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MakeReady Initiative: Supporting Designers & Their Creative Potential
MDes Thesis Project (Spring 2014–Spring 2015)
Design Research, Writing, Interaction Design, Service Design, Visual Communication Design, Branding, Photography, Illustration
University of Washington
Thesis Committee: Dominic Muren, Kristine Matthews, Annabelle Gould
Designers are found all over the United States. From large, urban settings (such as Seattle) to smaller, more isolated settings, such as my hometown back in Indiana. Through my research I have found that professional designers in almost every setting are feeling isolated from a local, creative community of their peers and a lack of daily opportunities to learn new skills that allow them to stay current with the ever-shifting landscape of design.
It became clear that a service needed to be devised that would not only help pull these designers out of their current predicament of isolation, but ultimately strengthen the discipline of design as a whole. But this isn’t any normal service. I believe in empowering designers to connect through knowledge that they not only need, but want, so they can better their lives.
Through research and a love for what I do everyday, I designed MakeReady, a service that is dedicated to designers and their creative potential: A community, a support system, learning opportunities, and a place for designers to call home.
There are several deliverables for this project.
Guide Book: This 84 page book will help founders set up their MakeReady Initiative community anywhere in the world. MakeReady as a service is customizable and scalable. So no matter where there is a community of designers, the same principles of the service will apply, just with their local flair.
Community Website: Encourages founders, and the communities formed around MakeReady, to share their approach to building their local community and the learning opportunities they offer. It will be the forum for the service as a whole to grow and for people to learn from one another, and hopefully forming a networking of communities across the U.S.
Exhibition: This will take place in the UW Henry Gallery. The exhibit will invite the public to get excited and learn more about the MakeReady Initiative, how they can be a founder, and set up their own local, creative community.
Grant Proposal: I am seeking funding resources to make at least one MakeReady Initiative a reality. Testing a fully functional space would garner invaluable insights that could only push this service forward and have it grow into new capabilities. Private investors, professional design associations, and open grants are being pursued.
Initial Research Insights Poster (For Public Poster Session: Autumn 2014)
I started this project with primary and secondary research. While I had been working towards my thesis problem space in many way for the previous year, looking into Design Education and the current direction of the Design Discipline, it was time to do more focused research. After setting a preliminary problem space (knowing full well it would change after the research), there were several areas that needed investigating.
Primary research areas included:
1. Multi-Purpose/Specialized Environments
2. Designers’ continued educational pursuits in the U.S. (urban and rural settings)
Secondary research areas included:
1. Education Models
2. Online Learning Opportunities/Experiences
3. Integrative Physical Spaces
4. Makers/Maker Movement
5. History of the Design Discipline (Where have we been and where are we going?)
The research areas listed above took place over the span of two quarters (Autumn 2014 & Winter 2015) and the findings were astounding: My problem space was wrong. I thought for sure that only designers in isolated, rural settings were struggling with staying current. The truth was that all designers, in every setting are struggling to form a creative community that fulfills their continued educational needs. I quickly had to shift gears, redefine my problem space and get moving again.
From this point forward, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to test a physical space, but I could come close by designing a service and physical space that addresses the needs of as many users as I could find. It had to be structured, but customizable enough to fit a large variety of design communities across the country. From here I visited additional physical spaces that brought diverse communities of people together and observed/experienced how their physical layout curated not only the experience, but the culture of people that used the space.
Physical Space Map and Areas of Engagement
User Journey Map
After completing all of my research, interviewing anyone who would speak to me, and visiting as many and diverse physical spaces that would allow me entrance, I finally sat down and tried to incorporate my findings in a service that was thorough, but entirely approachable by anyone. The final artifact was a physical sidekick book that guides each user long-term through how to set up the service that will best serve them in their location and community.
MakeReady Initiative Guide Book (excerpts)
To view a full version of this guide book, please message through the website.
Henry Art Gallery Thesis Exhibition
This exhibition highlighted several areas of engagement that were presented in the guide book that are important when setting up a new community. By setting up in a physical space, it invited visitors to consider what would be important to them as a founder and their community of creatives.