Fresh ideas about design
Well, if you are anything like me, it is time to step away from your desk and start tossing ideas around with your peers and colleagues.
One theme that came up again and again at the SCUP Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Drexel University last week was that innovation flourishes when people of different backgrounds, interests and experiences come together. Drexel is setting a tremendous example in fostering fertile spaces for this sort of creative ideation.
Stepping foot inside of the URBN Center is like walking into a frenetic arts-centered beehive. Open floors, layers of glass, inspiring nooks and crannies and “making” spaces flub any distinctions between architecture, fashion design, graphic design, package design, gaming, or interior design, which comprise the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Pulsing with inspiration, it is hard not to grab a blob of clay, fabric swatches, or balsa planks and find a way to… animate them… as part of an app… that becomes a movie trailer… projected on the side of an old factory… You can almost see an idea work its way up from the ground floor as it bounces around from “department” to department, gathering momentum and taking shape.
It is especially interesting to see how innovation is being fueled at many different scales. Drexel’s ExCITe Center, designed by Strada, was a big hit during the conference. Largely a big open petri dish, it fuses the arts with STEM to develop things like wearable energy storage devices. Here ideas cut across ages, talents, areas of study, research and even commercial enterprise.
Christopher Gray, a Drexel student majoring in Entrepreneurship, had my mind swirling during his presentation. He is a member of the Dorm Room Fund, a student-run venture firm that invests in student-run companies. This group has 24/7 access to a cool space run by First Round Capital out by Penn that coincidentally housed the first Urban Outfitters. Exposed brick, a café kitchen, moveable furniture and tech-intensive meeting spaces nurture those wonderfully uninhibited late-night college ideas.
The energy emanating from all of these spaces is palpable. Good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. And it appears that when they are thrown into a blender of perspectives and talents, they only blossom and become richer with a greater chance of implementation. So get talking, get your thoughts out there and see where they take you.
At Strada, we “Design with People in Mind®,” as we recently gave name to a practice we continually partake in. It emphasizes how the people we design for are the backbone of our creations; they are the faces and the stories responsible for the transformation.
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