Silicon Valley’s 91-year-old designer

Home / Wisdom of others / Silicon Valley’s 91-year-old designer

Barbara Knickerbocker-Beskind talks about her life long passion for inventing.

This week we read the article about Barbara in BBC News Magazine and were truly inspired by her life-long innovation journey. Below you can find an extract of the article giving an exemplary approach to: “how to apply to IDEO at the age of 89”. At the very bottom you can also click through the original article to read the full story.

I tried to retire five times – as an OT, as a private practitioner, as an author – but it never works. I went back to school to become an artist in 1997 and that has been helpful in drawing my inventions.

In 2013, I saw David Kelley – the founder of the design firm IDEO – on the TV programme 60 minutes. When I realised he accepted, and really respected, people from a varied background, I thought, “I have a unique kind of life experience and designing skills – I could be of value to their firm.” I was 89.

I typed a letter, which might have caught their attention because they don’t get many communications by “snail mail”- I have macular degeneration so my eyesight prevents me from using computers.

Within a week I got a response. They were just starting to design implements that would be helpful to the ageing, and so it was very fortuitous that I arrived at that time.

Every Thursday I walk three blocks to the train station – I know all the conductors now. I arrive at either the Palo Alto or San Francisco IDEO office around 10:00 and often sit on the same sofa, so that everyone knows where to find me. Word spreads from the front desk and people will arrange appointments with me for ongoing client projects. People will also stop by to talk about what is going on with various projects – it’s an extremely collaborative environment.

Read the full article

We'd love to hear from you

Do you have any questions or thoughts in the context of innovation then please get in touch!

Start typing and press Enter to search