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.
DFA UO @ Eugene has hit the ground running this year with some amazing events designed to pull students out of their seats…and into the world!
Initial enthusiasm is strong!
“We are needed everywhere and if we can make an impact in Eugene then that is a significant contribution. Design for American combines a love of design and a love of philanthropy and service. And I think this is the best way to find meaningful and long-lasting solutions.” -Claire Sakaguchi, Product Design, Sophomore
Partnering with a representative user–product designer and newly-hired faculty member Molly Rogers–to explore the challenges a wheelchair user might face on a daily basis, they borrowed wheel chairs from the health center and went to a grocery markets to experience first-hand the difficulties of shopping in a wheel chair.
It’s official–Design for America has successfully launched at each one of our DFA studios throughout the country! One by one, each DFA studio has galvanized amazing energy from their communities to tackle local and social issues. Here at DFA’s HQ, it’s been astounding to see the energy from each one of our teams with each excited email update coming in. With 30-110 students showing up to each one of the kick-offs, we can’t wait to see what the studios do with so much energy!
“With Stars in their Eyes, DFA Students want to change the world,” is the title of Fast Company’s feature on Design for America. And this couldn’t ring more true.
As we just witnessed the breadth of energy and enthusiasm from our Summer Leadership Studio, we know that DFA students, now at eight universities throughout the country, are not waiting for a changed world, but are creating it.
From improving the lives of children with diabetes to improving foot care for the homeless, DFA students are tackling the complex issues of today, one project at a time with tireless efforts in interdisciplinary teams.
I think we can safely say from all of us at DFA, it is a huge honor to be highlighted by such a well-respected source and couldn’t be more thrilled. We only hope that this type of recognition will help broaden our reach and our abilities to make tangible impact in our communities and in America.
We are mentioned twice, so here’s a clip from the main article, United States of Design.
In typical American fashion, the antidote to a vacuum of governmental support has been the recent creation of an unofficial, bottom-up, democratic ecosystem. Scott Wilson tapped into that ecosystem via Kickstarter, and there are many other strains–from crafts seller Etsy to social product-development company Quirky to fast-expanding online design communities such as Behance, Dribbble, Ffffound, Forrst, Svpply, and others. These sites give designers venues to share and vet their creations, to reach out to prospective employers, and to launch businesses without suffering through the complexity and obstacles of traditional capital raising or infrastructure building. A burgeoning national student organization called Design for America, started at Northwestern by Yuri Malina, Mert Iseri, Hannah Chung, and Liz Gerber, is bringing design-process thinking to students at eight universities across the country, who typically might imagine that design encompasses furniture, fashion, and little more. There’s even interest in Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists have created a not-for-profit called the Designer Fund to train and capitalize designers.
Wow, what an amazing weekend we had! 21 students from 8 different universities flew in Thursday night from as far as Sao Paulo, Brazil. Despite geographic differences it was clear that each one of these students has something in common that would soon bond them all- an unwavering commitment to use design for social innovation. Although everyone came in with varying degrees of experience in design and student leadership, they all left with a bold confidence and eagerness to get their studios kicked-off for the fast approaching fall!. Check out some of the lessons they learned in the video below and the pictures from the weekend!
It is with great pleasure that we announce Design for America’s new studios!! After a grueling application process we have not 3, not 5, not 6 but SEVEN new studios! With a few last minute entries, there were a few that we just couldn’t say no to as these students proved over and over their commitment, their creativity and their passion for creating local and social change.
As DFA applications are closing in and we embark on interviews this week, we wanted to give you all another sneak peak at some of the great work and excitement that’s already taking off at universities throughout the country.