different shapes and figures. It made me realize that robotics and sculpture are
awesome, and I thought I could totally do that. So I applied to MIT for robotics.
I’ve also always been interested in sculpture. I took art classes since I
was very young. My mom is very artistic and creative. My dad is an industrial
designer, and I grew up around that kind of design. He worked for GE so
I was always entering the shows and contests they had for employees’
children. I was constantly around his marker palettes and they were just so
smelly. We would even go on car trips and my dad would bring all these
markers, and I can remember the four of us and the dog in this marker-smelling
car from New York to Wisconsin. So these influences probably somehow got
into my brain in many, many different ways.
It all came together: the physics, sculpture, learning to work with my hands,
and always loving color. I was actually blind for a little while so my eyes are
a little different from other people’s, and I see a little bit differently in some
respects. I have a very big appreciation for the things I see, and color, and
subtlety. All of these things were forces in my life that pushed me in the direction
of physics, design, art, color. It was sort of a confluence of everything.
I&S: How have you applied your background to product design?
JB: When I went back to MIT for robotics, I was still thinking of becoming an
astronaut, going into space, and being a mission specialist instead of flying the
shuttle. That was my intention. But after being there I realized one of the things I
loved the most—which was a huge surprise—was working in a machine shop.
Most of my friends were guys and they taught me so much about everything
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a shelf and