Designing Social Change 

Headquartered in Portland for 25 years, Metropolitan Group works exclusively in the social change arena helping nonprofits, foundations, public agencies, and socially responsible businesses. They design social change campaigns, impact branding and strategy, and communications to amplify the power of voice of their clients, 

Advocating for health equity, improving early literacy, and fighting for environmental justice, a major area of emphasis throughout their work is a multicultural lens they place on all of their work to assure a commitment to inclusiveness. 

Corinne Nakamura-Rybak, Design Director, presented “Designing and Writing for Audiences with Low Literacy Skills” at Typecon in August. It is crucial for design to reach and engage all audiences, including the 50% around the country who have low literacy skills. The presentation discussed four communication principles to consider when designing and writing:

Metropolitan Group is hosting an event this year, where they’ll discuss the core strategic and creative concepts behind effective community engagement, public will building, and sustainable social change.

MGxCHANGE: Designing Social Change
October 06, 12:00–2:00PM Human-Centered Design Course Begins 8/20

What is Human-centered Design? from on Vimeo.

We use human-centered design as a base for all that we do at Rachel Martin Design. If you’re looking to learn more about it, check out’s online Human-Centered Design course starting 8/20. 

More details and register at


Green Futures Exhibition

I was part of setting up this exhibition, in Seventeen (City of Culture Hub), as a follow up to the public consultation that was carried out as part of the Green Futures Project in Aberdeen.

The consultation consisted of asking members of the community to state what they think The Green needs and what would encourage more people to use the public space.

A lot of response were gathered, both at the consultation and online, and many changes were listed. A lot of people wanted more lighting, possibly colourful light art displays. Some called for more art venues, more retail shops and for the area to be completely pedestrianised.

Creating visual connections with thread allowed for a sense of community and links between the photographs scattered around the birds eye view of the area. Vinyl was also created in the same style as the rest of the work, to compliment the other pieces and create a display that worked together.

Working on such a project gave me the chance to put design concepts into practice and get a chance to work with the public. Working with the Lively Cities projects in Aberdeen has allowed for a great accompaniment to my main project and also experience working with a client.

I believe the role of a designer is evolving. Not only are we required to create good visuals, but also to create projects of social impact. Designing for social change, in this case reclaiming public space, can empower citizens and create a better community atmosphere within the city.

I feel my main project reaches out to the younger generation and encourages them to take part in civic matters. Young people are the future of the city, so it is important for them to get involved!


Our recent graduates Stephanie O'Neil & Sidney Krandall not only participated in LSA’s Science as Art competition, but Stephanie won “Best Digital Render” and Sidney received the grand prize!

Here is Stephanie’s 3D model of a malaria parasite and Sidney’s drawing of an original (and highly practical) concept design, developed to help patients strengthen their hand muscles outside of a clinical setting! Wow!

24 Clever Examples of Design Activism

24 Clever Examples of Design Activism

A new exhibit in Tokyo explores the work of designers tackling social problems from climate change to drone warfare.

An exhibition in Tokyo is putting activist design on center stage. “The Fab Mind: Hints of the Future in a Shifting World” explores clever and radical designs for the problems facing the modern world: mountains of trash, treacherous terrain filled with unexploded land mines, drone…

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Senior Neil Zemba is all about shoe design, but not just for the sake of creating some nifty sneakers – shoe design as a means for empowerment, a route to college, an entry point for learning.

Neil’s mentor, NIKE designer Wilson Smith III, who he met when he won NIKE’s Future Sole competition, has been working on bringing NIKE’s “just do it” spirit into the realm of social engagement.

Join us for Wilson’s talk, this Thursday at 5pm at the Michigan Theater.  And, check out BAM, Neil’s workshop on shoe design at Detroit Community High School. Neil will be taking WIlson to Brightmoor to meet the kids this Friday. 

Fuller Challenge Now Accepting Applications

2014 Fuller Challenge Video from Buckminster Fuller Institute on Vimeo.

Now in it’s seventh year, the Fuller Challenge awards one $100,000 prize to develop and implement a comprehensive anticipatory design solution. Known as “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award,” the Fuller Challenge attracts scientists, students, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners globally to submit progressive solutions to world’s most imminent obstacles.

“Since our first prize was awarded in 2008 we have celebrated winners whose solutions range from ecological restoration in the coal country of Appalachia, the re-design of urban mobility, reversing desertification in Africa, repairing coastal marine environments, rethinking building performance, innovation in biomaterial packaging, and urban storm surge mitigation integrating ecological engineering and community resilience strategies” said Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of BFI.

The deadline for submission is March 31st, 2015 at 5pm EST. Click here to apply.

Meet the judges for Changify Shoreditch

With Changify Shoreditch coming up this Friday 14th - Sunday 16th December in Rockwell House Studio (Fri) and Method’s London offices in the Tea Building on Shoreditch High St (Sat and Sun); we’re delighted to announce our panel of judges who will give their expert feedback on the projects and pitch videos created by attendees over the weekend.

