There was a lot of excitement leading up to Made Good: An evening to celebrate design & its promise for social change. In recent years we have seen a movement to create positive social impact through design. Made Good was planned as an event to celebrate this shift in thinking and to hear from three leading design entrepreneurs who have embraced this movement in different ways in their professional practice.
We were pleased to welcome our panelists—Chicago’s Dawn Hancock of Firebelly Design and the Firebelly Foundation; AIGA Atlanta Fellow Doug Grimmett of Primal Screen and Good Thinking Atlanta; and Raleigh’s own Aly Khalifa of Gamil Design, founder of designbox and SPARKcon.
Following a pre-event gathering in the lobby of the Museum of Natural Sciences, that included tasty hors d’oeuvres, a chance to mingle, and the announcement of our Studio Tour poll winner (a clean sweep of all three categories by Myriad Media), attendees took their seats in the WRAL theater.
Dawn Hancock was the first to share how she incorporates social responsibility into her practice. Dawn’s studio, Firebelly, was founded and operates under the mission of “good design for good reason.” Dawn started her studio because she wanted to give back and do work that made a difference. Dawn’s mission and that of Firebellly, has never changed. She has never had to question her ethics, she said.
Dawn creates an air of positivity by surrounding herself with good messages. Some that have inspired her:
- Collect moments not things—life is not about the things you have, it’s about the relationships you create.
- The grass is greener where you water it—change starts from within, and it’s up to you to nurture goals.
- If you live for weekends and vacations, your shit is broken—Find ways to do what you love.
- If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough—if you can envision it you can do it. Her dreams have never seemed crazy to her.
Firebelly believes that design in communicating, and philanthropy is doing, and it is that principle that led to the creation of Firebelly Foundation. The foundation has launched three programs: Reason to Give an online store where shoppers can purchase the basic needs for Chicago’s Humboldt Park Community; Camp Firebelly, a ten-day intensive camp for young designers to act on social justice issues; and Firebelly University, an entrepreneur incubator training designers to work towards a more just society.
Dawn has created a “design for good” culture at Firebelly. She believes that the culture of the studio matters more than even business development. She says, if the culture is there, the business will be there too. Contributing towards that positive culture is an unlimited vacation policy. Dawn believes that if you need time away, you should take it. It costs time and money if you are not in a good place, so it benefits the studio, if you take the time off. Of course, she does have to tell people to take it at times.
The studio encourages projects like Type Force, an event to showcase typographic all-stars. The event is an opportunity to do cool projects and bring people together in a new way.
In closing, Dawn shared that her next big dream is to create an open source platform for programs for doing good. She says Open Source has made a huge difference in doing good, it’s shaping the world today. Documenting and sharing information, processes, and ideas so that anyone can gain knowledge that can help them build their dreams is the path to changing the world.
And on that inspiring note, I am going to let you reflect on that before sharing the next presentation by Doug Grimmett. Stay tuned for part 2 of my recap of Made Good: An evening to celebrate design & its promise for social change.