Accutron watches by Bulova are famous among watch wearers, but not well known outside the community. Launched in 1960, they were the first fully electronic wristwatches on the market. Customers were so fascinated by how they worked that a year later, Bulova released the Accutron Spaceview, which gave customers a window into the watch’s inner workings.
When architect Richard Rogers received a Spaceview watch as a gift, it inspired him to design a building with all its ductwork, plumbing, and electrical conduits exposed. This building became the Pompidou Center in Paris, France. Unveiled in 1977, the design initially received controversy before winning awards 30 years later.
It didn’t take 30 years for the Pompidou Center to gain one fan, however. Nike corporate architect Tinker Hatfield was so inspired by his visit to the Pompidou Center that he switched to designing shoes with exposed elements. The most famous of these designs is the Nike Air Max 1, which has a visible air bubble in the sole of the shoe. Air Max 1’s launched the Air Jordan line, one of Nike’s biggest successes.
The best invention inspiration comes from unlikely sources. True innovation is never limited to its own niche or industry.