This article has a two fold story. Our featured Author of the Month is Jason Deperro, an artist and experience design lead at Capital One. We were an unlikely recipient of a wonderful partnership thanks to Jason volunteering as an artist with us at our destination workshop at Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica. Here below in Jason's words.

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I am a volunteer artist for Kids & Art. I get more from the kids than I provide them. That’s right, you read my words right – I get more than I give. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Every time I leave a session I am torn, on the one-hand I feel energized and inspired by the work and the kids positivity and youthful perspective that gives me a new lens on the world and art. On the other hand, I feel that I have not brought them the same joy.

Art has always played an important role in my life. As a child my mother was a champion of my passion for art, helping to expose my young mind to different media and art history in classes and at museums. The feeling of making something new and beautiful with your hands is unlike anything, a feeling I am thankful I got to experience at a young age. I hope to be able to share this feeling of accomplishment with the kids.

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Purvi Shah, Executive Director of Kids & Art, took a chance and invited me to participate in the healing workshops as a volunteer artist. I hadn’t been a practicing artist in years, but she knew my background as a designer and artist. She took a chance on me and I am grateful. This opportunity has rekindled my passion for art. It is no mystery how I fell out of practice – life happened. Job, kids, errands, it’s easy to fill time with the busy nature of daily life. Preparing for the workshop was a real deadline. I needed to show up prepared with a lesson, an example and a plan on how to help the kids have fun and as a byproduct have something beautiful.

Preparing for my first workshop was a bit nerve wracking for me. I wanted to create a perfect example project. I had to remind myself it isn’t about a perfect vision, but to have fun and express myself. I could feel the old sensations and sense of wonderment return as I created a painting in preparation for the workshop. It wasn’t my best work, it even took me a few tries to get back into the swing of things.

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On the day of the healing workshop, I had the pleasure of working with two kids and they made four paintings. We made such a mess splattering paint, it was a blast. In making the art in that session I realized that my measurement of a successful session would be amount of laughter and size of the mess – the output of a painting is secondary to me. I have noticed when we’re having fun, the art is usually beautiful.

What I want to talk about is the partnership that came out of this opportunity. The VR headsets you see above come with a special story, you won’t see headsets like these anywhere else, I guarantee it. These are Google Cardboard headsets with heart. The VR goggles are designed with the artwork of children from the Kids & Art Foundation.

This story isn’t simply about headsets, but of an unlikely partnership between a bank, book manufacturing company and a non-profit. Everyone involved had one thing in common — an excitement around the idea of sharing the joy of making a positive, inspiring impact with VR storytelling.

Each year Capital One designers from all over the country come together for a day of collaboration, learning, strategy, inspiration and creation. This year’s ONE Design all-hands was a very special one for me and The Creative Technology Group at Capital One. CTG had the privilege of providing one of the workshops by presenting a tutorial on using 360 video for designers. We kicked off the session with a special surprise by distributing a Google Cardboard headset to each designer, but not just any headset…

Creative Technology Group

The Creative Technology Group (CTG) spends our time exploring the landscape of emerging technologies from a design perspective. We are always on the look-out for new interesting experiences. We are bullish on 360 video as it is becoming simple to capture and share stories in ways that drive even deeper emotional connections. There is a catch, 360 films are only as good as the headset the user is wearing when watching them.

We began seeking a headset that would make our videos and apps feel like high-quality immersive experiences. Noelle Page, our producer, found Powis VR. Before we found Powis we tried half-a-dozen headsets that all suffered from flaws making them too heavy, expensive, leak light into the headset and fall off our faces.

Powis VR

Powis Parker, began as a bookbinding company. Sensing the changing times, they began creating products for digital devices using their processes. Because of it’s lineage the Powis Google Cardboard viewer has many attributes of a fine hardcover book binding.

These are the headset graphics rolling off the printer at Powis

These are the headset graphics rolling off the printer at Powis

Here is our 360 video tour of their factory if you’d like to be right there with us! They are one of the few remaining manufacturing facilities left in Berkeley. They are craftsmen and deeply care about making beautiful work, an ethos I believe shows in the quality of their work.

The headsets after being trimmed to shape, but before folding into their final form.

The headsets after being trimmed to shape, but before folding into their final form.

Capturing Empathy with 360 Video

Here are the designs of Capital One trying out their new headsets.

Here are the designs of Capital One trying out their new headsets.

The stage was set, we had our 360 video workshop prepared and our headsets were hidden Oprah style for our unsuspecting attendees. In our workshop session we go from concept to a live 360 film on Youtube in an hour. Check out some sample films on our ONE Design Youtube Channel — isn’t it thrilling, right? All three sessions were very creative with their approaches to filming a group 360 film.

Capital One along with Kids & Art worked out a brilliant idea that for every headset Capital One purchased one would go towards a Kids & Art child. Sharing these headsets and getting the enthusiasm for the project has meant a lot to me and the Capital One team. To me it illustrates that Capital One is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty not just on our products, but down to the details of a simple meeting giveaway. The details count, especially in the craft of design.

Every headset came with a pamphlet highlighting some of the best games, apps and VR videos to help users find cool content to download onto their phones the headsets.

Every headset came with a pamphlet highlighting some of the best games, apps and VR videos to help users find cool content to download onto their phones the headsets.

In the grand scheme of life the gifts we give out at our events isn’t that important. What made it meaningful to me is that everyone involved was willing to go the distance for a simple project with a good heart. These pictures says it all for me, look at the smiles on everyones face as they experiences a VR video for the first time. (photos taken at various Kids & Art destination workshops).

Kids & Art

A few of us with CTG spend our time volunteering with Kids & Art a local bay area non-profit that provides healing art workshops for kids dealing with cancer and their families. The artwork these children create is stunning. We felt there is no better partnership than between ONE Design, Kids & Art and Powis. The artwork emblazoned on the headsets was created by children in treatment or recovering from cancer and their family members.

I am excited to report the first headsets were given over this entire year. Look at these kids! The image above makes all the work worthwhile for the team. The look on these kid’s faces is what it was all for. That look of wonderment these kids are sporting is amazing. I didn’t capture this same look on a designer’s face, but I know the feelings were mutual for a few of us.

You Can Get Headsets Too

Give the gift of VR in 2017! Each purchase puts $25 towards a healing workshop and you get a bonus booklet on fun VR experiences. You can get your VR headset here.

Author of the Month