Grace Hawthorne is an entrepreneur, artist, author and educator. She is the Founder/CEO of Paper Punk, an award winning Origami meets LEGO mashup that helps people exercise their creativity and Foldmade, an innovative work supply system that helps people get stuff done. As an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University’s design institute (aka: the, she teaches courses on creativity and failure and started a groundbreaking research project on creative capacity building published in Science and covered by Wired magazine. Previously, she founded ReadyMade, the culturally groundbreaking design magazine that ignited the maker movement, and led its acquisition by Meredith Corporation (NASDAQ: MDP). She co-authored the critically acclaimed book on reuse design, ReadyMade: How to Make (Almost) Everything (Random House/Potter). Her artwork has been exhibited in several national museums including the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Triennial. Her products can be found on shelves of mass retailers nationwide. Grace has dedicated her life to making things and experiences that cultivate human creativity through the marriage of art + commerce.

All Publications

  • Virtual (Zoom) Interactions Alter Conversational Behavior and Inter-Brain Coherence. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience Balters, S., Miller, J. G., Li, R., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2023


    A growing number of social interactions are taking place virtually on video conferencing platforms. Here, we explore potential effects of virtual interactions on observed behavior, subjective experience, and neural "single-brain" and "inter-brain" activity via functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging. We scanned a total of 36 human dyads (72 participants, 36 males, 36 females) who engaged in three naturalistic tasks (i.e., problem-solving, creative-innovation, socio-emotional task), in either an in-person or virtual (Zoom®) condition. We also coded cooperative behavior from audio recordings. We observed reduced conversational turn-taking behavior during the virtual condition. Given that conversational turn-taking was associated with other metrics of positive social interaction (e.g., subjective cooperation and task performance), this measure may be an indicator of prosocial interaction. In addition, we observed altered patterns of averaged and dynamic inter-brain coherence in virtual interactions. Inter-brain coherence patterns that were characteristic of the virtual condition were associated with reduced conversational turn-taking. These insights can inform the design and engineering of the next generation of video conferencing technology.Significance StatementVideo conferencing has become an integral part of our lives. Whether this technology impacts behavior and neurobiology is not well understood. We explored potential effects of virtual interaction on social behavior, brain activity, and inter-brain coupling. We found that virtual interactions were characterized by patterns of inter-brain coupling that were negatively implicated in cooperation. Our findings are consistent with the perspective that video conferencing technology adversely affects individuals and dyads during social interaction. As virtual interactions become even more necessary, improving the design of video conferencing technology will be crucial for supporting effective communication.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1401-22.2023

    View details for PubMedID 36868852

  • Design science and neuroscience: A systematic review of the emergent field of Design Neurocognition DESIGN STUDIES Balters, S., Weinstein, T., Mayseless, N., Auernhammer, J., Hawthorne, G., Steinert, M., Meinel, C., Leifer, L. J., Reiss, A. L. 2023; 84
  • Capturing Human Interaction in the Virtual Age: A Perspective on the Future of fNIRS Hyperscanning FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE Balters, S., Baker, J. M., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2020; 14: 588494


    Advances in video conferencing capabilities combined with dramatic socio-dynamic shifts brought about by COVID-19, have redefined the ways in which humans interact in modern society. From business meetings to medical exams, or from classroom instruction to yoga class, virtual interfacing has permeated nearly every aspect of our daily lives. A seemingly endless stream of technological advances combined with our newfound reliance on virtual interfacing makes it likely that humans will continue to use this modern form of social interaction into the future. However, emergent evidence suggests that virtual interfacing may not be equivalent to face-to-face interactions. Ultimately, too little is currently understood about the mechanisms that underlie human interactions over the virtual divide, including how these mechanisms differ from traditional face-to-face interaction. Here, we propose functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) hyperscanning-simultaneous measurement of two or more brains-as an optimal approach to quantify potential neurocognitive differences between virtual and in-person interactions. We argue that increased focus on this understudied domain will help elucidate the reasons why virtual conferencing doesn't always stack up to in-person meetings and will also serve to spur new technologies designed to improve the virtual interaction experience. On the basis of existing fNIRS hyperscanning literature, we highlight the current gaps in research regarding virtual interactions. Furthermore, we provide insight into current hurdles regarding fNIRS hyperscanning hardware and methodology that should be addressed in order to shed light on this newly critical element of everyday life.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2020.588494

    View details for Web of Science ID 000589689700001

    View details for PubMedID 33240067

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7669622

  • Real-life creative problem solving in teams: fNIRS based hyperscanning study. NeuroImage Mayseless, N. n., Hawthorne, G. n., Reiss, A. L. 2019: 116161


    It is often assumed that groups of individuals can work together to achieve innovation and solve complex problems they are unable to solve on their own. One of the underlying assumptions is that a group can be more creative and innovative than single individuals. Previous research has begun to examine the process by which problem solving occurs in teams looking to achieve innovation. Despite this progress, a clear, brain-based model that informs how team interactivity contributes and impacts the outcome of an innovation event is lacking. Here we present a naturalistic study designed to examine creative problem solving involving team cooperation. We used functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure inter-brain synchrony (IBS) between interacting partners engaged in a creative design task. Results implicate the involvement of cognitive control coupled with the mentalizing and mirror neuron networks in IBS. Post hoc behavioral and temporal analyses revealed an increase in cooperation over time in association with reduction in IBS. Our results demonstrate the importance of a naturalistic design for investigating the neural underpinnings of team interactions as well as suggest a possible mechanism for team creativity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116161

