Public Interest Design
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July 18, 2014

Support “Within Formal Cities” on IndieGoGo

Recent North Carolina State University architecture graduates Abe Drechsler and Brian Gaudio are taking a journey around South America to share stories and document designs in the research project “Within Formal Cities.” Supported in part by the Duda Traveling Fellowship, the team is crowdfunding on IndieGoGo to raise an additional $7,000 to help produce a short documentary series and online publication of their research into informal South American communities. With over 30% raised thus far and 28 days remaining in the campaign, Abe and Brian’s cheeky awards are sure to go fast for this much-needed and highly relevant project.

Our goal is to share stories and designs from informal communities in 5 cities in South America: Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. We will document everything from self-built houses in the favelas of Rio, to government projects designed by world famous architects. Along with drawing and photographing the buildings, we will interview designers, professors, and community organizers to bring to light the creativity in which South American cities are dealing with the global housing crises. We will also create a short documentary series and online publication and present our work through a physical exhibit and lecture to bring awareness to these issues. Through this work we can challenge the next generation of architects and designers to do more, to bring good design to those who need it!

Click here to support the project on, or click here to learn more about the project on

July 18, 2014

Watch MASS on “Building Better Builders”

MASS Design Group recently released the fifth video in the Beyond the Building series on “Building Better Builders.” The short video showcases the construction of the GHESKIO Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti that pairs MASSers from Boston and Port au Prince with local metalworkers and builders to leverage local techniques as well as provide on-site training. The collaborative process has opened up communications and learning that can be taken into future projects, as MASS Director David Saladik said, “It’s empowering people to ask those questions, and to be able to take those lessons and that ability and desire to learn more to the next job.”

Click here to watch “Building Better Builders,” online at

July 17, 2014 Dignifies Through Individuality

The folks at always manage to discover, curate, and share remarkably uplifting and insightful videos on a variety of subjects, from gender to politics to economics to race. A recent post on the HomelessFonts project created by the Arrels Foundation made us stop in our tracks. The stunning video tells the stories of each contributor–Loraine, Luis, Francisco, Gemma, and Guillermo–to the font project, a collection of handwritten typefaces that not only support homeless people in Barcelona but also recognize the uniqueness and creativity of these individuals living on the street. This is one of the most dignifying projects we’ve seen in a long time.

HomelessFonts is an Arrels Foundation initiative which consists of creating a collection of typefaces based on the handwriting of the homeless. The idea behind these typefaces is for people and brands to use them in their annoucements. All profits are intended to help the 1,400 people supported by the Arrels Foundation.

Click here to learn more about the HomelessFonts project, online at

July 17, 2014

Fletcher Foundation Reinvents Annual Report


In collaboration with creative agency BC/DC Ideas, North Carolina-based A.J. Fletcher Foundation has introduced a fresh approach to nonprofit storytelling with an entirely digital and interactive 2013 Annual Report. Following the format used by technology-focused organizations like MailChimp, Kickstarter, and Code for America, the foundation has transformed a traditional brochure into an innovative tool to spark a wider conversation with readers, residents of the community, and nonprofit supporters worldwide. With this new mode of digital storytelling, AJF and BC/DC Ideas hope to inspire other nonprofits to challenge how they communicate their impact.

A.J. Fletcher Foundation supports organizations that are working to improve the lives and well-being of North Carolinians. Through decades of grant making, convening, and capacity building we have learned that tackling big issues takes the concerted effort of many. As we work to overcome some of our state’s most pressing challenges, there is a lot we can learn from one another. Fletcher Foundation is committed to doing its part and we look forward to hearing from you about the many ways you are working to improve your communities.

Click here to see the digital AJF 2013 Annual Report, online at

July 16, 2014

15 Concepts Make’s Amplify Shortlist

bicyclesforgirls recently announced a shortlist of 15 concepts for the first-ever Amplify challenge on women’s safety. With over 4,000 participants from 42 countries contributing to 580 submissions, the 15 finalists represent a wide “geographic and programmatic range,” such as MamaCarts that empower women through street food, a Life Skills Camp for girls during holiday breaks, and Bicycles for Girls in Bangladesh. Over the next month, the Amplify team and a panel of experts will select a subset from the shortlist to receive seed funding and design support from to help progress the ideas towards implementation and impact.

We’ve seen an inspiring level of global collaboration between NGOs, students, social entrepreneurs, designers and more. We welcomed a fresh wave of new members from implementing organisations worldwide and we witnessed a wonderful coming together of individuals and organisations who usually don’t have a space to collaborate on international development issues… We’re honoured to announce our Shortlisted Ideas – a portfolio of 15 top concepts that are geographically diverse, address the challenge brief through different approaches and demonstrate a high potential to impact the lives of women and girls living in low-income urban areas.

