Club places focus on design

Although it’s less than a year old, one of UVM’s newest clubs is sparking conversation.

At the most recent meeting for Design for America, balloons and ideas bounced off each other as members gathered in the Dana Medical Library.

DFA, an organization that originated at Northwestern University, uses the design process to tackle health, educational, economical and environmental issues.

There are over 30 different DFA chapters across the nation. First-year Tomoki Nomura and junior Frankie Lyon started the UVM chapter last fall. The club hosted an information session on campus Feb 9.

According to Lyon, the club creates “design innovations for social good.” At meetings, they teach students how to design products using design thinking, he explained.

Design thinking is the process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing designs for those in need. It bridges people from all different backgrounds to create change through a variety of different domains, instead of just being passive consumers of knowledge, Lyon said.

Nomura and Lyon were inspired to start DFA by professor Eugene Korsunskiy, who teaches Design Thinking at UVM and is the DFA advisor.

“Design thinking is totally counterintuitive to the way that we’ve been educated,” Korsunskiy said. Unlike today’s education methods, design thinking encourages trial and error to make the most progress, he said.

“There’s this classical dichotomy in our society that there are creatives and non-creatives,” Lyon said. “The fact of the matter is, everyone’s creative — we just have our creative confidence kicked out of us by society sometimes, and what we have to do is build that back up.”

First-year Ross Elkort has learned a lot from taking part in these creative experiences, he said.

“It’s definitely changed the way I work through problems now in my day-to-day life,” Elkort said. “Now I’ll see a problem and think about what resources I can use around me.”

DFA must be recognized by SGA to become official, but they will have programmed housing in the Living/Learning Center next year and hope to someday have their own space.

Nomura said there are big plans in store for DFA.

“We’re on the brink of a revolution here,” he said.