Thursday, March 10, 2016

Design for America

A group of students who make it their goal to "apply design thinking to a business proposition", students pursue a dual degree in art and business at two top universities which collaborate to this effect (Johns Hopkins and MICA) proves that there millennials in Baltimore that are at the cutting edge of creative and entrepreneurial innovation.  That group then searching out a Baltimore advocacy group (Transit Choices), taking on a real world Baltimore problem (transit signs), running a "design sprint" and then going with the result to the MTA proves that millennials in Baltimore are starting to make an actual difference. Not only di they not just complain about the transit they found in their new home-city, they decied to do something about it and, most importantly, they found an enthusiastic reception for this outside the box approach. All noteworthy enough to mention it here.
Design at the intersection of various disciplines
(Graphic: Hopkins/MICA DFA studio)

Design for America (DFA) is a national movement of interdisciplinary college collaboration that started in 2009 at Northwestern University by a professor and just two students who translated "design thinking" as solving  "wicked problems" this way:
Design for America’s vision is a world where people believe in their ability to innovate and tackle the most ill-structured challenges of our time. Our mission is to develop a pipeline of leaders of innovation and create impact through the implementation of DFA projects.
The Hopkins and MICA collaboration is another indicator that Baltimore, long a leader in medical research and life science, is no longer left out when it comes to innovation in design, interdisciplinary collaboration and applying design to equity and social justice issues. MICA with its very successful program for social design has already created credibility for some time. The partners now plan to cast the net even wider across many other other schools and colleges in town.
We plan to use our unique, city-wide DFA studio to engage students across educational levels, disciplines, and backgrounds. Together we will break down the boundaries that divide us, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and create social impact. (website)

Strong pictograms illustrate the points
(Graphic: Hopkins/MICA DFA studio)

Another expression of Baltimore's new stature in the world of design and innovation is the SEAM Conference to be held next week in this city. SEAM describes its origin this way:
SEAM is the brainchild of students from the MBA/MA in Design Leadership program. The program offers two degrees: an MBA from Johns Hopkins University's (JHU) Carey Business School and an MA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The program is focused on building the management capacity of individuals from a range of disciplines that include design and art, science and technology, and business. Our students aspire to become transformative leaders who engage organizations through creative processes that result in innovative solutions to real-world challenges.
Four women of the Hopkins/MICA DFA studio presented Wednesday morning to a wider audience at Transit Choices what they think about Baltimore's transit and its current signage and some initial concepts what they would do differently.

They are not done yet. Based on the initial positive reception, there is a real chance that their actual "design thinking" will make it all the way through the current process of MTA redefining their transit delivery  (Baltimore Link) to the more than 6000 new bus stop signs that will be unveiled with an all new bus system next year.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

The design process
(Graphic: Hopkins/MICA DFA studio)

Findings on current bus stops
(Graphic: Hopkins/MICA DFA studio)

Rochester NY bus stop graphics were considered a good example

London bus stop signs are widely seen as setting the standard

Very first ideas on how to organize information
(Graphic: Hopkins/MICA DFA studio)
All graphics from the Hopkins/MICA DFA studio are copyrighted