Redesign high school? Here’s an award that welcomes innovation

[Tom Biederbeck] What high school student doesn’t have ideas about how to make school better? Putting those ideas into a positive context is School: By Design, a new award from Design Ignites Change and Designers Accord that asks high school students — with their college and professional design mentors — to “redesign your school.” In support, the Mohawk Feedback Loop Notebook project launches today on Felt & Wire Shop with a spectacular array of unique letterpress notebooks.

All proceeds from sales of the Feedback Loop notebooks — created by 25 of the nation’s leading letterpress printers — go to this latest initiative from Design Ignites Change, a collaboration between Adobe Foundation and Worldstudio that engages high school and college students in design and architecture projects to address social issues.

School: By Design encourages high school students to view their school as an ecosystem, and challenges them to reimagine a more sustainable school. The initiative, say organizers, will “connect students to a subject they know well, and one in which they are likely to have strong opinions.” One can only imagine.

The reward? A $10,000 grant to the school with the most innovative project to implement improvements. How to ensure the student ideas are channeled in positive directions? Mentoring — the key ingredient in all Design Ignites change projects, according to Worldstudio’s Andréa Pellegrino and Mark Randall.


“One of the things we always encounter in the design community is the desire to be a mentor,” Randall says. “A lot of times designers or schools and design studios don’t have a clue as how to go about it. They say, ‘I would really love to mentor kids but I don’t know what to do. Where do I find the kid? If I find the kid, then what do I do?’ They have the desire, but they don’t have the tools.

“We decided to create completely self-guided mentoring programs. We develop and disseminate the tools so anybody who’s interested in mentoring a young person can do it. You don’t have to have experience.”

[Create Don’t Hate was an earlier campaign enlisting high school students and mentors to design billboards with messages of tolerance.]

School: By Design is actively seeking and signing up mentoring schools and organizations, including an AIA chapter in Phoenix, Ariz., working with the Scottsdale Unified School District. (The initiative is open to a range of creative disciplines — architecture, industrial design, graphic design, interior design, environmental graphics and interactive design. Application deadline is Dec. 21, 2010. Application here.)


The idea for the Feedback Loop Notebook project to be a fundraising tool for the award, Pellegrino says, came from Mohawk VP Laura Shore. “Laura came to us looking for a connection point. This is what Worldstudio does — we find the connection point between our supporters and the programming we’re passionate about.” The launch of Mohawk’s new Loop line of sustainable papers provided the perfect way to connect, Pellegrino says. “Laura saw the notebook project as a good way of bringing the letterpress community into the picture.”

By devoting all proceeds from the Feedback Loop Notebook project, Mohawk joins Worldstudio and other Design Ignites Change supporters like the Adobe Foundation in saluting School: By Design.

The editor says: For artists and writers, the notebook is the ultimate blank slate — a place for personal sketches, thoughts and ideas to reside for later retrieval. Vanilla ice cream’s good, and so’s a regulation black Moleskine. But since what goes in your notebook is so unique and personal, why shouldn’t your notebook be as original as the art you put in it? Each Feedback Loop letterpress artist produced just 50 special-edition notebooks. Shop early — may we suggest today? We expect they will sell out quickly.

Mark Randall and Andréa Pellegrino are principals of Worldstudio, a marketing and design firm that believes corporations hold the power to make lasting social and environmental change. Both are active in AIGA. Pellegrino has taught at SVA and gives workshops on funding social change initiatives. Randall has taught at Parson’s School of Design and Fordham University in NYC and at Hartford University. (And visit Felt & Wire again this Friday, September 10, for a special Design Destination from Mark Randall that, we promise, will surprise you.)


Andréa Pellegrino’s photo by Joan Bodensteiner; Mark Randall’s photo by Josh Gosfield.

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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by A Kuhntributor on 09.8.10 at 2:42 pm

    i luv THIS PROJECT, even though I can’t figure out how to make the smile over the u, like on the gorgeous cover of the Visual Chemist’s notebook, which I just bought, along with Dock 2’s and Matter’s. — Just call me Pay Palyson!

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