Looking Sideways exploration tool integrated into a more tangible, interactive ideation 'drafting' table
Create, connect, and expand concepts. Video source: Looking sideways website
"To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees" — Paul Valéry

We have reached the Pinterest 'singularity'. Our online searches provide only the same content to us; good for finding an 'answer' to a direct question, but less useful when we want to explore new ideas.

Conceived by Pip Mothersill, a PhD researcher and designer at the MIT Media Lab, Looking Sideways is an online exploration tool that seeks to provide unexpected inspiration from diverse and laterally connected content. For every search query you type, this tool gives you content from art, design, history and pop-culture to help you explore concepts more broadly.

The search 'results' will not always 'make sense'; but that's the point! Allow yourself be open to ambiguity, explore areas that seem irrelevant, use your imagination to discover new interpretations and connections, and let this tool help disrupt your thinking...


My role was to build the website, including the front-end architecture, back-end APIs, and assist with interaction design and user testing. We created a front-end MVC architecture integrated with D3, content APIs (art, design, definitions, popculture), and a Google Compute Engine instance with a large graph database of semantically linked concepts, as well as a Firebase backup system; we also experimented with neural network-generated stylistic visual connections.

See another similar project: Reframe.