While Bill Buxton was very inspiring at Microsoft’s “App Days”, Andrew Spooner, a design researcher for Microsoft, was equally brilliant.
The theme of his talk was being inspired by and learning from what’s around us in different fields from architecture, music, typographic design.
Once concrete example is in the Cistercians’ abbeys in France. They were built from the 12th century onwards and in some of them they used a subtle visual trick (steps coming in from the right in an arch).
Rather than hiding these steps neatly to the side, their presence gives a clue or a hint of where you can go next. Similar to the almost off-canvas Windows 8 tiles which indicate there’s more content behind a swipe to the left.
You can see this and other examples in “Conversations”, a series of 6 short videos he made, well worth a watch.
Sometimes we might think we’re inventing the future, but in fact, all we’re doing is reapplying the past.