Cultivate curiosity.
Create possibility.

Designing Possibility, Designing Environments, Designing for Life

Do you ever look at something  – a gadget, a house, a room, a play or a musical performance – with a sense of awe, of amazement at the creativity and innovation that it took to produce it?

I do. All the time.  I am  blown away at the things that we humans create, and often experience a kind of healing by viewing, listening to, or seeing them.  Frequently, people  I work with in therapy guffaw (on a good day) when I suggest that they can create their lives, and create with whatever is happening, whether it is “good” or “bad”. We then begin to question the assumptions they have about themselves and their problems, and that opens up new possibilities; they begin to create new ways of seeing and being – of creating their lives.

If you have any doubts about the creativity that is uniquely human, all you have to do is look to design. Design, by definition a creative activity, is after all, even if aided by technology, generated by humans. The most innovative design comes from people having the ability to look at an existing structure or system and ask new questions, and challenge the assumptions about what is, and what is possible.

Last month, Interior Design magazine published “100 Big Ideas.” As Cindy Allen, editor in chief, so beautifully says, “May they inspire you not just to wish for the unimaginable but also to realize it, to be your own dream-maker.”

Here are some of my favorite projects in the education realm. We are not talking about designing curriculum; we are talking about designing the environment and functionality of space to add more possibility to education.

This is Sprout Space designed by Perkins + Will. Beyond its beauty, this learning space is net-zero, affordable, flexible (it’s modular) and completely sustainable. This space will help children ask new questions.

Photo by Perkins + Will

Photo by Perkins + Will


Andre Kikoski Architects designed an innovative space for children in crisis at a domestic violence shelter here in New York City.  By using bright finishes and a streamlined layout, they made an improved recreational and educational space, helping children cultivate their curiosity and create possibility for their lives.

Photo by Kate Glicksberg

Photo by Kate Glicksberg

In Playa Vista, California, Handbuilt and Osborn Architects have created possibility at an elementary school. Their design teaches the children about sustainability with fun kid-friendly graphics. The knowledge of sustainability will become second nature—leading to possibility for our planet.

Photo courtesy of Edmund Barr

Photo courtesy of Edmund Barr

What you see below is not actually a school bus. It is part of a fund-raising campaign to support LA’s public schools. A dozen modes of transport have been painted to look like school buses. One side reads “Learn to Dream” and the other, “Aprende a Soñar.” This is the work of artist John Baldessari. While this might be considered an installation, I think the motive and the message is educational. Learning to dream is one step in the practice of creating possibility in your life.

Photo by Joshua White

Photo by Joshua White

More favorites to come! Until then, take a look at the article’s 100 Big Ideas and allow them to inspire you to ask new questions, cultivate your curiosity and create possibility for your life. What might you like to redesign?

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Karen Steinberg