What makes us feel welcome?

How do we navigate the intersections that confront us during important life transitions? Next week, Design for America will host a discussion and DFAlumni + Friends event as a part of Chicago Design Week 2017. Join us at Intersections and Transitions: Designing Welcoming Experiences on October 24th for a chance to interact directly with unique speakers and hear vibrant stories of both personal and professional transitional experiences. Bring your own perspective to the table to consider how to make newcomers feel welcome at school, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods and in our country.

Meet our speakers:

Melis Sönmez, Dupuis Group

Melis is a Turkish-born design researcher with a background in product design and brand communication. She has spent the past three years contributing insight and strategic thinking to design teams tackling complex challenges in high-visibility projects. Melis also founded The Bright Side, a community where immigrants share their inspiring stories to empower each other and show the world their positive impact on society. Most recently, she collaborated with Matthew Hoffman of You Are Beautiful in Chicago.


Jeff Meekcoms, RTC

Jeff is Global Creative Director at RTC, focusing on the design and detail of retail, helping brands and retailers improve the customer experience. His team is developing a new set of measures to illuminate the space between designed experiences and the way it feels to consume them. Jeff notes that while it’s easy to focus on the assets of an experience, it’s difficult to achieve a holistic outcome from that starting point. Having recently moved to the U.S. from England, he reflects on the subtle but significant differences he has encountered and asks “What are the measures of an experience that to help us navigate the experience of our daily lives, our cultures and those of others?”

Allison Chen, Shure

Allison is a user experience designer who creates software to monitor and control audio equipment. Allison also co-founded Close the Loop Solutions, a sustainability-focused enterprise that is developing Compost Connect, an online platform that promotes food waste diversion and community composting. Allison is an alum from DFA RISD|Brown and her lifelong goal is to leverage design to make the world a more inclusive and sustainable place.



Samarth Soni, Northwestern University

Samarth is a junior at Northwestern majoring in journalism and political science. His passion for designing empathy-driven experiences and conducting ethnographic research comes from the vastly different places he has called home over the years – Dubai as a child, Delhi as a teenager, and Evanston as a college student. Samarth is an active member of DFA Northwestern, and in his free time he enjoys trying spicy foods from different cultures and pretending inanimate objects around him are his drumkit.  



Join DFA at Harry’s Cafe in the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law next Tuesday, October 24th, from 6-8pm. RSVP here.