Design for Impact Workshop

2016-2017 Date TBD.

Date, Location and Tickets

An all-day workshop, where you'll learn design in the context of social problems.
Date TBD, 9am - 4pm, $15 (lunch included)
AC4D, 1309 Chestnut Avenue, Austin TX, 78702

About this workshop

This one-day workshop will teach you how to design for impact—how to use the design process to focus on big social problems, like homelessness and poverty or our broken education system. This design process includes ethnographic immersive research, synthesis, and rapid ideation. These are all skills used by practicing designers in their day to day jobs; in this workshop, we'll use those same skills in the context of Wicked Problems.

What will I learn?

During this workshop, you'll learn an overview of the process designers use to solve problems:

  • You'll learn how to conduct research with people who are in the middle of a wicked problem
  • You'll learn how to translate that research into meaningful insights
  • You'll learn how to draw lots of ideas in order to help make the world better

Above all, you'll learn how to gain empathy with an at-risk population, and you'll have gained the starting point to further explore design for impact.

I've never done this before.

No problem. This aggressively-paced workshop is intended for anyone interested in extending their skill set into the realm of social innovation and design for impact. Previous attendees have included designers, marketers, librarians, policy makers, and artists. All levels of design ability are welcome, even people who have never done this before. The only pre-requisite is passion. There are limited participant seats, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

About the facilitator

Jon Kolko is the Founder and Director of Austin Center for Design. His work focuses on helping design students develop autonomy through making. He has worked extensively with both startups and Fortune 500 companies, and he's most interested in humanizing educational technology.

Jon is the author of four books: Thoughts on Interaction Design, published by Morgan Kaufmann, Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner's Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis, published by Oxford University Press, Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving, published by Austin Center for Design, and Well Designed: How to use Empathy to Create Products People Love, published by Harvard Business Review Press.


Design strategy

In a group conversation, we will examine the precedents that have been set in the social innovation space, discuss the holistic process of design, and understand why the methods of design are most appropriate for tackling these complex social problems.

Gaining empathy: ethnographic research

In the first methods session, we'll learn how to practice ethnography in order to engage with and quickly gather meaningful insights from people. In groups, we'll begin to tackle a design problem related to the context of our city, and we'll do so by engaging the community.

Insights and themes

As we progress through meaning-making, we'll begin to identify insights and themes through a bottom-up approach. The methods you'll learn will describe how to capture these high-level takeaways, and how to form actionable design directives out of these conceptual frames.

Rapid ideation and forced provocation

We'll begin to create new ideas, giving form to our insights and finding a way to connect insights to problem solving. We'll utilize a method of forced provocation, or lateral thinking, in order to quickly develop new solutions to problems and opportunities we've identified.

Visualization and solution design

The insights and themes that have been extracted can now be visualized. We'll use rapid iterative sketching and ideation in order to focus on a breadth of new ideas. And, we'll apply the methods of rapid sketching and visualization in order to create new and interesting - and appropriate - design ideas and solutions to various problems observed in the opportunity space.

Reflection and share-out

As we conclude the day, we'll reflect on the methods we've covered, and share the results of the ideation sketching with the larger group. And, we'll foster a discussion about the nature of designing for impact and social innovation, and discuss the challenges facing designers and other creative professionals in further embracing these methods and systems in the future.

Logistics and Tickets

Saturday, March 5th, 2016, 9am - 4pm, $15 (lunch included)
AC4D, 1309 Chestnut Avenue, Austin TX, 78702

Buy your ticket here.

About Austin Center for Design

Austin Center for Design, an educational program in Austin, Texas, is a unique school intended to help you develop autonomy through design.

Interaction Design

We teach the practice and theory of interaction design—designing products, services, and interactions to change human behavior and improve the world.

Humanitarian Focus

Our emphasis is on addressing humanitarian problems. We focus on problems that matter, and students learn to recontextualize design in the space of large-scale "wicked problems."

Small Classes

Our classes sizes are small—10 students a time—providing extensive face-time with professors and the opportunity to form lasting relationships with a growing support network.

A Supportive Community

We've developed a supportive, collaborative community of alumni to help current students succeed and to help one-another drive impact.