Design opportunity is a platform that connects non-profit organizations with design colleges worldwide and gives meaningful design briefs to challenge talented students. Design opportunity gives incredible work experience in a professional setting where the students are fully responsible for the outcomes of their assigned projects. An amazing experience that improves the student's problem-solving skills by tackling real issues and observing how their strategies benefit the community. Students are directly connected to non-profit organizations around the world that introduce them to new cultures and enable direct contact to new communities.
Design Opportunity is a senior studio project lapsing over a 10-week period. Prior to its commencement, the Industrial Design Chair described the course as a form of implementing the skills learnt throughout our college career in order to establish our suitability to graduate.
Preceding the course, I brainstormed ideas attempting to decipher a direction for the project. Linking it back to Botswana was my initial drive. Gaborone, Botswana was the city where I grew up and lived most of my life. The people and life allowed for many experiences creating inspiration for my final project. Visiting the various orphanages whilst in Gaborone allowed me to realize the amount of community service I did prior to my major studies. My lack of community service involvement is primarily due to my intense student-athlete schedule. Through extensive research I came to the problem I wished to tackle: how can one teach design or new skill to someone that does not have the privilege to do so? I began the primary and secondary research by initiating the first phase of ideation sketches for a product that would allow the orphans to be able to either play or use the product to help them in their daily routines and simultaneously enable them to learn a new skill; creating a career for them in the future. This was my work's status after the completion of the first week, meaning that in order to achieve my goal I had to work quickly and efficiently.
After 3 week of Research/Ideation Phase the concept shifted to a new direction; allowing me to phantom the "bigger picture."
The business outline for the project was created by user-testing the primary concept, creating a strategy that allows easier access for students to be connected to communities world-wide in need of design strategies to support their causes. This would give students the Design Opportunity. The initial stages of the plan involved collecting as much data as possible to start the "design opportunity portal." I created a table of the goals, direction and guide that made it easier for me to track the project since it was divided in two separate project goals. Generating the physical website included: researching existing services, user testing, graphics explorations, etc. To prove that the concept would work, I contacted a non-profit organization to be the wire framing, ideation, journey maps, creating personas, building motivators, interaction touch points, testing the channels, Spatial design as it relates to physical interiors, exhibitions or first to use my system and test its success.
Design Opportunity was created within 7 weeks, gaining connections to 6 different non-profit organizations around the world and more than 30 students willing to be part-take as the first recruits to the fellowship program. Goals were set and Design Opportunity established its first challenges: design briefs for students to complete by a designated deadline.
Challenge 1: Collaboration between a group of Architecture and Interior Design students to design homes for orphans in Mombasa by using existing materials around the area. Criterion: create maximum space, using easy and safe building methods, and the rest was open to student interpretation.
The goal for the particular project was not only for the students to gain great portfolio pieces but also to get involved in the project by becoming motivated to visit the site and make the concept a reality. We were fortunate that if the students completed the challenge, they would be invited to visit and meet the children in Mombasa, Kenya. They would only pay for the ticket and the rest of the trip was paid for; due to the strong connection made.
Challenge 2: This was directed to Illustration, Painting and Graphic Design majors. Students were connected to the Al Noor Learning Center for Children with Disabilities in Dubai. The challenge for the students is to create coloring books. The theme would be to create portraits of the children at Al Noor and create captivating stories. The aim of the project was for students to learn more about the Arabic culture as well as give the children a new and fun way of learning.
Challenge 3: I got connected to a man named Ronald Williams. He was in need of a fundraising campaign for his liver transplant in order to raise $50,000. I felt that this was an urgent challenge that I would tackle to prove and test the effectiveness of the Design Opportunity system. The fundraiser in the Georgia Transplant Foundation, only had a one page description of his situation.
The challenge was to create the branding, posters, pamphlets, website and video for the fundraiser but especially focus on translating his life story in the most meaningful way. It was an unbelievable experience, to get to meet him and his family to showcase his life story to help raise money for the cause.This is a link to his website that I created; http://www.thewilliamsfundraiser.com/
In conclusion Design opportunity gives students work experience in a professional setting where they are fully responsible for the outcomes of the projects that are assigned. Students are directly connected to non-profit organizations around the world that introduce them to new cultures and enable direct contact to new communities.By becoming a Fellow member of Design Opportunity the students gain the following skills: (1) cultural education (2) exposure to real issues (3) portfolio pieces (4) problem solving skills (5) technical and design skills (6) Gain contacts (7) Networking & exposure (8) Most importantly help people.
We loved the idea of connecting design students who are eager to work, with those who need their services.
Coming from design schools, we all understood how helpful it was to apply to things you were learning in the studio, and using those skills to benefit non-profits is a great pairing.