CC’s Design Week Encourages Students to Explore Creative Opportunities

This past week, Colorado College hosted its first Design Week, with the idea of promoting inclusivity into the school’s design scene and create dialogue regarding how different people approach their craft.

The inaugural week-long event featured several open houses showing off designer tools on campus, lunches hosted by entrepreneurs and curators, and an alumni panel featuring accomplished graduates. Design Week began Monday and concluded Friday with a “Lunch & Conversation” with Dylan Conway ‘13, Director of CC’s Innovation Program Dez Menendez, and CC’s own Integrative Design Group.

“We hope that Design Week will expand upon the creativity and experiences of CC’s own graduates to show students what is possible in the creative world beyond the classroom,” said senior Naomi van der Lande, who, along with senior Mikala Sterling and professor Kate Leanord, founded Design Week as part of their Graphic Research Lab extended format class.

The founders have worked since last fall to get Design Week off the ground. The goal is to find more ways to incorporate design thinking into CC’s educational environment. Van der Lande also credited Alan Ricks of MASS Design Group, Christine Gaspar, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy for inspiring their efforts.

Van der Lande and Sterling were particularly enthused by the alumni panel. The panel consisted of five recent graduates currently working in design-related fields, including Susan Hoff ’06, Logan Roberts ’10, Michelle Yates ’12, Julia Belamarich ’14, and Elana Foraker ’15. Among the panelists were business owners and designers working for larger firms.

“We thought it was important for current students to see how previous students were able to apply their CC educations to their successful careers,” said Sterling. “Seeing graduates have success in the design field is extremely inspiring and motivating.”

The alumni panel, which lasted roughly an hour, was focused mainly on graphic design, with every alumnus producing their own Design Week poster, or “takeaway.” They also gave brief talks detailing their trajectory into the art world while  giving advice for aspiring artists. In particular, “fake it ‘till you make it” was the prevailing sentiment among the young graduates. For example, Foraker admitted to taking certain liberties with her resume in order to land her current position at Minted, an online marketplace company.

Though the alumni panel garnered the most enthusiasm from Sterling and Van der Lande, the open houses were also a large portion of the week. Participants could explore the Arts and Crafts Studio, Photo Lab and Print Shop, Visual Resources Center, Costume Shop, and Taylor Hall’s Printing Press.

For locations like the Visual Resources Center (VRC), Design Week presented an opportunity to reach out to the CC community at large.

“One of my goals is to make tools and technology available and accessible so there are fewer barriers to creativity,” said Meghan Rubenstein, Curator of Visual Resources on campus. “This week I’ve enjoyed having conversations about what else we can do in the VRC to support design initiatives at CC.”

“The Design Week is an opportunity for us to help our community become aware of the way designed arts and crafts are a part of everyday life,” said Jeanne Steiner, Arts & Crafts Director and Fiber Instructor. “We hope to be a part of the opportunity to inform our community about the importance of design.”

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