Co-Design Processes and Partnerships Saturday, June 9th, 2018

"Designing from the Heart : Case study to foster a new generation of socially responsive designers "

Archana Shekara, Associate Professor, Illinois State University

Integrating cultural competency in design education beyond corporate ideals, and empowering students to create designs from the heart with empathy and respect.

Designers are expected to create pretty pictures that promote client’s campaigns and bring commercial success. Most of these designs satisfy the ego, but not the broader purpose of engagement. Design is a philosophy of life where designers have to empathize with and respect the diverse communities of people they serve. The presentation focuses on the design thinking and process embraced by Design Streak, the pre-professional graphic design studio at the School of Art at Illinois State University, for the 2017 BRIDGING DIVIDES, BECOMING ALLIES, Culturally Responsive Campus Community conference at Illinois State University. “The conference aims to bring diverse groups of individuals from across campus and the greater community to further understand and explore inequalities and biases against marginalized groups, and commit to continued action towards dismantling various systems of oppression that have plagued our country and communities for centuries.” (1)

Design Streak studio was commissioned to create the logo and promotional materials for the conference following a rigid timeline of three weeks. As the studio’s creative director, cultural researcher, and faculty, I will share new methodologies I adopted to help students deconstruct self-biases and social norms, and their transformative experiences in bridging gaps to understand multiculturalism through interdisciplinary collaborations. Discussions on the topics of race and racism, identity, marginalization, class, cultural biases and appropriation, power, privilege, diversity and inclusion were facilitated by partnering with various organizations in the community. As a result of these compelling interactions, students created designs that were sincere and heartfelt, and not just another pretty picture. These experiences resonated with students as they learned to accept and respect diversity, empowering them to become agents of social change.

Notes :
1. 2017 BRIDGING DIVIDES, BECOMING ALLIES, Culturally Conference Campus Community Conference at Illinois State university, Normal, Illinois.