Vision Earth Prototypes

Vision eARTh prototypes a party, January 30th

In the unfolding story of our collaboration with the Vision eARTh festival team, we ended our last meeting with them hyped to host a design thinking event at their festival (more on that later!) and also excited to teach the festival team our design thinking ways so they could apply the process to redesigning the arts party and festival experience.

A team of Design Initiative ninjas (shout out to Rob Ryan ’11, Mattias Lanas ’11, Shuqiao Song ’11, Ariana Koblitz ’12, Kingston Tam ’13, Nishant Jacob ’13, and Michelle Lee ’14) came together and coached the festival team through a two hour d.thinking bootcamp.  

We led them through an entire iteration of the process through short lectures followed a frenzy of activities that ended in prototyping their ideas for a redesign of the arts party experience.

I won’t reveal too many of their surprises, but look forward to a giant suspended globe and lots of fun interactive art installations at the party!

Also special thanks to the d.leadership teaching staff especially Thomas Both, our group advisor Bill Burnett, and Isabel O’Meara for helping us put together lecture materials for the workshop.  



Negotiation Workshop, January 27th

Negotiation Workshop, January 27th

This Thursday Rob put on a Negotiation workshop in the concept-car space. We played an oil-pricing war out as a simulation between teams of designers, keeping score with a case study devised by the Harvard Law Program on Negotiation. We started out by splitting into teams of four, separated across the space.

Each team was either Alba, or Batia, two countries which were “trading” to another, unnamed country. The Harvard case study expressed the possible profits and losses of each country as a matrix. Teams were forbidden from communicating, and told they would only be allowed slips of paper to send prices to the other country. We played a full ten rounds, which means each group set a price ten times. By summing their profits, a team could come up with one measure of success; they could find out who “won” the oil trade wars.
Negotiation Workshop
Some of the designers had been in similar simulations before, and tried to urge their countries toward a calm and cooperative approach. Soon, though, Batia began to underbid Alba in a calculated play to maximize profits. Slips of paper flew back and forth at five-minute intervals, and pressures began to rise. By the eighth round, Alba’s team members shouted their frustration with every new slip of bad news.

We allowed ambassadors from each team to talk for thirty seconds after the third and sixth rounds. Each ambassador tried to make a hurried case for the actions of their team, and promise peace in the future. Soon, though, Batia was back to old tricks — by the end, Alba had sorely lost the trade wars, and glumly came back to the Concept Car space to debrief.

Negotiation Workshop

We discussed the implications of our negotiation simulation, with a bias toward the interpretation of the Harvard Negotiation faculty. Rob shared a little from Negotiation, the business theory class run every spring. We discussed the idea of ethical negotiation that the Stanford Business School promotes: maintaining trust with honesty and cooperation. Finally, we discussed the similarities between design problem-solving and negotiation problem-solving. Ideally, both situations are creative cooperative ventures for all involved.


Design Initiative Workshops are Thursdays at 8 PM, succeeding a social at 7:30, typically in Bldg 550.  Contact Tito Balsamo if you have an idea for a workshop and/or would like to help organize one.


Design Initiative meets Vision eARTh, January 23rd

Design Initiative meets Vision eARTh, January 23rd

One sunny afternoon outside on the grassy knoll of the new engineering quad some Stanford kids got together to talk about their plans for putting on an epic art & sustainability festival at our school to inspire a beautiful collective “Vision (for) Earth”.  Fortunately, there were some Design Initiative members at this powwow and after some discussion, all the students agreed that this would be an excellent opportunity for some radical collaboration.    

The Sunday following, a few members of the Design Initiative (Rob Ryan ’11, Shuqiao Song ’11, and Kingston Tam ’13) went as ambassadors to Vision eARTh festival’s student committee meeting.  After some initial introductions between the diverse students and student groups represented at the meeting, the committee began to talk about one of the prelude events to the festival–an Arts party one month before that would introduce the idea of Vision eARTh to the student community at large.  After some discussion of the event at the table, Rob jumped to a whiteboard to begin writing down some ideas. This prompted Shuqiao to suggest that the committee divide up into teams to do some brainstorming.  One thing led to another and before you could say “ideation!”, four enthusuastic and energetic teams filled several whiteboards with ideas of event possibilities for the arts party. What a great impromptu brainstorm session!

[photo credit to Ali McKeon]

In our “brainwriting” session, we had everyone gather around the table and each person was given a piece of paper and a pen.  Everyone had the same prompt of coming up with names or theme ideas for the arts party and everyone was given just 2 minutes to put as many of their ideas on the paper as they could.  At the end of the 3 minutes, each person passed their piece of paper to the right and continued brainstorming on the new piece of paper.  We encouraged everyone to be inspired by others ideas and build off of existing ideas on the paper as well as coming up with more novel ones on their own.  We continued this until each person had the piece of paper they started with, except now each piece of paper was completely filled up with ideas! 

The committee was impressed that they had just come up with nearly a hundred name ideas in less than an hour!  To end the session, we had a fun group share-out of each of the best party names on the piece of paper we had.  (Not to sway the final decision or anything, but some of my personal favorites included: “Garden of Leland” and “Hot Mess Earth” –don’t those sound like awesome parties you’d want to go to?!)

The Vision eARTh committee was so excited about our design thinking collaboration that they have asked us to teach them our process and host an event at the festival, so look out for more good stuff coming soon to a theater near you. :)

Bottle Lights Workshop, January 20th

Bottle Lights Workshop, January 20th

Thursday, Clare Bennet lead the Design Initiative and friends in a workshop on intro-level electronics in the EMA laboratory, located in Cummings Art Building. Participants were guided through the process of converting glass bottles into lights. Special thanks to Tito Balsamo for securing all the necessary tools and materials. If you did not attend the workshop but would like to make a bottle light anyways, the following instructions should get you started.
Bottle Lights Workshop

Materials: LEDs, battery holder, 2 triple-A batteries, wire, button (switch), bottle, electrical tape, solder

Tools: wire-strippers, wire-cutters, soldering iron, clamps

Design your circuits according to the diagram below.  Use the slack wire to affect how the lights dangle into the mouth of the bottle.  We suggest you allow easy access to both the battery pack and the button in the final design.  Start with a working circuit and then extend it to your heart’s content.  We did not discover the maximum sustainable number of leds.  Hint: leds are directional, i.e. it matters which of the two wires goes where.

Once your circuit is complete, use clamps to hold the joints in place, and the solder and soldering iron to fuse them.  Be careful with the soldering iron!  Do not touch it anywhere but the handle, even if the iron has been turned off for some time.

About Us

Design Initiative Workshops are Thursdays at 8 PM, succeeding a social at 7:30, typically in Bldg 550.  Contact Tito Balsamo if you have an idea for a workshop and/or would like to help organize one.