Questions on Social Impact Design

Think back to when you first discovered social impact design. Your head buzzed with excitement. You enthusiastically told your friends, family and anyone with a willing ear about this new area of work you want to dedicate yourself to. You Googled (or even dug through the–gasp!–library records) to research people, projects, theory, and history on it. You read magazines, books, blogs, anything you could get your hands on about it.

But that just whet your appetite.Continue Reading

Why I am a Social Impact Designer


After six months on maternity leave, I took some time to review my career and discover what I want to do next. To kickstart the next chapter, I wanted to share a longer version of my journey into social impact design and why this site was created. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired to share your story with me! Let’s get reading…

Leaving my small California hometown at the age of 18 was my first big solo adventure. I chose to study architecture at Tulane for three reasons:

  1. I was able to receive a masters degree in five years, as opposed to the typical 7-9 year route (yes, I like to be efficient with time ;]);
  2. the university attracted students from all over the US;
  3. and the city of New Orleans was unlike anywhere I had been before.

Deep down, though, it gave me an opportunity to explore the potential in myself in a place 2,000 miles from where I grew up surrounded by new people.

During the first four years at Tulane, I had grown tremendously as a person. I had been exposed to so many new things: food, people, thinking, culture, music, and the Big Easy lifestyle. It wasn’t always easy—I missed my family, friends, and the comforts of California that I grew to miss. But as I entered the summer of 2005 ready to work on my master’s thesis, I vividly remember the feeling of independence, confidence, and possibility. All I had left was one year of research, writing, designing, and presenting the project I selected—and then I’d be off into the world to become an architect.

But that plan fell apart August 27th, 2005.Continue Reading

Designing Business Models for Impact


An interview with verynice founder Matthew Manos on his journey in impact design, a new consultancy, and the importance of thinking business model first.

An exciting new design consultancy just launched–but it’s not offering your typical architectural, communication, web, industrial, or interior design services. Instead, the 2-month-old firm Models of Impact designs business models for nonprofits, startups, and social entrepreneurs.

Began as a research project at the communications and strategy firm verynice, Models of Impact evolved in two years from a collection of social impact business models, to a free interactive site, to now a consultancy offering one-on-one workshops for those seeking to create sustainable organizations.Continue Reading

Discovering Inner Creativity through #The100DayProject

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It’s April 6th, 2015 and I have a blank sheet of paper staring back at me. Little watercolor paint blocks are neatly arranged in a ceramic holder. Brushes are resting on top of a tumbler filled to the brim with water. I haven’t been in this situation for a while. My mind is racing. What should I do? What colors do I use? What story do I want to tell? Start with home, I tell myself. I swipe a swirl of blue from one edge to another. The Thames. Yellow washes the paper, getting richer and darker near my neighborhood in East London. The radiant energy pulses from where I’m metaphorically sitting on the paper. A dot marks the spot, because why not? My first painting is complete.

Continue Reading

How to Define Your Path in Social Impact Design


Stefan Sagmeister querying the What Design Can Do audience on levels of happiness

This question continues to pop-up from people who are interested in working and participating in the field, yet there aren’t too many resources on how to do this. Part of the issue is social impact design doesn’t have the same structure and clear career path as other design professions like architecture and design. It’s nascent and this is both exciting and daunting.

Based on my nine years working within the field, here are a few pieces of advice on how to begin to define your own path.Continue Reading