float, you are giving dopamine free reign.”


Share: