The results are in, the DFA Right Angle is able to reduce water use in cafeterias by half. After two days of testing, team lead, Thea Klein-Mayer galvanized a team of students to watch and observe cafeteria staff during open hours. Day one, the team created a baseline and measured that the for a 9 hour day, the water was on for 5 hours. Day two, with the Right Angle in place, this amount was brought down to 2.7 hours, that’s a reduction of nearly half!
In Los Angeles, drivers spend an average of 64 hours per year in rush-hour traffic. That’s almost two workweeks a year. Luckily, LA2B has formed to envision a new way of moving around the city. Joined by GOOD magazine, DFA UCLA’s team has joined these local partners in their quest for better mobility.
Well, we just had a whirlwind tour visiting all 8 of our DFA studios! From UCLA to Dartmouth, students are plugging away at tackling the most complex challenges of our time. So what have the teams been up to? 170 students from campuses throughout the country have been hard at work establishing local partnerships and understanding community needs. They’ve started out with broad themes such as health or homelessness and been doing deep dives to understand where design can make an impact.
This year, DFA’s flagship studio at Northwestern was joined by students from Stanford, UCLA, Dartmouth, RISD-Brown, Cornell, University of Oregon, and Barnard-Columbia. With 600 students from 60 different majors and 170 core team members currently involved, this year we plan to accept 6-8 new studios led by the most creative and passionate students of our time.
Champlain College’s application has had a very special beginning to us. NPR journalist, Richard Nadworny, did a thoughtful piece on us after watching Mert Iseri at CUSP. What’s special is things seem to be coming full circle, as DFA Faculty Founder, Liz Gerber actually grew up right in this area of Burlington, VT. In Richard’s article his message was clear- a strong desire for “Design for Vermont.”
We had a great long chat with Richard and Jeff Rutenbeck- Professor and Dean of Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College and their sentiments seem to be expressed best by the word of student applicant Robin Perlah’s word reposted here:
Four members of Design for America’s Cornell Studio were recently interviewed by Rahim Kanani of Forbes Magazine about their experiences starting a Design for America Studio. It is a fascinating look behind the scenes at what these DFA’ers have uncovered through their DFA experience and an honest at the realities and real work of starting and running a DFA studio. It’s a very good bet that all of our amazing DFA studios would have stories to tell about the challenge of organizing a studio and working to leverage design for social change.
Kanani: What was the moment, or trigger, that led you to realizing that your design skills, and this particular mode of thinking, are not simply restricted to their traditional uses, but can also be used to problem-solve social dilemmas?
Mariel Strauch: …I participated in community service in high school, but did not find it to be entirely fulfilling, for I did not believe I was giving to my full potential. I did not discover that my creativity could produce something helpful for others until DFA. Thinking about how people can be and are affected by design is always going to intrigue me. However, true satisfaction lies within the designs that you know will make people’s lives easier…
Ada Ng: …Upon being introduced to DFA by Alix, my notion of design as social change was merged: we can design change. The amazing thing about DFA is that it is so feasible. To take a large social issue and reframe it such that it is implementable is so simple….
DFA advisers and staff co-create DFA’s curriculum with students based upon what students want to learn in order to solve design problems they care about.
Jeanne Marie Olson, DFA Advisor, recently wrote a critical article for Core77‘s series on design education today. Jeanne highlights the curricular model set-forth by DFA and why it makes us unique and allows us to do what we do- particularly around project scoping and client management. With Jeanne’s background in design, education, and organizational change, she is a key asset to the development of DFA.