Mumbai-born Priyanka Kodikal is a graphic designer currently based in Austin Texas. She has made it to the winners list on two OpenIDEO challenges: with her Voting Vans concept on our Voting Challenge and more recently with her Matching Entrepreneurs, Experts and Investors idea on our Web Start-up Challenge. Over the years Priyanka's focus has shifted from aesthetics to using design as an approach to make positive social impact, these days at non-profit TG where she helps students and families realise their higher education and career dreams. As a winner of our Web Start-up Challenge, she is also attending the Digital Agenda Assembly on invitation of the European Commission this week!
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
I came across OpenIDEO by a happy accident. I spent some time on the site and eventually caught myself lurking everyday. What really got me excited was the global participation and varied perspectives on making a difference through design. This was right up my alley. Of course, I signed up and the very first concept I (hesitantly) submitted was one for the Maternal Health Challenge.
And how's the ride been so far?
Just magical! When I posted my early concepts, I felt a bit intimidated. I perceived each challenge as a competition. I couldn’t be more wrong! I got so many constructive and encouraging comments that I was really inspired to think more freely and creatively. And before I knew it, I was hooked. For me, the best part about every challenge has been the collaboration. The constant community dialogue has really helped enhance and advance my ideas. Participating in the OpenIDEO challenges has really helped change the way I perceive problems and think about solutions.
How has your work experience shaped your communication design skills and approach to generating ideas?
What I have learned most from my experience in the past few years is that good looking design does not always equal good design. To be able to communicate through design, my listening skills must be sharper than my technical skills. The more I listen to and understand my audience, the better I design for them. I guess empathy is the word I’m looking for. I believe it is the single most important driver for effective design.
Have you got any projects for social good you've worked on?
My first social good project was a campaign to help reduce domestic violence in New Zealand. This campaign was designed for Maori inmates who engaged in domestic violence toward their spouse and children. We designed a several posters that carried the “Be a Good Father” and “Care for Your Family” messages. The posters were photo heavy with minimum text, and our models? – the inmates themselves with their families! The posters were all over the prisons and the message resonated with the inmates and had a positive impact on the Maori community.
A recent project I have worked on as one of the designers is Financial Literacy Education for High School and College Students. As a part of TG's outreach program, we've designed a series of e-learning modules to help high school students better understand money management in college. These are short, graphic heavy modules which use analogies and stories to educate students about money management. Each module is accompanied by a workbook and a game activity. This program is offered at no cost and is becoming increasingly popular among school districts and colleges around the country.
What are your future plans around design + social impact?
I find myself at the crossroads of business and design where I am starting to learn more about leadership, strategy and design-based innovation. I want to keep learning and designing for social impact using the human-centered approach. Yes, I am a big fan of the HCD Toolkit!
I look forward to continue contributing to more challenges on OpenIDEO. It is such an amazing platform to exchange ideas and collaborate across disciplines. Where else can you collaborate with like-minded people from across the globe? I am so elated to be a part of such an awesome community!
Cheers Priyanka. We hope to enjoy more of your collaborative action in future!