Creativity Abounds at the Foundry

Ever watch 3-year-olds play? They are joyful and curious and loud and messy.

In their own little ways, they also are fearless. If 3-year-olds want to try a new activity or toy, they go for it. They’re not afraid of making mistakes.

That sense of adventure is something that Janos Stone has witnessed in his children, ages 3 and 4. Stone is the manager of innovation and design spaces at Babson’s Weissman Foundry, which opened last year. Located along Map Hill Drive, the design and fabrication studio offers students a range of workspaces from which to build, collaborate, and delve into projects and ideas.

Students visiting the Foundry will find an impressive array of equipment available to them, from textile tools to video cameras to digital fabrication technology. But, Stone says the most important feature of the Foundry is its safe, collaborative culture. “That’s what makes this building critical and important,” he says. “That is our mission.”

Students are encouraged to try and fail and try again, much like a 3-year-old at play. “That’s what we’re all about,” says Stone, “the ability to explore the way a child explores, to not feel anxiety about what you make, to use whatever ideas or materials are necessary to get your work to where it needs to be.”

Cross-Pollination

Stone comes from a family of artists. Painters, photographers, and designers, they are people who are compelled to make stuff. “It’s in the blood,” Stone says.

Growing up, Stone always was making up games, building with Legos, and, as he got older, roaming the neighborhoods of Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was raised. “I call really creative people unfettered explorers,” says Stone. “I am one of those. I was always trying new stuff, and maybe trying stuff I shouldn’t have done.”

Today, Stone is a sculptor whose work has been shown in New York City and internationally. He’s also an entrepreneur and educator, having previously started three ventures and been on the faculty at Northeastern University.

Now, directing the Foundry, he leads a studio that is open, not only to students from Babson, but also to those from nearby Olin and Wellesley colleges.

When students from the three schools come together, Stone says, they can gain new perspectives from each other. “You get that mix. You get that cross-pollination that you can get nowhere else.”

We’re Open

Walk in the door of the Weissman Foundry, named for Babson trustee Robert Weissman ’64, H’94, P’87 ’90, and his wife, Jan Weissman P’87 ’90, and you find a place that feels warm and welcoming. Coffee and tea are always available, not to mention plenty of candy. There are many places to sit and gather. “Come in, we’re open,” reads a banner on the wall.

One of Stone’s jobs is to inspire students to walk in the door and try out this new space. The Foundry holds many events, such as the Blend, where students from the three colleges assemble to talk about shared interests. A Blend event in April focused on art and design, so students discussed fashion and architecture, music and visual art.

Students who staff the Foundry are known as scouts, and they support visitors with their projects and hold workshops on a long list of topics, from cooking to coding to pattern making for clothing. The Foundry also offers fellowships to teams of students working on a project. Those projects cover a wide variety of interests. Teams in the spring focused on, among other things, drones, movie scripts, wearable technologies, and startups.

Whatever interest or idea students may have, Stone says, they can pursue it at the Foundry. “I want them to feel more empowered to be creative in their endeavors, to take risks,” he says.

Featured photo credit: Tony Rinaldo

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