← Return to Seizing an AlternativeSection XII

Track 3: Design for Social Innovation

Do you have a big idea? What about a big challenge? Join us and learn how to use design thinking as a tool to think through social challenges collaboratively.

Design thinking popularized by IDEO’s Tim Brown is a “human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

From sustainability to government, be it a logo or a plan for the California water crisis, design thinking can give you a practical and creative way to create solutions. Through a mix of lectures and workshops, design thought leaders will describe their processes and put that knowledge into practice by breaking into small groups to teach first-hand techniques.

Track Heads

Alex Molloy

Creative Strategist and Social Impact Interaction Designer

A self proclaimed urban-adventurer-tech-design nerd, I have been passionate about technology and design ever since my days of 90s education gaming . In 2010 I started my foray into start-up life and have been involved in marketing, community management, project management and most experience and interface design.

From mobile applications, social platforms or even logo branding, I maintain my excitement about design through the continuous flow of new projects. I am inspired by innovation and using design thinking for social good. I also guest lecture at the UCB Haas School of Business in the Entrepreneurship class about design thinking for business.

To keep a positive life balance, you can also find me exploring new (and sometimes off-limits) places, learning about the science of deduction, holding sewing/crafting/art dinner parties, doing tripod headstands, attending museums and a consuming a healthy serving of documentaries.

In a past life I was a UCSB student double majoring in Art Studio (Emphasis: Photography) and Global Studies (Emphasis: Africa). From there I partook in a myriad of adventures before settling in one place including travel through South America, working for a stock photography agency in LA, WOOF-ing (farming) tomatoes in Berlin, walking the Camino de Santiago, cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa, working as a photojournalist for the Oakland Tribune, rainforest foraging in Zimbabwe, camping outside in winter in the southernmost city (Ushuaia), having Champu – a “pet” elephant for a day in Thailand and photographing in 30 countries.



Marc O’Brien
Design Strategist, Creative Facilitator

Friday, June 5th 2015
Section 1

The Bookends of Design Thinking

Design thinking has been in the spotlight the last few years. This process has helped people innovate within a number of industries, coming up with unique solutions to challenges or creating opportunities for a new market.

After a brief overview of Design Thinking, Marc O’Brien will cover the “bookends” that one should consider before starting this process.

Who is the right person to facilitate this process? What are the right questions that need to be asked during the process? Who are the people that need to be in the room during the discovery phase? How are ideas moved forward once the process is complete?—is it ever complete?

Marc O’Brien is a designer bent on creating a better world using design strategy, unique workshop facilitation, more far-reaching campaign strategies, and more useful design research.

He thinks wrong (in other words, he starts from the opposite or a random spot from conventional thinking) when solving problems. He’s led creative strategy and innovation workshops for large companies to small Silicon Valley startups. He is adjunct faculty at CCA, working on a new immersive program allowing all students from any department to work on real world challenges in partnership with clients, organizations and companies, in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Ben Gaydos
Designer, filmmaker, artist and educator

Friday, June 5th 2015
Section 2

Pirates & Cheerleaders: Ethnographic Design in Pedagogy and Practice

This lecture and workshop will present a collection of projects which take an anthropological approach to the design process, adapting ethnographic techniques such as participant observation, collaboration/co-creation, multivocal representation and reflexivity.

Ben Gaydos is a Detroit-based designer, filmmaker, artist and educator. He has conducted research in design and anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received his MFA in Visual Communication/Design. His experiments in design, sound, film and video have been exhibited internationally. Ben has presented his work at Rhode Island School of Design, Case Western, and MIT’s Media Lab, among other institutions. Ben is currently Assistant Professor of Design at the University of Michigan—Flint, where he directs the Design Studio.


John Bielenberg
Designer & Entrepreneur

Saturday. June 6th 2015
Section 3

Why ‘Thinking Wrong’ Will Change The World

In 2003, John created Project M, an immersive program designed to inspire and educate young designers, writers, photographers, and filmmakers by proving that their work—especially their wrongest thinking—can have significant impact on communities.

In the creative process, humans are victims of their own synaptic connections; subconsciously we’re following predictable pathways to solve problems whereas what you would want at the beginning of a design challenge is as many possibilities as you could imagine.’Thinking Wrong’ is about breaking those biases and synaptic pathways to generate a lot of potential solutions before you select and execute the best one for your challenge.

Find out how Thinking Wrong and Rapid Ingenuity are your secret tools for driving positive change in the world.

John Bielenberg is a designer, entrepreneur, and imaginative advocate for a better world. He is the founder of Project M, CCA Secret Project and co-founder of Future and Common.

He has won more than 250 design awards in his career, including the 2013 AIGA Gold Medal for leadership in the design for good movement. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has acquired six of his design projects, and staged a solo exhibition of his work in 2000.


Kim Baer
Designer and Principal at KBDA

Saturday. June 6th 2015
Section 4

How Design Thinking Can Design your Company Culture

After teams have employed design thinking to ideate and prototype solutions, these same practices can be employed to mobilize organizations and embrace the change required for successful launch.

Take design thinking skills that have solved challenges in the world, and use them in change management to solve problems within the organization.

