ReDesign.School Roundtable Discussion: San Francisco / Hosted by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts / 04.11.18

On March 2nd, The Design School kicked off our national ReDesign.School roundtable tour with our first stop: San Francisco. We were fortunate to be hosted by the wonderful Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Our group included designers of all types working for tech companies, as well as academia and non-profit enterprises. Below is a condensed script of our interactive discussion.


In Attendance

Marc Arnold– Studio-Desk On-Demand
President + Co-Founder

Dennis Bartolomeo– Apple
Director- Retail Real Estate and Development
Alumnus- 2005

Prasad Boradkar– Google ATAP
Design Lead
Professor, Industrial Design- The Design School at ASU

John Cary– TED
TED Prize Strategist

Eric Cesal– Curry Stone Foundation
Special Projects Director

Deborah Cullinan– Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Llisa Demetrios– Eames Collection

Krista Donaldson– D-Rev

Ricardo Gomes– San Francisco State University
Professor, Design Center for Global Needs

Mari Hulick– San Francisco State University
Director, School of Design

Emily Pilloton– Project H Design
Founder + Executive Director

Lucía Sanromán– Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Visual Arts Director

Altay Sendil– Pinterest
Qualitative User Experience Research Manager
Alumnus- 2004

Carlos Terminel– Google ATAP
Industrial Designer

After introductions, attendees participated in a warm-up exercise, writing down their top answers to the question, “Where is design going?” on a sticky note and post to the board.

These are the answers our group came up with for Where is Design Going:


Krista Donaldson

  • Democratizing design
  • Going global
  • Design as a broad problem solving orientation/adaptation

Emily Pilloton

  • Decentralized
  • Form of activism- as a response against things that are unjust

Deborah Cullinan

  • Flexible- fewer boundaries
  • Purpose driven

Carlos Terminel

  • Designers have a great responsibility to change social equity
  • Designers need to know more about the world and other niches
  • Designers moving from gatekeepers to bellhops- this is not a good thing

Eric Cesal

  • Designers negotiating the market vs. social
  • Unchecked AI and commoditization
  • World needs designers more now than ever, problems are becoming more subtle and diffuse; designers can help

Mari Hulick

  • Human/computer interaction- humans need to stay in charge, bring as much into curriculums about AI/robotics so that they can stay on top
  • Interdisciplinarity/collaboration- amongst designers, communities, social leaders
  • Strategic thinking- promoting the unique way of thinking that designers have

Marc Arnold

  • Everything is and needs to be designed- universality of design
  • Dispersion/expansion
  • Design must resist complexity; design needs to bring/impose clarity/order on this complexity

Dennis Bartolomeo

  • Global- as the world gets more connected, students need to have opportunities for these experiences
  • Designers need to understand how to interact with the corporate world
  • Social impact- designers have a large impact on culture/society; we should continue to be leaders

Altay Sendil


  • Agency- objects, policies, spaces, language
  • Dynamic- tools, methods, processes need to be dynamic in design and education
  • Expansion of language

Prasad Boradkar

  • Designers have larger role in creating positive social impact
  • Design playing larger role in education
  • Design exporting its processes beyond the typical space

Llisa Demetrios

  • Design becoming a tool for business
  • Designers could solve the problems of today, but must become comfortable with change

Ricardo Gomes

  • We have to know where we’re coming from to determine where we’re going. We must become more inclusive. Mutual ownership; “Co-Designing”. Being design ambassadors
  • Collaboration empowerment of the disenfranchised
  • How do we create a design world more focused on service. Beyond the object

 John Cary

  • From design or designer-centered to user-centered
  • From achievement to progress; what are the skills doing to bring about actual social change

How can design education be more relevant?





  • We need to redesign print media
  • How does media get to us? Provide deep specializations that are relevant
  • Get away from companies just hiring 1-2 designers
  • You can solve the problem of tomorrow



  • Get out of the silo
  • Create universities that are immersed and opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • Where are the connections? This provides value and empathy for students
  • Was the first African American to graduate in industrial design in his class in the 80’s?His motivation: powering the masses. He wasn’t motivated by products, but by influence. Urban art was only beneficial to those who see it
  • How is design marketed? How do we connect to empowerment and progress? People in lower income brackets are the biggest consumer and receive instant gratification
  • How can design be perceived to influence the future? What is the infastructure? What is its relevance to society?



