Design Extravaganza: A 2 Day Conference in Austin, Texas

We’re please to announce a new design event in Austin, Texas: A Mingle-Mangle Razzle-Dazzle Ragtag Design Extravaganza! Join us October 5th and 6th, 2012 in Austin, Texas, for 2 days of thought-provoking and inspirational conversations about the role of design, technology, and “user experience” in shaping the fabric of society. This design event is a conference not to be missed. Confirmed speakers include:

Our attendees at this design event include designers,┬ámarketers, entrepreneurs, and agency directors; at this conference, you’ll experience some great networking with some of the top talent in Texas.

Six more speakers will be announced in the coming weeks; for now, we encourage you to register early, as this is an event you don’t want to miss! Learn more here – we hope to see you at the Design Extravaganza!

How do you cook?

Here is the final AC4D presentation of Feast for Days, a collaborative cooking business co-founded by Jonathan Lewis and I. Enjoy!

Design Snacks


I’m interested in sharing some of my thoughts about design in a more accessible format than my admittedly dense writing, and so I’m going to be publishing quick videos – Design Snacks – once a week on various designerly topics.

Here’s the first one; I hope you like it.

Our Third Annual Design for Impact Bootcamp

Please join us at our third annual Design for Impact Bootcamp, to be held on Saturday, Mar 31, 2012. This day-long event will introduce you to the research and design approach we use at Austin Center for Design; after taking part in the event, participants will have:

  • Acquired a high level process for approaching large-scale social problems, and understand the challenges associated with these types of problems
  • Experienced the research, synthesis and ideation processes as related to design for impact
  • Gained empathy with a target, at-risk population
  • Acquired the introductory vocabulary to speak about strategic design work, in the context of designing for impact

There are a limited number of seats available for this event; if you are interested, please sign up here.

Student Midterm Presentation: The Wicked Problems of Food

Students at Austin Center for Design have concluded their design research and preliminary synthesis, and have identified product, service and business opportunities that address the wicked problem of food. The students presented the sixteen weeks of work to a packed room on December 17th, 2011; a video of the presentation is below, and you can download the slides here (as a 23 meg .pdf file).

The work that will be developed over the next sixteen weeks include:

Clean Collective, founded by Samir Rath and Jaime Krakowiak. Clean Collective will connect clean-tech ventures, which typically require a large physical footprint, with independent farmers, who typically have a large amount of unused or under-utilized land.

We Cook, founded by Ben Franck and Jonathan Lewis. We Cook will bring together various families from low-income households in order to foster group cooking and sharing of a week’s worth of food.

Girls Guild, founded by Diana Griffin and Cheyenne Weaver. Girls Guild will help girls who are struggling with eating disorders to find a mentor and utilize creativity as a positive emotional outlet.

Congrats to all of the AC4D students on a great first half; we look forward to seeing these ideas come to life over the next two quarters!

Design For Impact Bootcamp

AC4D, along with our generous sponsors frog design and Thinktiv, completed our second annual free Design For Impact Bootcamp. This aggressively-paced boot camp is intended for designers, technologists, marketers, and other professionals who are interested in extending their skill set into the realm of social innovation and design for impact. Participants spent eight hours learning the fundamentals of research, synthesis, and ideation – focused on large-scale social change through new and novel product, system, and service design.

Materials from the bootcamp are available for download below:

Designing for Impact | Jon KolkoIn 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.

A Process for Seeing: Guerilla Ethnography | Lauren SerotaIn the first methods session, we’ll learn how to practice “guerilla ethnography” to engage with and quickly gather meaningful insights from target audiences.

Understanding Insights and Themes | Jon FreachAs we progress through meaning-making, we’ll begin to identify insights and themes through a bottom-up approach. These methods 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 | Jon KolkoWe’ll begin to create new ideas, giving form to our insights and finding a way to connect insights to problem solving.

Interface Visualization and Design | Justin PetroThe 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.

About AC4D | Jon KolkoWe’ll discuss the qualities of the AC4D program, and how they relate to what you learned today.

We look forward to seeing you at our next bootcamp in 2012; if you want to be alerted of events like this, join our mailing list and we’ll be sure to let you know.

* Update: Read the nice writeup of our Bootcamp on Core77.

Austin Center for Design Welcomes New Faculty Member Randall Macon!


We are pleased to welcome a new addition to our faculty; Randall Macon will be joining AC4D, teaching IDSE401 Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship. Randall is dedicated to the creation of durable viable businesses that can generate profits with a strong eye towards ensuring long term value to society.

Randall is currently developing a set of interrelated projects with the goal of cultivating a thriving and durable social enterprise ecosystem in Austin, Texas. The ultimate goal is to create a tightly integrated community of conscious consumers, social entrepreneurs and social venture capitalists. The beginnings of this ecosystem include My Entrepreneurial Journey (, participation in Innovation +, a set of local leaders seeking high growth investment opportunities within the social sector and a business plan competition that focuses on addressing long term and large scale social challenges at the local level.

Randall has 17 years of experience in early stage and rapid growth organization in both the non-profit and for-profit worlds. Randall was the Director of Innovation at the Lance Armstrong Foundation leading the creation and launch of the LIVESTRONG brand that catapulted the organization from a $10MM organization to a $65MM organization in less than two years. He has a B.A. in Journalism and Design from Baylor University. His greatest joys are hearing his children giggle and running around Lady Bird Lake with his wife.

Welcome, Randall!