The D-School (Institute of Design at Stanford) pride’s itself on a napkin sized manifesto, with a simple, but grand objective written in bold black letters “Create the best design school ever. Period.” The napkin goes on to list how to achieve this goal: 1. Prepare future innovators to be breakthrough thinkers and doers, 2. Use design thinking to inspire multidisciplinary teams, 3. Foster radical collaboration between students, faculty and industry and 4. Tackle big projects and use prototyping to discover new solutions.
Recently the D-School sent four students on a mission to apply their napkin manifesto to the Outdoor Sculpture Maintenance Program at the Cantor Art Center, and they were radically successful. Calder Hughes, Kristen Dobson, Michelle Daoud and Julia Jezmir shadowed Elizabeth Saetta, Outdoor Sculpture coordinator and object conservator, and the crew of students who maintain the sculptures on campus. Through observations and interviews the D-School team recognized the needs of the program and offered solutions.
The “Art Cart” is used to transport both the crew and their supplies around campus to accomplish the constant preventative maintenance required for over 100 sculptures, as well as to deal with the latest conservation treatment issues (ie. graffiti or metal corrosion). Conservation of art, including outdoor sculpture, involves specific training in not only art, but also chemistry and material science. Although the cart is functional, it does not denote the importance of the work it helps to accomplish.
What the D-School recognized was not just a problem, but an opportunity.
Currently, through economical use of space and crafty design, the cart enables the crew to get themselves and their supplies where they need to go, but the cart’s present condition doesn’t represent the specific training, or meticulous work they do. The D-School produced a prototype to meet the broader needs of outdoor sculpture conservation. The updated cart prototype offers well laid out storage space, with specific conservation equipment in mind, and even more importantly it has transformed into mobile advertisement to help the campus community better understand the significance of the task at hand, the preservation of a world class outdoor sculpture collection.