  • Open the door and provide a system to disperse design



  • The future of design provides opportunities for pragmatic execution. 3-5 years of experience seems standard, and not realistic right of college
  • Give students more chances to DO
  • Focus on storytelling – How do you tell a sexy / great story in a compelling way that can sell an ide



  • Connect projects with skillsets
  • Rethink the entire process
  • School is part of the real world – It’s practicing and training, but it’s not “real” when you get into a firm



  • (Design) must deconstruct the isolation of design education, like a desert island – tribal houses of the studio; environments that are out of touch



  • What is relevancy?
  • Instead of projects being an entire semester, what does it look like practically? Create a variety of projects that translate to the working world; 2 weeks – no stopping



  • Use the example of med school: Projects that have real consequence
  • What are the requirements? Have a true connection outside of design, that balance your experience in a relevant way.
  • Be willing to be political
  • Respond to high achieving students



  • Who is this relevant for?
  • Who is the audience? Include a range: Parents, Students, Start ups, NGOs, etc.
  • Who are we designing for?
  • Teaching design in diverse areas with a contrast of projects



  • Be the first to stake a claim to design for the public good
  • How is it relevant to the public?
  • Bring in the social sector more and include access
  • What are design schools for? Currently, they focused on accreditation and feels like a vanilla experience
  • Design is everything to everyone



  • Make sure relevancy translates in the field
  • Go beyond internships and build a business plan
  • Education is the BEGINNING of your career


What are the skillsets of the future we should be teaching now?





  1. Rigor: high standards and attention to detail. This teaches follow-through in real world projects
  2. Communication skills- writing, public speaking; Toastmasters, storytelling, etc.

    • Examples:
    • Code-switching- not only communicating, but telling stories to different audiences, with different contexts
    • Understanding the “user”
    • Storytelling in sales
    • Teaching non-designers design language- sometimes they can communicate more effectively to different populations
  3. More attention paid to research
  4. Don’t quash curiosity. Foster and nurture curiosity. Can you teach curiosity?
  5. Empathy- collaboration and discovery- sometimes curiosity is not available to all populations. African-American men in urban environments are often punished for curiosity; it can be life-threatening
  6. Meeting students where they are and guiding them



  1. Economy of design- how do you make design sustainable?
  2. Importance of delivering creative toolbox and how that works in the real world
  3. Old view of design was “market-driven”, how does that shift to include those who are shut out from large portions of the market. Social benefits.
  4. Who are the stakeholders? How do you talk to them? Help them feel included in the process.
  5. Technology- some tools can be self taught- there’s more buy-in if you learn it on your own- Autocad, other tools; but should have opportunities for those who don’t have access to tools- support for them.
  6. Teaching students to collaborate, especially to learn empathy and understanding of social dynamics, equity, inclusion etc.
  7. “Don’t Be An Asshole 101”
  8. University should guide students to what excites them



  1. Business-savvy. Revenue and impact modeling skills
  2. Communication skills
  3. Financing
  4. Sustainable development skills
  5. Nimbleness and adaptability
  6. Change management
  7. Science around creativity
  8. Categorizing skills- social, technical,
  9. Value in “wild” minors, double-majors
  10. Look at other lists of skills identified by other entities: World Economic Forum and National Endowment for the Arts


How do we prepare students for transdisciplinary work?




  1. Breaking down silos
  2. Dual degrees, double majors, etc.
  3. When are the silos appropriate?
  4. Interdisciplinary umbrella term
  5. Multidisciplinary team
  6. Transdisciplinary team- the output of one affects the output of another



  1. Exposure to other disciplines
  2. Required, incentivized project-based learning opportunities
  3. Preparing students to pursue other ideas, bringing other disciplines into the design school (ie Med students doing a fellowship)
  4. Innovation Space was a great opportunity to solve a lot of the siloed experiences in design school (Carlos)
  5. Community service learning- collaborative learning experiences
  6. Skills to reduce friction between the design disciplines
  7. Space should be created for students to venture outside of the studio; right now curriculum and accreditation are a hindrance to this



    • How do we incentivize faculty to be transdisciplinary
    • Physical studio space outside of the design school
    • Students submitting proposal to teach a class- eg. “Intro to Architecture for “Astronauts” etc.
    • Starting focused and ending up more broad



Final thoughts:



RICARDODiversity is an ambitions and universal effort

    • Elementary schools
    • Workplace
    • Actual community members
    • What else can we do in design?
    • Define what the design world is and how it can evolve


CARLOS: We can’t lose the root of design and “the craft”

    • Define the difference between fine art focus vs. bachelors of science approach
    • Develop amazing portfolio


JOHN: Change the order of the questions (tough first!)

    • Who is not in the room?
    • What is designed in Arizona?


MARI: How do you build and maintain rigor?


EMILY: What is the thing that you can claim at ASU / The Design School?

    • “We are the school that does ________
    • Do a branding exercise and find out what is your amazing differentiator


LLISA: Don’t forget – this can be fun!



ReDesign.School Roundtable Discussion: San Francisco

Hosted by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

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