Design & Prototyping

with Devika Patel and Natalie Griffen

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What inspires you?

Devika Patel

Co-founder of Orenda, Stanford Student, Product Designer

Natalie Griffen

Designer, Incessant Doodler, Coffee Lover

Lessons Learned

Every opportunity can become inspiration.

Non academic pursuits, even athletics, may introduce you to your professional passions.

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Lesson: Design & Prototyping with Devika Patel & Natalie Griffen

Step #10 Inspiration: What inspires you?

Devika: My contact with the autism community started when I was in high school, where I did community service for a school for children with autism. I worked with high-schoolers who were my age. I was able to play with them. I ended up becoming a science teacher aid and helping them with their lab experiments. Through my experiences, I really felt a connection to the community and really enjoyed working with individuals with autism. That was my first step into the community.

I came to Stanford. I decided I wanted to pursue engineering and I realized that the intersection of technology and social impact can be a little fuzzy here, especially at Stanford, and I realized that it would be really awesome if there was a way to mold those two together. I happened to be on TED one day, watching TED Talks and I happened to go about watching one on autism. It was by Temple Grandin, and she spoke about technology in autism and how Silicon Valley of all places has a really high rate of autism genetics. 

That was really interesting to me and I was like, "Wait. I'm in Silicon Valley right now. Why don't I know about this if I'm living here?" From that I did some own research, got connected with Design for America, and saw that my passion or my interest in molding technology and social impact together was feasible at Stanford, especially through the lens of Design for America.

Natalie: So the shoe project came about a little bit randomly and it came from a conversation that I had with my sophomore year roommate in our room, just late at night. We were trying to think of what we wanted to do with our lives and what was our purpose and typical undergraduate worries.

I just decided I think that I want to design shoes just because that sounds fun, and I want to do something different, and for now I don't want to intern at a big tech company. I just want to do my own thing. So it was a bit of an escape for me to do something that I thought was really cool and I've always been in love with physical products, just tangible things. Shoes were something that especially interested me, because I mean as athlete you're given shoes that are sort of molded to your specific feet and I've always wondered, well, why don't I get that in really every facet of what I wear. 

That got me into the fashion footwear market, which is sort of an interesting thing just because when people even ask me even now like, "Oh, you must be into fashion." I'm really not, but I just really like physical things and that was something that sparked my interest.
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