Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stanford d.School Tour

The Design School ("d.School") over at Stanford offers free tours for the public of their new building every other Friday. Being only 1.5 miles from my school, I jumped at the opportunity to attend last Friday's tour with eight parents from our school along and our global and community action coordinator, Heidi Chang. This proved to be an excellent opportunity to learn more about how the d.School uses space and the design process to cultivate curiosity, innovation, and creativity. The highly flexible spaces at the d.School have been designed to reflect nearly every mode of work, including group lectures, small team collaborations, and independent reflection-all in the same space, mind you. Fixtures with wheels, stackable foam blocks for seating, moveable t-shaped barrier walls that double as whiteboards, hangable large panel whiteboards that serve as space dividers, glass walled "huddle rooms," raw fixtures of all sorts, were all highly visible throughout the tour. As our tour guide and d.School fellow George pointed out, their space design "...makes it difficult to sit and talk for a long time...we want the space to promote rapid prototyping and quick and dirty trials." Equally as impressive as what I observed is what I didn't observe. You won't find traditional conference meeting rooms, private offices, or spaces with a formal, finished feel to them. These spaces are all about teaching the process of empathetic design-a process that rewards "spectacular failure" along with success.

Below you'll find several videos that I shot throughout the hour long tour. Hopefully this gives you a greater glimpse into my visit.

Video 1: This is typical of the rooms in the d.School. These are referred to as "Huddle Rooms" or "War Rooms." This particular room has a glass garage door that opens up into the main entry way to the d.School. I love the benches in these rooms-they allow people to sit and work in many different ways.

Video 2: I REALLY like the design of this circular table. At the center it has several outlets that are easily accessible for folks to charge their personal electronic devices.

Video 3: This room is an excellent example of flexibility in the design of learning spaces. This space facilitates all modes of work. The next four videos were all shot in this space:

Video 4: These rolling t-walls are incredible and allow for several rooms within a room to be quickly created. The insides of the t-walls serve as whiteboards.

Video 5

Video 6: Here you'll see how quickly a small group collaboration space can be created. The goal is to "create a space where anything can happen."

Video 7: More in the way of moveable fixtures and a glimpse into one of their second floor work spaces.

Video 8: A great example of rough and raw furnishings. One of their goals with the space is to create the "aesthetic of imperfection and an unfinished space." This leads to more student ownership and use of the space compared to highly finished, "museum" like spaces.

Video 9: These final two videos show a really clever design fixture. Whiteboard panels of various sizes that may be clipped onto rails and moved about. This serves the dual purpose of a space divider and a writeable surface.

Video 10

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