January 15, 2018

Magic Air of Collaboration


January 15, 2018

Magic Air of Collaboration



As I sit and write in this little office of mine tucked away in The Lab I can’t help but feel that a greatness is brewing in these walls. I’m here by myself before everyone else has arrive, and it’s given a moment to reflect.


This morning I watched a short eight-minute documentary about Barbara Stauffocher and her Supergraphics at The Sea Ranch Tennis Club.  She told her story of how she became a graphic designer and about her collaborative work with some of the great and artistic minds that she was working with during late 60’s. Their work, and a completely blown budget, lead to her iconic Supergraphic. Shortly after finishing the project it ended up in a Time magazine article, and became an international sensation. The influence of the Supergraphic is still being copied and re-jigged as an inspiration all over the world today. At the time of making her work, there is no way Ms Stauffocher could have known the eventual scale and reach that she would have through that one installation. She just knew that they were doing things differently with a focus on doing it really well.


I imagine that the same air of inspiration The Sea Ranch Tennis Club Team felt as they worked together on their project probably breathed itself around Steve Job and his team as they started building computer in his parent’s garage.

I feel that same air every time I step into The Lab! And it’s not just me. The comment we hear the most from visitors and members when they walk into The Lab is “it has a beautiful feeling about it.” I like to think that it is the air of inspiration that swirls about. There is an energy about this place that is life-giving to dreams and ideas. As I sit here, I inhale it, deeply hoping that the inspiration and motivation it holds travels unhindered from my lungs to my heart!


On a scientific level, I am very aware that we breathe the same air here as everyone else; we don’t have Magic Air. However, I am reminded of one important lessons daily as I walk through The Lab doors…no man is an island.  No great feats of strength or new ideas were ever born in isolation It is the understanding of this truth that gives power and direction in this space. Collaboration is one of the constants of success.

We have spent so much of our life trying to become self-made men and women. According to our culture it is morally noble to not accept, let alone ask, for the help of others. We have idolised the archetype of The Lone Ranger and the singular nomad making a place for himself in the world, yet these icons always suffer the consequences of a singular existence.


In reality, it isn’t magic air, but collaboration that is at the heart of these walls. Collaboration is the water and soil and air that helps seeds of ideas to grow into healthy, fruitful outcomes. As I look at all the fluorescent bubbles hanging above each of the Labbie’ s desks, I can’t help but to know that there is greatness ahead for each one of them, for each one of them is a Change-Maker and a Collaborator.

Only time and retrospection will show what glorious and miraculous ideas will grow from this Petrie dish of a social experiment. Whatever it is though, surely it will be a sight to behold! I can’t help but wonder if in 45 years’ time we will look back and pinpoint this place as the place where greatness happened.

As I sit here in The Lab, I take a deep breath, because here is where life-giving comes to ideas that eventually flourish… surrounded by others.