Wow! Who knew 6 weeks could fly by so quickly and that so much could be accomplished in such little time! The DFA Northwestern summer studio, joined by design professionals, just reviewed their concepts to plan out their next steps. Check out what some our reviewers had to say and read about the projects below!

DFA is evidence of the value of interdisciplinary teams and bringing together diverse minds to tackle complex problems.”
– Ric Edinberg. Principal, Insitum

I’m ready to hire them.”
– Christian Long, VP The Third Teacher +


How can we prevent foot infections for homeless shelter shower users?

In any given shelter across Chicago, a single shower may be used by up to 100 homeless clients each day. With overworked staff, sanitizing these showers is often time consuming and difficult to maintain. This exposure to unsanitary conditions leads to high rates of fungal foot infections such as athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, which if left untreated often spread or cause pain.

The NUMAT is a recyclable shower mat that allows homeless individuals to protect themselves and others from fungal infections.

This team plans to continue working on the NUMAT to iterate on the mat’s materials as well as the dispenser design to truly create a closed loop system for clean and healthy feet everywhere!

How can we empower kids with their own shopping experience and reward healthy choices?

The prevalence of childhood obesity in Chicago, among children 3-7 years old, is over twice that of rates for similarly aged children in the US and there are approximately 12.5 million children considered obese throughout the United States.

Unhealthy food choices are one the leading causes of this epidemic. While the details of this solution are confidential due to patenting, this project aims to engage and excite children as they make healthy choices in supermarkets.

How can we create an exhibit that empowers children to tinker?

Children learn to learn by interacting with objects, exploring their characteristics, disassembling, and recreating. These actions are the tip of the iceberg that is tinkering.

In designing a space where children feel comfortable and excited to create, experiential learning can take hold and allow children to learn in unknown ways. Focusing on simple materials with authentic experiences and flexible results, the core concepts this project brought forward were the simplicity of peg-boards and doorways as interactive experiences.

Stay tuned as the team explores ways to prototype the exhibit in neighboring schools bringing the museum to them.

Thank you to all who made this summer possible!!

Gravity Tank, HLB, Greater Good Inc, Motif Inc , Dramatic Diversity , Susan Stirling , The Third Teacher +, Insitum , McCormick School of Engineering-NU Kevin Bley, Chicago Children’s Museum, Inpiration Corporation , Howard Area Community Center , Institute of Cultural Affairs

And thank you to all of you who could join us as guest reviewers! Your insight is invaluable to the progress of the teams. We look forward to keeping you updated on their progress!

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