There was a need within the design team to have more creative outlets or just have more moments to unplug. There was an existing program called ”Creative Calisthenics” that met once a month to work through simple creative exercises. For example, there would be an assortment of paper, magazines, paint, glue, scissors, fabric, you name it. Then there was a topic, ”happiness.”
Attendance was sporadic, usually a handful of people, sometimes more, sometimes less. I attended a session and was immediately inspired and saw an opportunity. Designers on the lines of business teams designed for a specific feature or portion of a feature. They would work for months in research and user testing and less time on the actual craft. I offered to teach a few classes that would be a bit more structured and concentrate on a specific core element of design.
I put together some posters, booked some rooms and ordered supplies. We started with an overview of typography. Over the next several months, we rebranded to Design Making started pulling together ambassadors across the organization that would facilitate and coordinate workshops in their respective locations. We brought in guest speakers and had off sites.
The program took off. Team members in San Francisco took a wheel throwing class. Richmond screen printed. Teaching a class became development goals for some. Stepping outside of their comfort zones, it gave attendees an opportunity to make something different with their hands. We found it also inspired people to create more in their personal life.
Eventually the design leadership designated as an “area of practice” and provided every office location a budget to work with. Design Making was an addition to designer onboarding. We used it as a way for everyone to get to know each other, break the ice.