I attended a talk at IDEA shop IIT about Youth Design (thanks Rachael Kaberon). Youth Design is a summer mentorship program that introduces inner-city high school students to careers in the design profession. Many of the Youth Design people from Boston flew in to speak and share their stories. It was founded by Denise Korn. She and Youth Design are doing some exciting work. Hopefully there is a bright future for them here in Chicago.
Much of the evening's discussion was about diversity and workplaces and schools and careers and jobs. How can we fix the big problems. What can designers do? What can design companies and departments do? What should designers be doing to improve things over the long term? Is Youth Design workable in Chicago? The event had a high energy and much promise. I don't know where things will go, but I am sure it will be interesting. They have done wonderful things in Boston and shared some incredible stories.
One of the speakers that evening (I think it Robert Lewis Jr) talked about designers and big problems. He asked why don't we find designers working on these big problems and about how he thinks about designers and what they are like. He said designers are fixers. They fix things. They see something, see how it is, and see how it could be and make it so. They fix things. The other aspect he brought up was about designers and magic. He said that designers have magic and create things. A nice outside look at designers and design. Simple and clear. It's how people see designers.
Youth Design seems to have crafted some good "fixing" magic.