The Role of Constraints as a Driver of Serial Innovation

The Role of Constraints as a Driver of Serial Innovation

By Susana Gonzalez Ruiz

by Susana Gonzalez Ruiz

Focused on the importance of resources and strategies, the key role of constraints as a trigger for innovations is often overlooked. This is the case of Factum Arte, a company I’ve contacted to learn more about their model of innovation.

Based in Madrid (Spain), Factum Arte consists of a multidisciplinary team of artists, conservators, engineers and software developers devoted to the conservation of artistic heritage and the production of works for contemporary artists.

Among their modern art projects, we could highlight the collaboration with the British sculptor Marc Quinn to create the sculpture “Planet”, a giant bronze sculpture of a baby, using 3D scanning technology from a model of a few centimeters.

In the field of heritage conservation, surely the facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb is their best-known work. A 3D laser scanner created a map of the surfaces and the structure of the tomb, reproducing it physically in three dimensions. Simultaneously, a high-resolution photographic recording provided a complete map of the surface that was subsequently printed on an elastic sheet which fitted the surface like a skin, exactly matching colors and reliefs.

All of their works have required the combination of contemporary technology and traditional techniques, obtaining this was a curious blend of craftsmanship and technology. Each new project has involved the development of new technologies and, after an interview with the Contemporary Art Project Coordinator Miqui Guillén, I concluded that, in fact, Factum Arte could be described as an innovation company.

Sometimes, projects have required the modification or adaptation of existing technology, as in the case of digital printers for rigid supports that were not capable of reaching the level of perfection needed to digitally print large-format photographs on wood.

On other occasions, innovation has started from scratch. This is the case of the Lucida 3D Scanner, created and developed by the artist Manuel Franquelo, cofounder of Factum Arte, capable of scanning paintings and other surfaces that require the highest accuracy and resolution, reproducing cracks, fissures, textures, surfaces and even brush strokes.

Beyond the work carried out and the technology developed, what led me to contact Factum Arte was their ability to innovate with each new project. Which are the key factors that encourage and facilitate this serial innovation? Could we draw some conclusions to apply to other sectors and companies?

A highly qualified multidisciplinary team and weekly meetings where members organically contribute to overcome the challenges and devise new solutions are obviously some of the key elements of their innovative capacity. However, as the interview progressed, it became clear that along with human and technical resources there were other factors that have fostered innovation: constraints.

First, projects carried out by Factum Arte are characterized by their wide diversity, embracing works as different as Da Vinci’s Last Supper and the latest sculpture by Anish Kapoor. This diversity also affects the materials with which they work (paper, wood, metal, resin…) and techniques (3D scanner, painting, routing…). As a result, the technologies used in a project often cannot be implemented in other works without developing adaptations.
Second, in Guillén’s words, they “work perfection”. Whether for the production of works for contemporary artists or facsimiles, their goal is to achieve accuracy. An approximate result is not acceptable in this type of projects and, consequently, most times they have no choice but to create technology able to achieve the degree of precision required.

Finally, sculptures are not smartphones. We are not talking about the production of large amounts of standardized products that provides a tangible return on innovation investment. Consequently, the Factum Arte team of designers, engineers and software developers must overcome the technical challenge of creating economically viable solutions.

These three constraints (the impossibility of using the same technology for different projects, the requirement to achieve perfection and the need to find viable solutions) have been, in fact, major drivers of innovation. Possibly, without the limitations imposed by these factors, they wouldn’t have had the need to constantly innovate. If we know how to take advantage of them, constraints can be as important as resources to foster innovation.

Image Courtesy of

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.