Design for Impact Bootcamp (Austin)

Creative designers typically produce stuff - toasters, websites, airplanes, and cell phones - for mass production by large, for-profit corporations. These designers frequently bemoan what they observe to be a misappropriation of their talent - that their creative efforts are misguided, and the hard work and energy they are putting into product development is lacking integrity or honesty. Rarely does their work have a humanitarian element to it; the corporations that hire designers are fundamentally interested in appeasing their shareholders.

Designing for Impact is an overt redirection of these creative design efforts, in order to tackle the large-scale humanitarian problems that plague our country and our world. The design process is purposefully applied to issues of poverty, access to clean drinking water, equality of education, and other large problems, and the outcome is a combination of products, services, and systems that are intended to better the human experience.

After taking part in the boot camp 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

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. All levels of design ability are welcome; the only pre-requisite is passion. There are limited participant seats, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Note: If you participated in a previous Design For Impact Bootcamp with us, you aren't eligble to participate again - sorry, and thanks for your interest!



9:00 - 9:15
Introductions & Welcome.

9:15 - 10:00
Designing for Impact
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.

10:00 - 12:00
A Process for Seeing: Guerilla Ethnography
In the first methods session, we'll learn how to practice "guerilla ethnography" to engage with and quickly gather meaningful insights from target audiences.
Applied: Ethnography in Austin.
In groups, we'll begin to tackle a design problem related to the context of Austin, Texas — and we'll do so by engaging the community and practicing the guerilla ethnography methods we've just learned.

12:00 - 12:30
Working lunch, provided

12:00 - 2:00
Understanding Insights and Themes
As 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.
Applied: Extraction of Insights and Themes.
In groups, we'll extract insights and themes, and position these elements in the context of our initial design brief — designing for impact, and producing new products, systems and services.

2:00 - 3:00
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.
Applied: Forced Provocation.
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.

3:00 - 4:30
Interface Visualization and 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.
Applied: Ideation based on Insights and Themes
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.

4:30 - 5:30
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.

6:00 - 7:30
Happy Hour, cash bar


About the Facilitators
* Jon Kolko is the Founder and Director of Austin Center for Design, a progressive educational institution teaching interaction design and social entrepreneurship. His work focuses on bringing the power of design to social enterprises, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and large-scale industry disruption. He has worked extensively with both startups and Fortune 500 clients, and he has a breadth of experience in consumer electronics, mobility, web services, supply chain management, demand planning, and customer-relationship management. He has worked with big-brand clients such as AT&T, HP, Nielsen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ford, IBM, Palm and other leaders of the Global 2000, as well as with startups like Socialware, Spredfast, Vast, Attivio, and more.

* Matt Franks is a Senior Interaction Designer at frog design and the co-owner of Monster Feet design consultancy. Prior to working at frog, Matt was a hybrid interaction / product designer for Target Corporation. His work ranges from mobile systems for both handsets and tablets, to entertainment experiences for TV, web, and video. In the past 4 years, he has released over 400 products and services into the market.

* Justin Petro is the CEO of Thinktiv in Austin, Texas, and a faculty member at Austin Center for Design. Thinktiv is a venture accelerator – an ecosystem of people and technology focused exclusively on business innovation for brand, marketing, and technology challenges. Justin has worked with clients such as Dell, Pricelock, Siemens, and Merrill Lynch and holds patents in hardware, software and retail design. Prior to founding Thinktiv, Justin worked as the Director of User Experience at Design Edge, HCI specialist for Trilogy Software and Visual Interaction Designer at Maya Design Group.

* Jon Freach is a Principal Designer at frog design. Jon has a 14-year background in the areas of user experience research and interaction design and has served in a broad range of roles, from designer to strategic planner and manager of best practices. Prior to working at frog, Jon was the Experience Research and Design Lead at fd2s, an environmental graphic design and wayfinding consultant based in Austin, Texas.


About Austin Center for Design
Austin Center for Design exists to transform society through design and design education. This transformation occurs through the development of design knowledge directed towards all forms of social and humanitarian problems.

The Center offers an innovative curriculum that repositions creative design education in the context of designing for the public sector. Students learn the interdisciplinary skills of creative design thinking, as applied to solving complicated problems of society and culture.

These skills broadly include divergent thinking, ideation, visualization, synthesis, prototyping, and the managing of complexity and data organization. Students use these skills to develop systems, services, products, and new business models that address pressing social issues.


Jon Kolko is the Founder and Director of Austin Center for Design, a progressive educational institution teaching interaction design and social entrepreneurship. His work focuses on bringing the power of design to social enterprises, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and large-scale industry disruption. Jon has held positions of Executive Director of Design Strategy at Thinktiv, a venture accelerator in Austin, Texas, and both Principal Designer and Associate Creative Director roles at frog design, a global innovation firm. He was also a Professor of Interaction and Industrial Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he was instrumental in building both the Interaction and Industrial Design undergraduate and graduate programs. Jon has also held the role of Director for the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine, published by the ACM. He is the author of the book Thoughts on Interaction Design, published by Morgan Kaufmann, and Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner's Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis, published by Oxford University Press.




Designer. Developer. Entrepreneur.


I play the violin. I love to cook Taiwanese food. Baking is my therapy. I want to learn how to use Photoshop.


I’m just a little lady who’s as curious as a kitten.


single mom, UI/UX designer in Austin, TX



I design and I'm a mom!


I am currently a student studying advertising design. I enjoy eating, dreaming, learning, making, growing, and cats.


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