Institute of Design Earns Top Recognition from Core77 in Social Impact

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Core77 has announced the honorees of its eleventh annual Design Awards.

The Institute of Design, home to the only United States design school devoted completely to graduate students and the first to offer a Ph.D., has won and earned more honors than any other school in the Design for Social Impact category, including the Savannah College of Art & Design, Carnegie Mellon University, Pratt Institute, and Royal College of Art.

Recognizing excellence in all areas of design enterprise, the Core77 Design Awards “celebrate the richness of the design profession as well as the insight and perseverance of its practitioners.” The awards honor students and professionals across 18 distinct design disciplines.

Among the honorees are five distinct projects born at ID. These projects have been recognized nine times across the six categories of Design for Social Impact, Speculative Design, Service Design, Research & Strategy, Visual Communication, and Health & Wellness:

Together, these ID projects take on some of the most complex challenges of modern life: racism, recidivism, mental health, and climate change. At ID, we find novel approaches to these types of pressing issues and transform the systems that underpin them—from cities, education, and finance to food, healthcare, and technology.

“Each of these projects was made possible by a student team in partnership with an external organization,” ID Interim Dean Anijo Matthew says. “At ID, we believe such collaboration is key to creating long-term value.”

Anti-Racist Pop-Ups was the student winner in the Design for Social Impact category. This project was led by ID Assistant Professor of Practice Chris Rudd, and involved a set of activities that enabled participants to identify racism, imagine equitable futures, and co-design anti-racist infrastructures where they can be protagonists of change. Students and faculty created a new framework and playbook for engaging participants, who came away from the engagement feeling that a future where racism no longer exists is indeed possible—and that we all, together, are the ones who can build it. The team plans to expand the project in the coming months. Rudd is also the founder and CEO of ChiByDesign, which was honored twice in the Research & Strategy category.

In Redesigning Contextually Appropriate Education Materials for Incarcerated Women, Associate Teaching Professor Tomoko Ichikawa partnered with WIND, Women Initiating New Directions, to solve for the many challenges of teaching in jails and re-entry centers during a pandemic. Students in Tomoko's Communication Design course reimagined carceral education at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) and Grace House, a residential re-entry program. ID's work enabled WIND to relaunch classes and deepen learning even during the pandemic. Beyond the pandemic, WIND seeks to bring the program to other parts of Illinois and potentially other states.

Through Microgrid as a Civic Infrastructure, Charles L. Owen Professor of Design Carlos Teixeira and students in his Sustainable Solutions Workshop responded to a problem articulated by ID's 2021 Lucas J. Daniel speaker, Gretchen Bakke, a month ahead of the 2021 Texas power crisis: our crumbling grid. Students used design to envision a more sustainable energy infrastructure: microgrids. The approach would move our society to a distributed system of production and consumption. This new energy paradigm would benefit not only the environment, but also the people connected to the grid as we pursue a healthier relationship with energy.

With You Need to See It to Understand It, Associate Teaching Professor Tomoko Ichikawa and students partnered with Chicago nonprofit SocialWorks to create a suite of visualizations that make information about mental health more accessible to the layperson. The visualizations bridge information gaps and connect Chicagoans with mental health services in myriad ways, including by sharing common warning signs of six common mental health issues, mapping locations and features of certain mental health services in Chicago, and educating viewers on the broader context of mental health issues in the city. 

In A New Model for Hybrid Life, ID students partnered with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on a summer 2021 MasterChallenge. The Harvard Chan School challenged ID students to understand how people were coping with COVID-19 and explore ways to make "a less toxic world." ORION, a system that aims to enhance work-life balance and bring a new outlook to hybrid living, was the result of this challenge. 

This Core77 recognition comes on the heels of similar recognition from Fast Company's 2022 World-Changing Ideas awards and a tradition of award-winning work at ID. Earlier this year, ID students won the Rotman Design Challenge. Last year, Core77 recognized ID's student project, Envisioning Sustainable Food Sourcing Solutions, and Fast Company's Innovation by Design Awards recognized three student projects.

These five honored projects have great potential. You can: help us scale these efforts or start another award-winning project with us, and vote for ID to win Core77's Community Choice Prize. 

Photo: Institute of Design faculty member Chris Rudd [center] is pictured at one of the anti-racist pop-ups (provided)