Indy Johar - Co-founder 00:/

Indy is a qualified architect and regeneration consultant with particular experience in socially driven sustainability. He has delivered significant large scale multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder projects from Future Planners [with DEMOS, RICS, English Partnerships, CPRE] to Sustainable Suburbia joint funded by RICS, CABE, BURA and NESTA.

He has worked on a series of research projects focusing on sustainable futures; from affordable neighbourhoods, future planners, sustainable suburbia to High Utilization workspaces. Indy previously worked at Penoyre & Prasad Architects, leading, wining and delivering several Local Investment Finance Trust health workspace projects within Public Private Partnership frameworks. A Demos Associate, he has taught at TU Berlin, University of Bath, Architectural Association and University College London. Recently, Indy lectured at Art and Ecology Conference [London], Commission for Architecture and Built Environment, LSE and the Royal Academy.  Indy on Twitter @indy_johar

Jim Boulton - Deputy Managing Director, London, Story Worldwide

Jim is Story’s Deputy MD in the UK and a Course Director for The Chartered Institute of Marketing, where he runs the Digital Marketing Masterclass. He also curates “Digital Archaeology”, an event that celebrates the golden age of the website and raises the profile of digital archiving. The show has featured as a key part of Internet Week Europe and New York, attracting over 12,000 visitors, gaining international media coverage and support from The British Library, The Library of Congress and Google.

In 1996, Jim embarked on a Masters Degree at the Hypermedia Research Centre. Led by the eminent social theorist Doctor Richard Barbrook and the cutting edge interactive design agency Antirom, the course was dubbed the British answer to Negroponte’s Media Lab by The Guardian. In 1998, Jim established Large, an Internet consultancy that delivered benchmark websites for the world’s top brands including the groundbreaking Bang & Olufsen site, referred to as “the most beautiful website in the world” by the Financial Times, and Agent Provocateur, deemed the “sexiest website in the world” by Vogue. In 2007, Large merged with Story Worldwide to create the world’s first post-advertising agency. Jim on Twitter @jim_boulton

Chris Downs - Principal, Method

Chris Downs is a Principal out of Method’s London studio, bringing his decade of experience in service design to Method clients. Having founded live|work, the world’s first service design agency in 2001, Chris is one of the true pioneers of this discipline.

Chris is internationally recognized for his perspective on building brands and products that live through every touchpoint of the user experience, and that the ‘servicization’ of many products leads to a more financially, socially and environmentally sustainable future. He has brought this thinking to the design of iconic and disruptive services for clients including Streetcar (now Zipcar), Orange, Vodafone, Fiat, Aviva and Experian. Chris on Twitter @dataisthenewoil

About Changify Shoreditch:

Over the weekend of 14-16 December, we are going to Changify Shoreditch, with Friday early drinks and video inspirations followed by two days of citizen reporting, rating, data collection and creative problem solving.

For one weekend, you turn citizen journalist: exploring past, present and future Shoreditch, collecting and sharing issues and inspirations you notice, and mapping them to build a local realtime index and craft solutions.

These solutions turn into mini-projects supported by 1-minute pitch videos, to get backing on the upcoming Changify platform from the local community, businesses and brands. Changify is a Kickstarter for civic change linked to a realtime locality and brand index, brought to you by @D4SC Design for Social Change, a social impact enterprise.


Some Early Bird Tickets at £16.55 are still available; (thereafter tickets are £23.97). Cost includes Friday drinks; guided walk Saturday; and lunch, tea/coffee and refreshments Sat & Sun. Follow @Changify on Twitter for updates.

Be My Eyes - helping blind see

Be My Eyes - helping blind see from Be My Eyes on Vimeo.

Be the eyes for a blind person in need of help remotely through a live video connection if you are sighted or be assisted by the network of sighted users if you are blind. Be My Eyes is all about contributing to and benefiting from small acts of kindness, so hop on board and get involved!

Lean more at

TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Andrew Shea on the social value of disruptive design

TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Andrew Shea wrote a fascinating article earlier this year on the social value of disruptive design and how small environmental changes can create significant behaviour change.

In the article: ‘Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions,’ Shea, a designer and writer based in New York, looks at how habits like smoking and drug-taking are complexly woven into the routines of people’s lives and how slight disruptions in how you use your environment can help break damaging patterns of behaviour. 

He then translates some of this psychological insight and research into ideas about 'social design.' Shea proposes ways that designers can intervene to help change and improve lives, using the examples of flies in urinals and Candy Chang’s inspirational project, Before I Die, which encourages people to share their hopes and dreams in public space. 

The article was published in Change Observer just ahead of the publication of Shea’s book Designing for Social Change

Read the full article 'Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions’ here.

Register for TEDxTransmedia 2012, WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters, to see Shea and our other brilliant speakers live.