    View details for PubMedID 31493532

  • Creativity in the Twenty-first Century: The Added Benefit of Training and Cooperation DESIGN THINKING RESEARCH: MAKING DISTINCTIONS: COLLABORATION VERSUS COOPERATION Mayseless, N., Saggar, M., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A., Plattner, H., Meinel, C., Leifer, L. 2018: 239–49
  • Changes in Brain Activation Associated with Spontaneous Improvization and Figural Creativity After Design-Thinking-Based Training: A Longitudinal fMRI Study. Cerebral cortex Saggar, M., Quintin, E., Bott, N. T., Kienitz, E., Chien, Y., Hong, D. W., Liu, N., Royalty, A., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2016


    Creativity is widely recognized as an essential skill for entrepreneurial success and adaptation to daily-life demands. However, we know little about the neural changes associated with creative capacity enhancement. For the first time, using a prospective, randomized control design, we examined longitudinal changes in brain activity associated with participating in a five-week design-thinking-based Creative Capacity Building Program (CCBP), when compared with Language Capacity Building Program (LCBP). Creativity, an elusive and multifaceted construct, is loosely defined as an ability to produce useful/appropriate and novel outcomes. Here, we focus on one of the facets of creative thinking-spontaneous improvization. Participants were assessed pre- and post-intervention for spontaneous improvization skills using a game-like figural Pictionary-based fMRI task. Whole-brain group-by-time interaction revealed reduced task-related activity in CCBP participants (compared with LCBP participants) after training in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior/paracingulate gyrus, supplementary motor area, and parietal regions. Further, greater cerebellar-cerebral connectivity was observed in CCBP participants at post-intervention when compared with LCBP participants. In sum, our results suggest that improvization-based creative capacity enhancement is associated with reduced engagement of executive functioning regions and increased involvement of spontaneous implicit processing.

    View details for PubMedID 27307467

  • Developing Novel Neuroimaging Paradigm to Assess Neural Correlates of Improvisation and Creative Thinking Using fMRI DESIGN THINKING RESEARCH: TAKING BREAKTHROUGH INNOVATION HOME Saggar, M., Chromik, L. C., Royalty, A., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L., Plattner, H., Meinel, C., Leifer, L. 2016: 309–17
  • Designing a Creativity Assessment Tool for the Twenty-First Century: Preliminary Results and Insights from Developing a Design-Thinking Based Assessment of Creative Capacity DESIGN THINKING RESEARCH: MAKING DESIGN THINKING FOUNDATIONAL Hawthorne, G., Saggar, M., Quintin, E., Bott, N., Keinitz, E., Liu, N., Chien, Y., Hong, D., Royalty, A., Reiss, A. L., Plattner, H., Meinel, C., Leifer, L. 2016: 111–23
  • Pictionary-based fMRI paradigm to study the neural correlates of spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Saggar, M., Quintin, E., Kienitz, E., Bott, N. T., Sun, Z., Hong, W., Chien, Y., Liu, N., Dougherty, R. F., Royalty, A., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2015; 5


    A novel game-like and creativity-conducive fMRI paradigm is developed to assess the neural correlates of spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity in healthy adults. Participants were engaged in the word-guessing game of Pictionary(TM), using an MR-safe drawing tablet and no explicit instructions to be "creative". Using the primary contrast of drawing a given word versus drawing a control word (zigzag), we observed increased engagement of cerebellum, thalamus, left parietal cortex, right superior frontal, left prefrontal and paracingulate/cingulate regions, such that activation in the cingulate and left prefrontal cortices negatively influenced task performance. Further, using parametric fMRI analysis, increasing subjective difficulty ratings for drawing the word engaged higher activations in the left pre-frontal cortices, whereas higher expert-rated creative content in the drawings was associated with increased engagement of bilateral cerebellum. Altogether, our data suggest that cerebral-cerebellar interaction underlying implicit processing of mental representations has a facilitative effect on spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep10894

    View details for Web of Science ID 000355548100001

    View details for PubMedID 26018874

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4446895

  • Developing Novel Methods to Assess Long-Term Sustainability of Creative Capacity Building and Applied Creativity DESIGN THINKING RESEARCH: BUILDING INNOVATORS Saggar, M., Hawthorne, G., Quintin, E., Kienitz, E., Bott, N. T., Hong, D., Chien, Y., Liu, N., Royalty, A., Reiss, A. L., Plattner, H., Meinel, C., Leifer, L. 2015: 29–39
  • Targeted intervention to increase creative capacity and performance: A randomized controlled pilot study THINKING SKILLS AND CREATIVITY Kienitz, E., Quintin, E., Saggar, M., Bott, N. T., Royalty, A., Hong, D. W., Liu, N., Chien, Y., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2014; 13: 57-66
  • Creativity training enhances goal-directed attention and information processing THINKING SKILLS AND CREATIVITY Bott, N., Quintin, E., Saggar, M., Kienitz, E., Royalty, A., Hong, D. W., Liu, N., Chien, Y., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2014; 13: 120-128