On September 26, 2013, We welcomed 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—to participate in a special event, 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.
Dawn Hancock was the first to share how she incorporates social responsibility into her practice (read the recap here). Up next was Doug Grimmett, who expanded on an impressive presentation that he gave at the 2013 AIGA Leadership Retreat in Philadelphia, about the Atlanta chapters Design For Good program (read the recap here).
Next up were our own Design For Good (DFG) leaders, Michael Carbaugh Hannah Hoffman, and Brittain Peck, who started with a fun activity to demonstrate how you can get ideas for starting your own Window Project. They asked the audience to share something they see around them or experience that bothers them. Then how one might be the first step in affecting change. They also shared some examples that people have already sent in. Following an update on the Triangle Wiki project, the team shared the Window project of Matt Cooper. Matt’s project was inspired by his Mother who battled breast cancer. She felt that there was no outward way to identify someone who was undergoing chemo treatment. The treatment takes a lot out of a patient, and they good use a little extra love and understanding. Matt designed a sticker that reads “Be nice…I just had chemo.” It’s a simple way to let people know why you may be at your best, and inspire compassion in those you meet. The campaign has the potential to branch out into bumper stickers, t-shirts and more.
Our last presenter was Aly Khalifa who spoke about how he incorporates social responsibility and sustainability into his process. Aly’s background is in mechanical engineering and product design. Wanting to find a way to give back, Aly got invovled with the US LEAP organization that works to promote respect for workers in Latin America. Aly was working as a product designer at a bicycle gear company. He got approval to use fabric produced in Guatemala for a line of bicycle gloves. Purchasing the fabric from Guatemala would pour money into their economy. He was surprised the fabric was approved as it was expensive. He said this was the start of his “meddling.”
This got him thinking about the global economy and how things were being made. Dissatisfied in his career, he started Gamil Design, with his wife Beth, in 1995. Gamil Design is “a product and graphic design firm in Raleigh, NC. Since our beginning in 1995, our focus has been on creative, innovative approaches to product, service or brand launches.” 1
Aly talked about Bounty conditions, which are the conditions that you are you willing to constrain your solutions to, and how he maps out those conditions when working on a project.
Aly’s latest project aims to change the way shoes are produced. Eighty-three percent of American shoes are made in China, which than have to be shipped to America via cargo ships, contributing to the carbon footprint. The glue that is used in shoe production is highly toxic and workers are exposed to these toxins daily for extended periods of time, harming both the environment and the health of the workers.
With Lyf Shoes, Aly has created “a disruptive digital manufacturing revolution.” 2 Theses shoes are custom-made in 15 minutes, embedded with electronics that provide a custom fit, are manufactured on demand “without the ovens, adhesives and massive labor requirements typical of the industry.”3 Pretty amazing, right? The shoes also will never make their way to a landfill—where 300,000 pairs of American shoes end up every year—through a buy-back program in which the shoes are disassembled and the components sent back to manufactures for reuse. This is truly a revolutionary product and process, which Aly has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund this project.
Following Aly’s talk, was the presentation of the Fellow Award to Aly Khalifa. Our emcee, Joe Schram introduced Aly and why he was deserving of this honor. The award itself was presented by our second AIGA Fellow, David Burney, alongside Doug Grimmett who himself is a Fellow in the AIGA Atlanta chapter. Pretty cool to have three fellows together in one place on our humble little stage.
After accepting the Felloe Award, Aly joined all our presenters in a Q & A session with the audience. Made Good was a truly inspiring and eye-opening event that included four follow up Take Action events. These sessions continue the conversations from each of our presenters, covering ways to take action in with your peers, at work, in your process, and in your community. We are already thinking about Made Good 2014. If you are interested in getting involved, let us know at email@example.com.