For One Designer and Innovator, Human Connection Begins With a Simple Tool

David Kelley, founder of Ideo and the d.school at Stanford University, uses a rudimentary measuring device to empower his students—and make friends.
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Every gift my mom gave me from the time I was about 30 years old onward was something I had left at her house when I moved out. She called it "shopping in the basement." All the things she’s given back have been meaningful, but one object was in particular—this Brown & Sharpe vernier caliper, which I use for precise measurements. I purchased it some 40 years ago when I wasa graduate student and teacher’s assistant in the engineering department at Stanford, and around that time, I built a custom walnut box for a class project.

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