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Sharing Their Love of Design

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Love was in the air the week of October 22 when our second annual Designers-in-School Week paired DT Philly teams with design professionals who are passionate about the work they do in fields like architecture, product design, UX design, and more.

The visiting designers talked about their favorite projects (and tv shows), career paths, inspiration, and the importance of empathy and user research before turning their attention to the students’ own work using design thinking to address a problem in their school or community.  Here are some highlights from the week:

  • Architect Ian Smith visited Michael Rocco’s classroom at Longstreth School and launched into an animated discussion about understanding systems and creating change.  After his presentation Mr. Smith walked the school with students to get a better understanding of their problem and challenged them to think deeply and critically about the many details and nuances they’ll need to consider to craft an effective solution to their design challenge.
  • UX designer Jackie Dinarte and web developer Bryan Sadler, who have been developing an app to help people find doctors at Jefferson Health, spoke to Peter McDermott’s class at Benjamin Franklin High School about what it takes to identify a real need and design a solution that is intuitive and easy to use.  Ms. Dinarte reinforced what the students are learning in DT Philly by talking about how she uses the five stages of the design process.  Ms. Dinarte and Mr. Sadler also engaged the students in a series of fun demos to introduce them to coding and illustrate how graphic design can help or hinder communication.
  • During presentations to students in both Jeffrey Bowes’ class at Welsh School and Kathy Walsh’s class at Building 21, architect Andrew Ferrarelli walked students through a real-world design project—repurposing a historic synagogue as a performing arts center—from ideation to construction.  The images and stories captured the students’ attention and prompted more than a few incredulous questions, which led to a discussion of the many types of skills and expertise needed to bring a project like that to life.
  • Exhibit designer Porsche Jackson wowed the artistic and tech-savvy students in Cheryl Padgett’s class at Tilden Middle School by sharing renders so realistic the students mistook them for photos.  Ms. Jackson explained how important it is for her renders to be realistic so her clients know exactly what they are getting, and also how her work helps clients communicate a message about their brand…like generating a cool and edgy vibe for a gaming chair exhibit or a cozy and inviting feel for a restaurant chain exhibit.
  • At Shawmont School, industrial designer Eric Schneider and one of his graduate students at Jefferson University taught Bernadette Banaszak’s classes how products are created.  They passed around prototypes of an iron, discussed images from other projects, and talked about some of the cool places Mr. Schneider’s students have gone on to work. 
  • New Foundations Charter School got a visit from lighting designer Chelsea Saada who showed the students on Collin McCann’s DT Philly team how thoughtful lighting can transform a space, direct attention, and set a mood.  Ms. Saada also shared portfolio work from her time as a student and worked with Mr. McCann’s team to structure some of the research for their DT Philly project. 
  • UX designer Pete Fleming lost no time engaging Gina Griffith’s class at Grover Washington Jr. Middle in interactive activities illustrating how a designer’s decisions can make it harder or easier for people to use a product or complete a task.  Afterward, Mr. Fleming worked one-on-one with each of the seven teams on refining their user personas for their projects.
  • 3D modeling specialist Dan Brown spoke with Fran McAdams’ class at Lincoln High School about the power and importance of visual communication, sharing work he’s done on projects ranging from coffee shops and clothing stores to NBA arenas and even the papal visit in 2015. 
  • Denise Magasich’s class at Lincoln High School enjoyed a visit from the very architect who designed their school, Michael Spain.  After illustrating the creative process behind the design of the building, Mr. Spain fielded questions that led to an earnest and important discussion about the differences that can emerge between a design’s intention and its real-world use as well as how needs evolve over time.

What an interesting and exciting week!  We are grateful to all of our visiting designers for sharing their wisdom, enthusiasm, attention, and time with our school partners.