Are You Really Behind?


The months are flying by. You look up at the calendar and ask yourself, “Where did the time go? Has it really been that long?”

That’s what I asked myself when I looked at the date of the most recent post here on Design Affects. November 3rd? Sheesh. Then I made a list of all the work that I’ve been doing elsewhere and realized that although the site has been dormant, a lot has happened over the past three months. Here are the projects that have been keeping me busy.

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Mapping Impact: project on impact assessment for design

Since taking Acumen’s Making Sense of Social Impact course in June last year, my teammates Gilad, Ansley, and I have been interested in how to apply assessment tools and methods to design. Over the past six months, we’ve developed this idea into a research project to collect and disseminate tools, metrics, and methods for designers to use. We’re just getting started but the enthusiasm within our peer networks is already growing. We’ll be launching the website soon! In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more send me an email at katie[at]


From Architecture to Social Impact Design”: interview on Careershifters

The wonderful team at Careershifters invited me to share my journey into social impact design in their series of “Success Stories.” From what went “right” to what went wrong, I was honored to share lessons I learned from my shift (and lessons I’m still learning.) Here’s an excerpt:

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Crafting a new identity for myself. I’d been working in the architecture industry for six years, so most of my contacts knew me as an architect with a skill-set full of drawing, designing, and 3D modelling. Even today, I still have people endorsing me on LinkedIn for skills I haven’t used in over two years!

I’m still working on creating a new narrative that represents what I’m interested in and where I’m headed on my career path. It’ll be a lifetime of rewriting!


Essay on “Enterprise” in EMPOWERMENT Exhibit

The brilliant Glasgow-based Orkidstudio organized an exhibit on “social change through building” at the Lighthouse Centre for Design and Architecture. Accompanied by stunning photos of projects from around the world, Orkidstudio invited practitioners and project contributors to write essays and share stories around four themes: Enterprise/Engage, Equality, Educate, and Inspire. Writing the essay on Enterprise reminded me why I first became interested in this work and it evolved into a working thesis on what I’d like to do moving forward. Here’s a taste of the essay, which will be on view until March 1 and available afterwards in a book.

Architecture—defined as “the art or practice of designing and constructing buildings”—began as an object for me. While studying in university, I was obsessed with the form, materials, and details. I studied ancient and modern masters like Michelangelo, Boromini, Corbu, Wright, and Gehry in an attempt to learn how to they created iconic buildings. I even had the opportunity to visit a few of their masterpieces in person. While wandering the spaces, I touched the walls, admired the intricate details, and took thousands of pictures to serve as tokens of my experience—tokens that I hoped would shape my future career. However, in all five years of studying architecture, there was one key element missing: people.


2 Articles in PUBLIC Journal

PUBLIC Journal is gaining traction and I’ve been fortunate to contribute quarterly to the burgeoning journal. In the most recent issue, the small but influential TYIN tegnestue was the subject of my article “Crafting an Architecture of Necessity.” The thoughtfulness and honesty behind TYIN’s tactical and engaging work is really special. I’ve also just wrapped up my fourth article on the global coworking network Impact Hub. Keep an eye out for that one over the next couple months!


Exploring Australia’s Social Impact Scene

Since mid December, I temporarily relocated to Melbourne, Australia. Besides getting a healthy dose of summer and spectacular natural scenery, I’ve been learning about the social impact design scene down under. I’ll be attending the 2nd annual Link Festival in two weeks along with meeting individually with designers here in Melbourne before I head back to London in March.


Publishing articles on Medium

As part of the 30 minute audit on my narrative, I’ve begun to transfer my Design Affects posts to Medium. This not only provides me another platform to publish, it’s also allowing me to test reaching a new audience. Follow the Design Affects publication on


New role at Impact Design Hub

Finally, the biggest piece of work I’ve undertaken the past two months is shifting my position from daily writer to editor at Impact Design Hub. We’ve hired a new content manager to do the daily writing and social media, freeing me up to manage the blog, work with contributors, connect with the audience, and lead the overall vision of the blog. I’m excited to have another team member who’s equally enthusiastic and passionate about social impact design. Plus, I’m thrilled to spend time on the bigger vision for IDH and the field of impact design.

The need to reflect and assess your work

With all this work I still managed to squeeze in some time to begin my 2014 review / 2015 goals, Chris Guillebeau style (yes, I’m joining that blogger pack that does this.) The most important part of this exercise was giving me time to reflect on what I accomplished this past year, even if it didn’t match the original intentions. For instance, I had set out to write 1-2 times a week on Design Affects but ended up writing once every 2 weeks. Then I added the 520 Impact Design Hub posts, 4 PUBLIC Journal articles, and 3 other writing contributions and I realized that I indeed accomplished writing 1-2 times per week (1.5 to be exact), just in a different way. There is something to be said for giving yourself time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, even if you see how it changed.

If you’d like to speak more about any of these projects or something you’d like to share, feel free to comment below or send me an email at katie[at]designaffects[dot]com. I know I’m not the only one who’s working on exciting projects!

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One Response to Are You Really Behind?

  1. John C says:

    I really enjoy your articles. They are inspiring and always useful, even for a retiree like me. Kinda wish I were back in the workforce again.

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