The Magic Triangle

In my career as a designer, artist, musician and educator, there has been one important insight that has fundamentally influenced all these areas and changed my life in many ways in a positive way: Projects that I initiated myself, that came from my own intrinsic motivation, have not only taken me the farthest, they have enriched my life to an extent that I could not have imagined before.

However, with each project I was faced with a new white page and had to think up the rules for it myself. And it was precisely for this problem that I found an effective solution.

The Magic Triangle is a practical creativity technique that I developed as a student at the Münster School of Design based on an idea by Thomas and Martin Poschauko, which they present in their book “Nea Machina“.

This method not only fosters creativity, but also ensures that the results work as a series and have a high recognition value. It is not only suitable for art and design, but can be applied to virtually every area of creative work.

How it works

Imagine a blank piece of paper being a gigantic space full of hundreds of thousands of valuable ideas. A gigantic universe that no human brain can ever grasp. Now I draw three lines on this sheet of paper, which together form a closed triangle. Each of the three lines represents an unbreakable rule that I define. With this I frame the smallest possible area of this infinite universe of ideas.


Within the triangle there are now coherent ideas that I can visualize and implement in a playful way. I call discovering these ideas within the triangle “exploration”.

That is basically the theory. To illustrate exactly how it works, here are a few examples of use:

Example 1: Injuvik Live Visuals

The Magic Triangle for the live-visuals

When I met my close companion Patrik Hübner in 2014, we forged a diffuse plan: He wanted to develop visuals for the live show of my little solo music project “Injuvik”, which could be projected onto the stage. To give this completely free task a structure, we developed a set of rules for the project, which we visualized with the Magic Triangle.

Rule 1

In terms of software, there were of course hundreds of ways to approach such a project. But since Patrik is a gifted programmer, he decided to use a programming language. In my studies I had got to know Processing. And so the decision was made.

Rule 2

Since Processing is ideal for developing generative visuals, we decided to control the live visuals basically with the audio input of the stage sound. In that way, the visuals reacted to the music in real time.

Rule 3

We decided to project the visuals onto the stage with a wide-angle projector. That way we could travel without any problems and had very short set-up times.

Patrik has consistently followed this set of rules for months and so we were able to develop a strong USP as a band, which enabled us to acquire concerts on big venues within a very short time.

Example 2: Programming Posters

The Magic Triangle for “Programming Posters”

In 2018 I got the request to teach a course about Creative Coding with Processing in the program “Communication Design” at the Rhine-Waal University.

I could still remember the boring courses about programming in my time as a student at the Münster School of Design. They were uninspiring and only taught the technology, but not what wonderful things you can do with it. That’s why the courses were not well attended and were quickly discontinued.

With this knowledge, I wanted to develop an inspiring course that showed the creative possibilities of programming right from the start and motivated the students to develop their own expressive project over the semester that was specifically related to their main focus (communication design).

I started to develop a magic triangle and to think about the 3 rules.

  1. Create Posters
  2. Use only Blue and White
  3. Use Processing

With this set of rules I started to work and began to develop my own experiments. Many positive effects were immediately apparent to me: The clear decision for a predefined color scheme kept me from wasting my energy with superfluous color experiments. The concise color theme increased the recognition value enormously and thus ensured that my experiments on Instagram were put into context and recognized.


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Programming Posters Showcase

“Programming Posters” was my most popular project to date, which received a lot of press feedback and set the direction for me and my teaching concept.

Click here to go to the Case-study.

Example 3: Bauhaus Coding Workshop

The Magic Triangle for the “Bauhaus Coding Workshop”

When planning my course “Bauhaus Coding Workshop“, I used the Magic Triangle at the very beginning to decide on three important design rules, which accelerated the development of all lessons enormously. These rules are directly rooted in the basic principles of the Bauhaus teachings and avoid unnecessary thinking and wasting energy.

  1. use only black and white
  2. start with a basic geometric shape
  3. work in a square


The positive effects of using a Magic Triangle are amazing and enormously valuable. The two most important advantages are as follows:

  1. the amplification of creativity
  2. the amplification of the recognition value

The method of the Magic Triangle is very easy to learn and can be adapted to a wide variety of applications. Today is a great day to try it out, isn’t it? Have fun with this!


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Published by Tim on Monday July 27, 2020

Last modified on March 19th, 2021 at 19:32


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