Inside ‘The Looking Lab,’ a Princeton course where visual arts spark entrepreneurial thinking

Written by
Jamie Saxon, Office of Communications
June 22, 2022

Lucy Partman believes that sometimes you have to get as far away from technology as possible to hatch the next great innovation.

For the first assignment for her new course “Looking Lab: Experiments in Visual Thinking and Thinking About Visuals,” she told her students: Ditch your phone, walk away from your computer, choose one object — a real object, not a digital image — and look at it for 10 solid minutes. Then draw it — not as an artist would but just a simple sketch.  Annotate it with details about its components like colors and materials. Then write one page about the experience.

Partman’s “Looking Lab” is the first course at Princeton to marry the visual arts and entrepreneurship. In the first half of the semester, students learn the skills of “close looking” and research the experience of close looking itself; in the second half, they work in teams as entrepreneurs to design new tools to help people engage with the visual world and each other.