Kim Baer is principal and founder of Los Angeles–based design studio KBDA. She developed an early interest in graphic design as a way to integrate three distinct passions: helping organizations find their voice, exploring the power of the written word, and celebrating the ways smart visual solutions can make people sit up and take notice.

Leveraging a variety of talents, KBDA’s projects span print, exhibition design, experience design and online applications. The firm’s client list ranges from consumer-oriented companies, such as Nike and Hyatt, to nonprofit organizations such as the LA Phil and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. KBDA’s work is consistently honored by design and business organizations across the country and has been featured in numerous design compilations and publications, including Communication Arts, Print, Graphis, STEP and HOW.

Kim serves on the national board of the American Institute of Graphic Design (AIGA.) She was named an AIGA Fellow by AIGA Los Angeles, in honor of her service and achievement.


Lawrence Azerrad
Graphic Designer and Creative Director

Saturday. June 6th 2015
Section 5

Culture & Cause: How design for social good and album artwork are connected in the work of one design studio, and how we strive to make an impact in the life of everyday people.

We’re looking at transforming the way we think about engaging the public through design for social good and design for music culture. After working with a spectrum of clients in both fields, this is an examination of the natural connections and overlapping of cultural impact between design for cause related work and design for album artwork.

Design for both worlds are about making an impact in our culture and elevating the human experience. Can we bring power to the way we engage people in cause related work that is inspired by our work in music culture? And vice versa, how does awareness of cultural impact in social good work affect the design we make for music culture.

Lawrence Azerrad is a Los Angeles based Graphic Designer and Creative Director.

Azerrad founded LADdesign, a graphic design studio dedicated to elevating our cultural experience through good design. Since 2001 LADdesign has created graphic design and comprehensive visual identity systems for clients such as The Clinton Foundation, The Beach Boys, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Heal The Bay, Oliver Peoples Eyewear, Red Bull Sound Select, House of Waris for Forevermark Diamonds, Hotels, Spas, and Wilco.

Prior to opening LADdesign, he worked as an art director at Warner Bros Records, creating packaging and artwork for artists such as Miles Davis, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. He has taught Graphic Design at Art Center College of Design, The Academy of Art University, San Francisco, and UCLA. He is currently serves as an Advsory Board Member for the Los Angeles chapter of the AIGA.

He is the author of a personal project, a design history of the supersonic luxury airliner, Concorde. This project is included in the collection of the San Francisco Airport Museum.


Isis Krause & Carolyn Sams
Co-founders of First Seating

Sunday. June 7th 2015
Section 6

Listening, Empathy, and Collaboration

A hands-on crash course on the three fundamental skills necessary to be a master design thinker, no matter what kind of projects and teams you’re working with.

Over the course of this 90-minute workshop, participants will learn how to conduct design thinking interviews, map insights, and be a pro at collaborative brainstorming. You’ll leave with a workbook full of tips and tools that can be used on future projects.

Isis Krause and Carolyn Sams, co-founders of First Seating, have run dozens of collaborative strategy and design thinking workshops for startups and local nonprofits, as well as major brands and foundations. First Seating’s fresh approach mixes expert facilitation, smart strategy, and delicious food to help organizations get to better ideas and stronger teams.


Matthew Manos
Artist, strategist, and author

Sunday. June 7th 2015
Section 7

Poetic Innovation for Social Change

The act of reading and writing poetry empowers social innovators to develop a vocabulary for empathy, an eye for opportunity, and an equal appreciation for the mundane and the magnificent through introspective observation and reflection. Our session will begin with a look into the impact poetic practices can have on innovation as well as a series of poetry-writing methodologies geared toward designers and social innovators that have been developed to cultivate new perspectives on the development of innovative solutions, and the discovery of societal problems. Finally, the session will culminate in a guided activity that will enable each attendee to create their own collaborative poems.

Matthew Manos is an artist, strategist, and author interested in experimental economies and conditional systems for creative inquiry.

He is the Founder and Managing Partner/Global Strategy Lead at verynice, a design, strategy, and foresight consultancy that gives half of its work away for free to non-profit organizations.

Matthew is also the author of How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free, creator of the Models of Impact project, and Adjunct Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the California College of the Arts’ MBA in Strategic Foresight program. He holds a BA in Design Media Arts from UCLA, and an MFA in Media Design Practices from Art Center College of Design.


Katharine Hargreaves
Experience design strategist

Sunday. June 7th 2015
Section 8

Design Thinking: Find Your Tools

An interactive workshop exploring how design thinking can turn any challenge into an opportunity. Find your tools, frame your path, and learn how to create your best life using critical thinking, creative exercises, and empathy.

Katharine Hargreaves is a design strategist and digital nomad building systems and infrastructure for the new era. As a multi-disciplinary designer, strategist, educator, and entrepreneur, her work explores new storylines, digital networks, and collaborative platforms where the connected future happens.

Her background and training in communication, adaptive leadership, education and workshop facilitation, creative direction, arts advocacy, and community activism inform a holistic perspective that seeks to mediate conflict within systems.

Postings from Seizing an Alternative


Suggested Resources

Human-Centered Design Tools

Design Thinking

NYT article

Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership

Related Posts

Arcadia and the Western Imagination

Something Is Growing @ Pando

Flowers for Sick People

The Thing with Feathers