Art Center College of Design

On the last SE Asia trip to Kuala Lumpur, Earthaware had the distinct privilege of teaching alongside Founder and Director of the GGI Neuro Science Institute of Los Angeles, Dr. G. Phd. A fast friendship was formed during the days of the KL workshops, over dinners of Malaysian curries with a collection of laughing and boisterous locals and risky experimentation with a fragrant "delicacy", the infamous Durian fruit.

Once back in the States we have kept up our communication going, sharing more and more on the backbone of the Earthaware experience: Flow State Learning. Dr. G. has taught at Art Center in Pasadena, CA since the mid 90s and graciously invited me to be a guest speaker in her current course: Design Science while I was on my scheduled Los Angeles visit.

We set the date and coordinated with timing and directions to the College. The drive through Pasadena was lovely although I arrived late to campus having misjudged L.A. traffic... again. Art Center is up atop a hill overlooking the L.A. basin and Pasadena with green grounds and smart buildings. I parked in the faculty lot then found the classroom with 15 design students and Dr G. waiting.

We started my part of the lesson with a history of how Earthaware was spawned and a summary of projects that led to the current workshop process; from the Seattle Public Library to the Wieden+Kennedy Nest and from the HaitiHands art-wall to the Kuala Lumpur Hut/Village. All the while having inspirational brain awareness and spatial thinking content merged into the presentation by Dr. G. Half way through class we had the group break into three teams for an impromptu exercise loosely based upon Earthaware processes.

We started by having each person draw an image, a doodle, of their favorite charachter or personal icon. We encouraged silliness and cuteness. Then, in their groups, we asked them to merge elements of their characters into a collectively made thing-a-ma-jig by drawing elements of each persons creation collectively on the whiteboards that wrapped the room. Each team came up with very different looking entities: one a big eyed furry squirrel eater, next a flamingo with scales and an calamari mouth and third a feathered unicorn with a beak. They laughed and joked and bathed in Oxytocin as they co-created their crazy fun beings... then the gavel fell.

Each team presented a meaning and some form of definition for their babies then Dr. G. got out the cleaver. She asked them to take away, with the erasers, the least important elements of the beasts. Teams were hesitant to do this as one members creativity needed to be clipped, cast off and deleted. It was interesting and palpable watching the squirming until moves were made. One team executed the elements of a team member who left the room for a moment, another team saw a member throw up her hands and kill her own element so that the class could move on. It was a bit sad until we all offered opinion on the final results which were all agreed to be better than the first finale.

Dr. G. had us reflect on the tastes and feelings of the different stages of the creation process done as individuals then as team in the coming togethers and the tearings apart as we cycled through the 30 minute exercise. We gained awareness of the deeper inner workings of activating different parts of the Hippocampus through the attachment and release to our work.

I'll bring elements of this learning and ways of teaching forward into future Earthaware curriculum.

Read Dr. G's very interesting blog on brain awareness here: