Fast Company

In the White Room ... No Idea Goes Undocumented at Stanford

Cognitive scientists say our short term memories can only hold on to between five and nine things, max, at any one time. Which means, if you have a brilliant insight on, say, how to solve your company's supply chain problems and your brain is already at capacity, that idea could be bounced by a fleeting thought, like "Wonder what I should have for lunch?"

Won't likely happen at the new Stanford The entire space is designed for idea capture, with whiteboard walls, Post-it Notes proliferating like confetti, big 3-M pads of paper, and markers and crayons readily at hand.

In the most radical, Zen-like space in the place, a small room, furnished only with a big white ottoman, is literally painted in whiteboard paint. If your ideas outgrow the walls, brainstorm on down to the floor.

"This white room is one of our most-used spaces," says executive director George Kembel (above). "Your ideas are the color that fill the room."

Read more about Stanford's new building

[Photo by Noah Webb]

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  • scott witthoft

    Prezi is a really cool tool. It is continually interesting and informative to see how students use capture/collaborate/share tools
    such as Prezi, Nota, Google docs, flickr, etc. It is also interesting to see when and how physical and tactile tools become the
    default. The interplay between the digital and physical tools creates an excellent challenge for creating spaces that can
    service prototyping a cookstove as well as brainstorming about bicycles. A "socks-only" approach might be a good step
    toward keeping everything clean... or maybe full-body brooms. We'll have to try it!

  • Peggy Dallas

    Prezi lets you organize ideas on the computer in the same sort of fashion. It won't get rubbed out and it easier to remold as the ideas evolve.