March 25, 2013
Designers Erin Huizenga and Deborah Alden are the types that get invited for coffee to talk shop. Both also teach at schools like Northwestern and IIT Institute of Design and work with socially conscious organizations like Firebelly University (where Alden was Dean) and EPIC (which Huizenga founded). But their experience, and a jolt of caffeine, hasn’t always produced immediate answers, especially when questions came from mid-level designers looking to navigate to the next level of their career.
With their new design-centered educational organization, The Comradery, Huizenga and Alden decided to tap into community wisdom to provide answers to complex professional questions. Aiming to be an inclusive hub where students learn through participation, The Comradery plans to host classes focused on design thinking and leadership, starting with a kickoff event April 13, a design research workshop taught by IDEO’s Julka Almquist.
“We want to establish a culture of lifelong learning,” says Alden, “and doing things experientially.”
The upcoming workshop schedule suggests an interdisciplinary, professional approach: how to craft a compelling presentation by Dinesh Goburdhun, Associate Partner of Strategy at VSA Partners; entrepreneur Chris Finlay of Otabo discussing how to find the value of your business; and Alisa Wolfson, director of design at Leo Burnett, on finding inspiration in life and practice. By focusing on interdisciplinary topics and leadership, the learning experiences won’t just be relevant for designers, says Alden, but will benefit anyone interested in creative processes.
“The thing about a place like IDEO is, they aren’t all designers by trade, they become designers by using the process,” says Alden. “To me, the design process is a way of thinking laterally and asking the right questions. It can be mystical to people, and we want to pull back the curtains.”