cover image Creating Things That Matter: The Art and Science of Innovations That Last

Creating Things That Matter: The Art and Science of Innovations That Last

David Edwards. Holt, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-1-25014-718-9

In this fascinating study, Edwards, a Harvard professor and inventor, explores an adventurous approach to creating new products and services, positing it as crucial to a challenging period when “our many inventions, from skyscrapers to polyester clothing,” are causing as many problems as they solve. He distinguishes “commercial” and “cultural” approaches to creation—respectively concerned with a short-term impact on others, and with gratifying oneself—from his preferred “aesthetic” approach, which expresses one’s personal sense of the world but can also leave a lasting impression on others. Edwards cites insights from students in his Harvard class, “How to Create Things & Have Them Matter,” and provides in-depth case study examples—a chef who “changed the trajectory of haute cuisine” and helped popularize it; a prolific patent holder and engineer who exhibits “aesthetic empathy” in his collaborations with others; the executive producer of the American Repertory Theater, whose populist reimaginings of Shakespeare provide an example of “getting people to do the unexpected, and to enjoy it.” Edwards also draws historical examples from the Italian Renaissance to help readers understand “the stream of innovation coming at us today.” His work imparts an invigorating sense of discovery and of hope for a more innovative, compassionate, and collaborative future. (Oct.)