Conceptual blending is an operation that takes place at our conscious and unconsciousness levels.  Our ancient ancestors routinely blended experiences, constantly, without their awareness, into the creation of emergent new meanings, ideas, and discoveries.  Combining images of spider webs and hunting of animals inspired humans to weave nets so women and children to throw over and trap small prey. Observing the loyalty they received from the pet animals for feeding them inspired the idea of gift giving between distant groups. They conceptually blended giving and receiving to create the idea of gift giving in order to receive something. Beads made from eggshells were exchanged in order to secure future favors and alliances when times became tough.

Think for a moment about hydrogen and oxygen. Put them together in the right combination and you have something different from either of the gases alone. You could not have predicted that ice would float, a hot shower would feel so relaxing, or a cool drink would be so refreshing. Simple concepts are like these simple gases. Alone, they have known and obvious properties. Put them together, and seemingly magical transformations can occur. But, it is not magic; it is simply the gift of creative thinking we are all born with. Following are some techniques to experiment with either alone or in a group while brainstorming for ideas:


RANDOM OBJECTS. Select 20 objects at random. You can select any objects, objects at home, objects at work, or objects you might find walking down the street. Or you can imagine you are in a technologically-oriented science museum, walking through the Smithsonian Institute, or browsing in an electronic store and make a list of 20 objects that you would likely see. Make two lists of 10 objects each on the left and right sides of the paper.

See example below. This is an actual example from an inventor who invents, patents, and then sells the patents to manufacturers. He is constantly combining objects in various exercises to discover new ways to identify new ideas to develop.

Try this simple example. He will simply list common objects in two lists. Then he combines A objects with B objects and then looks to see if there is anything he can develop. Pick one from the left and combine it with one on the right. See what interesting combinations you can discover from his lists.

A                                    B       

COMPUTER                 SLICER


BAGEL                           HAMMOCK


DOORMAT                   WINDOWS

BATHTUB                      VACUUM CLEANER                     



BED ROOM                   POCKETS


SHOWER                       SODA CAN

When finished, scroll down to compare your combinations with his.
















In the example, the illustrated combinations yielded his ideas:

∙         Combining bagel with slicer yields a bagel slicer with plastic sides designed to hold the bagel and prevent rotation when slicing.

∙         Bathtub and hammock combines into a baby tub with a simple hammock in the  tub with a headrest to hold the baby’s head securely, leaving the parent’s hands free to do the washing.

∙         Sunglasses and windows combine to form the idea of tinted house windows,  like tinted sunglasses,  designed to change colors with ultraviolet light to help keep the house cool.

∙         Suntan lotion and insect repellent combines to form a new product— one lotion that protects against both the sun and insects.

‘         Shower and pockets inspired him to create shower curtains with pockets inside. The pockets are for soap, shampoo, lotions and other items that are normally stored on poles with shelves. Items are constantly falling to the floor because of the wet surfaces. Placing items in shower curtain pockets keeps them dry and convenient.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: