Advanced Design is a nonprofit design organization founded in 2016. This group began as a small design sketching workshop at the University of Illinois at Chicago for a handful of students who wanted to further develop their foundational skill set. These students, eager to bring the contagious energy of their workshops to the larger design community, wanted more.
This led to the founding of their first-ever design conference, SQ1 CON. In addition to its annual conference, Advanced Design works on several key initiatives and developing free resources for the larger design community:
Video library, which houses a number of design sketching tutorials created in collaboration with working design professionals across the country,
Context, a creative podcast space that has hosted some of the most forward-thinking designers to share industry insights.
Archive, a bi-weekly feature on design book finds and recommendations from us and hosting members from the design community.
Advanced Design also plans to tackle issues of mental health, education, politics, as well as the different avenues of design through discourse utilizing its large social platform. Advanced Design now operates between Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, and San Francisco and collaborates with over 50 studios, educators, schools, and design professionals.
On August 5th, 2019, Advanced Design’s Outreach initiative held a design workshop at New Trier Middle School in Winnetka, IL, introducing a hundred fifth- through eighth-grade students to creative problem solving and how it relates to real-world applications.
The scope of the workshop was to walk students through the research, ideation, and early prototyping phases of creating a backpack. Students were tasked with identifying key pain points within their morning commute, and then brainstorming ideas that may help mitigate them. They were challenged to think big – and they certainly delivered some unique ideas. Students quickly grew excited as they began to work with an endless amount of craft supplies, including pipe cleaners, flexible foam, and a large supply of fabric cut-offs.
The energy and the momentum of the workshop grew as the creativity of the students began to manifest itself in their backpack designs. Students took matters into their own hands by sketching, mocking up, and eventually fabricating semi-functional prototype packs that they could wear and demonstrate. What began as a simplified introduction to how some designers think ended up becoming an infinitely creative design studio and a new crop of junior designers.
Thanks to Tiffany Do for her editing assistance.
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