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Meriah Garrett

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TeachDesign: Making Ideas Real

After teaching local high-school students the benefits of design, a team of frog designers helps them realize a goal. design mind on GOOD is a...

After teaching local high-school students the benefits of design, a team of frog designers helps them realize a goal.

design mind on GOOD is a series exploring the power of design by the editors of design mind magazine. New posts every Tuesday and Thursday.

As mentioned in our first post on this blog, “Why We Should Teach Design Early,” our initiative, TeachDesign, is a collaboration between a team of designers from the Austin studio of frog design, architects from SHW Group, and the Austin Digital Media Council. The team is currently working with a group of students at McCallum High School to imagine a common space on campus that is useful, interactive, and inspiring.

At the end of January, we sat down with the students to take stock of the project and ask them about their experience to date. “I think back to that one meeting where we printed out pictures all over the table to start expanding where we could go with the space and understanding design philosophy,” recalled one student, referring to an inspiration board exercise. “I found what we did in the beginning really exciting. We learned all about design and then we all got to go do whatever we wanted with our ideas. If you learn something basic you can apply it to anything you want.”

While the foundational discussions, exercises, and group activities were the same for everyone, each student brought their own perspective to the process. Because of that, each also had their own approach to the problem at hand. Here are a few quotes from the students on the team revealing their initial thinking:

“I started out with what I wanted in the school that we didn’t have.”

“My group of friends are very green and earth-conscious so I wanted to integrate aspects of that into the design.”

“I started with the area that we were designing for. I was thinking of different structures that would relate to the environment and that would also be interactive and draw the students in.”

“There’s lots of different groups of students at McCallum, so you have to abstract it up into the things they do. A lot of the students sit outside because our cafeteria isn’t big enough.”

After extensive freeform design exploration, the team narrowed the ideas down to a single concept: a set of repeating circles that emerge from and carve into the hill that the students selected as their primary site. Together the circles form a rhythmic seating and gathering area with some table-style workspace. The design is codenamed “Bubbles.”


















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