Click here to learn about all 15 Amplify Shortlist Concepts, online at

July 16, 2014

e-NABLE Gives the World a “Helping Hand”


“What originally started out as a couple of guys who created something to help one child in need, has grown into a worldwide movement of over 300 volunteer tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference.”

This is the story behind e-NABLE, a volunteer-led collaboration that develops, fabricates, and distributes low-cost 3D printed prosthetics to people with upper limb differences. The Autodesk Foundation is supporting this 3d mechanical hand maker movement with donated copies of the Inventor software through the Tech Impact program to help e-NABLE develop, test, and distribute a new generation of prosthetics. Jon Shull, founder of e-NABLE, shared this about the collaboration with Autodesk.

“These days, the road from good intentions to effective action is paved with tools for design and collaboration.  By making it easy and fun for volunteers to provide enabling technologies to underserved populations, e-NABLE and Autodesk can make a real difference.”

Click here to learn more about e-NABLE on, or click here to learn more about Autodesk Foundation’s Tech Impact Program on

Image source: Jen Owens of Jen Martin Studio

July 16, 2014

5 Washington Schools Receive SAGE Classrooms


Nine SAGE Green Modular Classrooms–designed and developed by Portland State University, Blazer Industries, and Pacific Mobile Structures–are being installed at five elementary schools in Washington state just in time for the start of the 2014-2015 school year. First unveiled at the 2012 Greenbuild Conference in San Francisco, the affordable energy-efficient and healthy classroom design went on to win a SEED Award in 2012. The hallmark installation by Edmonds School District represents a commitment to providing healthy learning environments for future generations.

The SAGE Classroom Design Team has proposed a prototype classroom that achieves the elusive goal of offering the health and environmental benefits of green design at a price school districts can truly afford. The prototype is designed to improve indoor air quality, take advantage of natural day lighting, and reduce both indoor contaminants and energy usage at little more than the cost of current models… This results in a healthier atmosphere that is more conducive to learning as well as a sturdier and more reusable classroom.

Click here to learn more about the SAGE Green Modular Classrooms, online at

July 15, 2014

Design Without Borders Seeking 2 Designers


We recently discovered Oslo-based Design Without Borders, a nonprofit foundation that provides innovation and design services for international businesses and NGOs focused on development and emergency relief in developing countries. DWB has a diverse portfolio of projects, including designing mine-clearing equipment, lifejackets for fishermen, and progressive shelters. The foundation is seeking two full-time designers with service, product, industrial, or interaction design experience to help scale up their team’s capacity. Applications are due by August 15th, 2014.

Design without Borders carries out projects in collaboration with businesses, civil society, authorities and organisations. We identify the need for design, define the project, develop a financial plan and plan the project, the implementation and the follow-up afterwards. For every project, we hand-pick designers with special competence within the required field.

Click here to learn more about Design Without Borders or click here to apply to join Design Without Borders, online at

July 15, 2014

Firm Foundation Publish Design Field Guide


2013 SEED Award Winner Firm Foundation–a project created by Solo Kota Kita, AECOM UrbanSOS Program, Bappeda Kota Banjarmasin, DTRK Banjarmasin, and PNPM Mandiri Korkot Banjarmasin–has released the “Social Design Field Guide: A Handbook From Experiences in Participatory Design in Indonesia.” The 68-page guide illustrates design tools, methods, and reflections from the process to redesign waterfront spaces in the region of Sungai Jingah in Banjarmasin, Indonesia. The book is available for purchase from Van Alen Books or can be downloaded on Solo Kota Kita’s website or on ISSUU.

This field guide explains the backstory of how we adapted a range of participatory design tools to improve public space in a riverfront informal settlement in Banjarmasin, Indonesia. It is for urban designers who want to work with non-governmental organizations – and, conversely, non-governmental organizations who want to work with urban designers. We made this guide because we think there is much to be gained from cross- pollinating the development sector’s proven tools with the problem-solving and communication strategies of urban design.

Click here to learn more about the “Social Design Field Guide: A Handbook From Experiences in Participatory Design in Indonesia,” online at

July 14, 2014

Reminder: Apply for Ideas that Matter by 7/18

Applications to Sappi‘s 15th annual Ideas that Matter grant program are due this Friday, July 18th. Created to support designers working on communications projects with nonprofit organizations, the program has funded over 500 nonprofit projects since 1999, equaling a contribution of more than $12.5 million to causes that enhance lives, communities, and the planet. Grants in the amount of $5,000 to $50,000 are available to North American designers who have a solution ready for implementation.

Click here to learn more and apply for the 15th annual Ideas that Matter grant program by Friday, July 18th, 2014, online at

Autodesk Foundation is an evolving resource of the Autodesk Foundation, a first-of-its-kind foundation focused on design for a better world.



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