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How Might Inner-City Neighborhoods Be Made Better For Everyone?

Michelle Obama was the keynote speaker at AIA National Convention (April 2017) asking designers to fix inner-city neighborhoods.

Photo of James McBennett
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Why do you want to be OpenIDEO's Visual and User Experience Designer?

While at OMA who use blue foam like IDEO use post-its, I learned the value of prototyping many ideas quickly. I also learned about IDEO and resonated with their focus on human-centered design that I had unknowingly applied in previous student projects. I am currently studying again taking a micro-masters in UX from (U.Mich) and seeking my first UX experience. I am very familiar with OpenIDEO (4500+pts) and wrote a long UX bug list in 2011 to the secret yammer group formed by power users.

How many years of experience do you have?

  • Less than 3 years of experience

How did you hear about this challenge?


What did you learn when developing the deliverables in response to the design brief?

I analyzed previous OpenIDEO challenges and discovered that this is #50! Health is the most popular topic followed by challenges on food, low-income, and youth. My favorite topic is cities that affect so many other things but has only appeared three times. I researched the IDEO Pinterest board that has a collection of posters and the brand guidelines before making this poster.

The First Lady reminded participants attending the American Insitute of Architects National Convention that her husband Barrack Obama wanted to be an architect. "Barack is an artist, though he tries to downplay it. He's the kind of guy who says, 'I don't care what the living room looks like,' and then has a thousand questions and opinions about everything. He's someone with ideas, he's someone who thinks big."

Michelle Obama in previous years has worked on many issues related to design and cities and chose a talk on design as her first post-white house speech. I believe the Obama Foundation would be a great potential collaborator and sponsor of an OpenIDEO challenge.

My poster design takes figures from previous OpenIDEO graphics placing them in a city with their emotions displayed on their chests representing the OpenIDEO/IDEO ethos of getting out of the building and human-centered design discovering what citizens truly want.

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