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Best of 2013: The Top 10 Public Interest Design Videos

Here are ten videos—in chronological order—that captured our attention at Public Interest Design over the past year and represent the range of initiatives shaping the dialogue around design education, practice, and performance.

Here are ten videos—in chronological order—that captured our attention at Public Interest Design over the past year and represent the range of initiatives shaping the dialogue around design education, practice, and performance. From North Carolina to Rwanda to Bangladesh, the stories shared below are sure to make you reflect on the outstanding accomplishments made in 2013, along with inspiring you for what lies ahead in 2014.

1. Extreme by Design Film Trailer

The film--which debuted on PBS last week and is available to watch for free this week--follows students enrolled in Stanford’s popular Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability course. From Palo Alto to Bangladesh, the students embark on creating life-changing products for people living in poverty using ‘design thinking.’ The story resonates with an overall shift-change in higher education that we’ve been seeing, where courses are shaped around ‘real world’ problems, students interact directly with clients, and solutions have a direct impact on communities.


2. "If You Build It" Film Trailer

IF YOU BUILD IT spends a year with design activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller of Studio H as they teach a design/build course for high school students in rural Bertie County, North Carolina. The story develops beyond skills learned in design and construction to uncover dreams and aspirations shared by teenagers--from rural to urban--across the nation.


3. SEEDoc: Nyanza Maternity Hospital

MASS Design Group’s work continues to garner attention due to the simple yet profound improvements to healthcare facilities around the world. The film about Nyanza Maternity Hospital project--one of six winners of the 2012 SEED Awards--displays how the collaborations between organizations and community members can create a facility to improve the treatment of infants and mothers, further impacting the health and future of Rwandans.


4. Archiculture Film Trailer

Architecture school. If you’ve been there, you are familiar with the atmosphere--crumpled trace paper balls, balsa wood and chipboard model pieces strewn about, laptops open with half-rendered 3D models, and students so invested in their design ideas that they don’t sleep. The Archiculture film highlights not only what many architecture students and faculty live through every day but also the shift change that’s occurring within the field. Screenings have already begun at festivals, conferences, universities and organizations around the world in anticipation of the public debut in Summer 2014.


5. Art Directors Club Launches 50/50 Campaign

Advocating for 50/50 representation of women and men in award show juries, boards of directors, and events and speaker lineups, the ADC launched this video for Let’s Make the Industry 50/50 Initiative, which has elicited over 480 signatures of support and a directory of leading females in creative industries. The ADC’s call to action aligns with the many discussions that occurred in 2013 about female representation across a range of fields--including Denise Scott Brown’s Pritzker Prize petition and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book--that we hope will continue in 2014 and beyond.


6. MAKERS Profile: Majora Carter

Community development pioneer and environmental justice advocate Majora Carter shares her story about how she first distanced herself to only then return and help improve her home community of the South Bronx. With the idea that “no one has to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one,” this video is sure to inspire you to appreciate the place you call home, and perhaps even find ways to improve it with your neighbors.

7. MAKERS Profile: Jane Chen

Jane Chen, Co-Founder and CEO of Embrace, shares the story of how she first became interested in improving healthcare in developing countries and how the infant warmer was first conceived in the MAKERS film series. As you’ve probably noticed, we’re big fans of how Embrace is operating as a joint for-profit and non-profit company to provide affordable infant warmers and this film captures the spirit of Chen and the Embrace team.

8. LEAP Symposium Video

In September, the LEAP Symposium--hosted by the Designmatters program at Art Center College of Design--brought together design students, educators, practitioners, and supporters to focus on “the new professional frontier in design for social innovation.” The video, along with the extensive Outcomes section on the website, captures the issues, thoughts, and discussions to evoke conversations on the variety of career pathways we will undertake in this burgeoning field of public interest design.


9. Studio TAMassociati & Emergency

Italian architecture firm Studio TAMasscoiati and NGO Emergency won one of four Curry Stone Design Prizes this year, which included $40,000 cash prize and a short film. The two organizations’ collaboration to design and build health centers and bring “equal dignity and equal rights” to people in Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone is beautifully documented in the film.


10. NASHI Designing for People & Place

With a mission to improve housing conditions on Tribal lands, the short video documenting Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative’s first net zero home speaks to not only how design can improve living conditions but also how partnering across disciplines--construction, architecture, engineering, developers, and citizens--early on in education can have profound impacts on students. The stories and diverse perspectives captured in this video are a great precedent for all design programs and projects looking to share their process and stories through film.


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