How I Experienced a Brain Brightening Design Experience at Stanford

How I Experienced a Brain Brightening Design Experience at Stanford

written by: Julie Renee Doering
by: Julie Renee Doering
Standord Standord

I'm back! I had a wonderful very full 3 days at Stanford University. While there I learned, grew and became familiar with a fresh new way of creation, one the brightest and best new minds coming out of Silicon Valley use to become well funded creative geniuses!

I was part of a Design Think program taught by all the senior professors of this group. This was the 11th time they taught it, the group was very good at delivering the message, inspiring and encouraging new ways of prototyping and thinking. For me, it was a big shift from traditional education, as you were encouraged to make prototypes that failed, learn from them and make better ones, rapidly. The second day we did 11 prototypes in all, only 5 people actually finished the last one, we were all pretty fried....

....but just as I was thinking I don't have it in me to do more, I walked out of the design studio to the restroom, noticed the snack table was still in place, and my mind started percolating once more. To my first design I added a raspberry atop a small light and an opened bag of chai tea for scent, with an image of notes on a scale made from pipe cleaner (representing music coming from my illumination device). This made it more fully sensory — I was delighted with myself, got lovely praise from the professor, and a round of applause from the weary students, some still creating, all so grateful to be there.

Another prototype was to create something to touch that would evoke an emotional and personality. My colleagues were making pipe cleaner spiders, which I said would not scare anyone, so I grabbed tin foil and feathers and created a sculpted scorpion, ran out to the snack table to get some honey to make the feel gross, added feathers, with pointy toothpicks to all the ends of legs, tail, and sculpey head. It was a wonderful success, scary and icky. Our second was a feeling of happy comfort — a cup wrapped with a tiny boa of feathers and cotton balls filling the insides, also loved by the judges.

We were asked constantly to think out of the box, try something zany or crazy, but keep going, you're attempting to create something not yet created. There was much encouragement, keeping us going for more asking for moe from ourselves.

As I drove up to Stanford, having dropped Adelia at Montessori school, I wondered how it would go, would I fit in? Funny enough the professor who started off the class looked right at me and said, now Julie is likely a very creative person, calling attention to me within the first 10 minutes, saying this one and all others less creative are in the right place.

With such intense stimulation, doing my very best given who I am, I really pushed myself for more. Like Adelia says to me often: One more (on mo) mama..and then when I give her one more she says it again: on mo mama.

Adelia was there, in the evening Wednesday, didn't sleep unfortunately. Thursday she spent much of her day with Rebecca and was able to join me at lunch and supper and then head back to school herself Friday morning. I didn't know how anything was going to work out, did as much planning as i could and it went surprisingly well.

I left feeling as if I had awoken a part of me that needed to be shaken and reawakened, my fun playful creative self. My mind felt refreshed, and revitalized. I had use parts of my brain I hadn't done for years and I felt smarter — sharper, happier, more excited about the future. Immersion can be an amazing thing.

Which just this moments gets me thinking about restoring some part of our immersion program, a couple week-long trainings over the course of a year. Hmmm food for thought!