I failed at academic studies in history, grammar, mathematics, languages, and all things based on abstract symbols. I was, by contrast, inexplicably intuitive in art, crafts, mechanics, building, engineering and all things related to real, tangible elements and circumstances.

I had incredible difficulty expressing myself in words, but, from a very early age, could draw remarkably well and shape or assemble anything. Memory of dates, abstract events and names were a struggle, whereas, retention of forms, mechanisms, and visual phenomena where long-lasting and accurate.

These contrasting traits could be the foundation for personal setbacks, disappointment and failure, but they weren’t. Instead, my unique traits–through good fortune, unplanned events and connections—opened a path for me to succeed, though sometimes illogically.

Remarkably, over time, my competancy and sense of excellence in the things that came natural to me, seemed to transfer to those challenging skills allowing me to do better.

Keeping it Simple, MONOCLE, April 2013

TED Talk: Niels Diffrient Rethinks the Way We
Sit at Work

New York Times, Ridgefield Press, Cranbrook Academy of Art

Niels Diffrient