Youth Design Studio: Creating for Communities in Cape Town, South Africa

For the duration of 2014, Cape Town, South Africa will hold the title of World Design Capital. To demonstrate the city's dedication to beautiful, useful and community-changing design, Cape Town will be showcasing a variety of projects, including ours! Youth Design Studio will be a collaboration between Imagine More and one of our most esteemed colleagues, a researcher and PhD candidate at Stockholm University.

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During 2014, Imagine More will be working on Youth Design Studio, a featured project in Cape Town's World Design Capital showcase (for more on the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014, see their official website at

When we found out that Cape Town was awarded the World Design Capital title for 2014, we knew we wanted to be a part of it! However, as we learned more about World Design Capital and thought about possible design projects, we noticed that "design" often feels closed off to non-professionals. We wanted to help people realize that anyone can be a designer; and more than anything, we wanted to make sure that young people would have a voice and presence in the event.

community garden projectIn this spirit, we created Youth Design Studio. Youth Design Studio is a class for high school learners - but it's not like any class you've ever taken!
In the first half of the course, students will learn principles of design; sustainability; social research; and project creation and idea testing. In the second half, they will put these skills to use: armed with the research they've done, learners will choose and create a project that will benefit their whole community. This project could be any number of things: for example, a community garden or other public space; an art piece; or even a performance or one-time event. It's up to the students and their community to decide!

The class will also involve a mentorship component. On many class days, local professionals in various fields will come to advise students, work with them, and share about themselves and their jobs.

Overall, we have three objectives in working on Youth Design Studio:

  • To empower students and teach them useful skills;
  • To offer students an opportunity to work with and learn from a diverse group of people that they probably wouldn't meet otherwise;
  • To assist students in creating a project that will have lasting benefit for their community.

community playground projectAlthough most of this project will be implemented in Cape Town, South Africa, we are working hard to bring the benefits back to our community in San Diego. Ideally, we'd love to teach the class in San Diego as well - creating an opportunity for cross-cultural, cross-continental sharing between participating students!

All through the project, any materials and presentations we create will be freely available here on our website. The more people use and learn from Youth Design Studio, the better! So keep in touch, check in for updates, and feel free to email us at with any questions, suggestions or feedback!

Social Research: Presentation Materials

If you attended the Social Research presentation we gave to Platform 6 (another World Design Capital 2014 project!) in February and would like to review it, or if you would like to give a presentation on social research yourself, you can download the original right here! The notes accompany the material, and can also serve as a guide if you'd like to give the presentation on your own. Enjoy!

Social Research Methods (MS PowerPoint):
Imagine More download YDS PowerPoint
Presentation Notes (Adobe PDF):
Imagine More download PDF Notes

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If you'd like to read more, offer suggestions, get involved, or just follow this project as it develops, please head over to the Imagine More Blog!