The Design Loft Experience has the mission to inform and engage professionals working in human services in praxis-based learning about design for action. The Design Loft is an experience-based training initiative that builds practical skills through hands-on, short-burst, focused training aimed at supporting professionals in building their creative confidence in applying design methods to their work.
The Design Loft initiative (so named for its location in the Pulse Loft at the Marriott Peachtree Center in Atlanta) began as part of the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) 2016 annual conference theme of evaluation + design as a means of providing professional evaluators with exposure to the skills and tools that designers use in their work. This unique ‘pop-up conference’ was conceived of by Cense Principal & President, Cameron Norman, and John Gargani, the 2016 President of the AEA and President of Gargani & Co. working with the senior leadership of the AEA. This conference-within-a-conference focused on eight one-hour micro-lessons that gave evaluators a chance to learn a single design skill or technique.
The program was structured as a set of 45-minute interactive sessions that were designed to expose learners to a single method used within Design with the aim of providing a hands-on experience to enable attendees to walk away with a ‘tool’ that they could use in their work. The workshop format includes a short 10-minute instructional session to orient learners (self-organized around whiteboard tables) and a 30-35 hands-on workshop to apply the technique supported by coaching from the instructor.
The short-burst sessions provided an opportunity for attendees to explore their assumptions about creativity, work with people they just met, and co-create something using a case study related to their work using a single technique. The overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response to the event led to an expansion of the experience to include participation in the 2017 AEA conference.
An independent evaluation was conducted of the Design Loft experience for the AEA with the results suggesting that attendees benefitted from taking part:
- 87 percent of attendees were likely or very likely to recommend the Design Loft to their peers
- 89 percent of attendees said they were likely to use their skills acquired at the Design Loft
- 72 percent said they were likely to share their design skills with others
- 90 percent of attendees reported they were likely to continue developing their design skills post-event
The basic skills and techniques of a designer are available to everyone. By learning how to approach problems, think like a designer, and draw on tools, methods, and a designer’s mindset, it’s possible to become better at generating useful ideas and converting them into usable and impactful products. By learning these design skills, non-designers can create more on their own and better recruit, work with, and support professional designers as part of teams looking to tackle complex problems.
If you are interested in design for impact, contact us and we can bring the loft experience to you.