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Scout looks to grow design community

Scout, the name of Northeastern’s student-​​run design studio, is not an acronym but rather the result of a the​saurus​.com search for words sim­ilar to “messenger.”

When the stu­dents were deciding what to call their new endeavor, they knew they wanted a name that encom­passed both their mis­sion to deliver clients’ brands to the masses and embodied their goal to explore the bound­aries of design and innovation.

When you think of a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you think of someone who is young, curious, and wants to explore a lot of dif­ferent things,” explained Laura Marelic, AMD’15, Scout’s exec­u­tive director. “And ‘scout’ just fit the bill for all those characteristics.”

Launched in Sep­tember 2013, Scout will work on design projects within the North­eastern com­mu­nity. The group’s projects will also focus on pro­moting design thinking—a design process char­ac­ter­ized by cri­tique, testing, iter­a­tion, and implementation—by cre­ating oppor­tu­ni­ties for the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in that cre­ative process.

We’ve had this notion of an open cri­tique for a long time,” Marelic explained. “It’s using our work as a vehicle for talking about design thinking and process by bringing the campus into the con­ver­sa­tion as well. Input from other dis­ci­plines strengthens our work.”

The group’s leaders expect about 20 mem­bers to work in the studio this fall. Though it’s open to any stu­dent inter­ested in design, many of the cur­rent mem­bers are in the Art + Design pro­gram and serve as project leaders and designers or help plan and pro­mote design-​​focused events.

The group’s first major project took place this spring, when it designed an exhibit for Our Marathon, a crowd­sourced archive of pic­tures, videos, sto­ries, and social media related to the Boston Marathon bomb­ings and devel­oped by Northeastern’s NULab for Maps, Texts, and Net­works. The exhibit, which was pre­sented in Inter­na­tional Vil­lage, marked the one-​​year anniver­sary of the bombings.

In the coming months Scout will launch a redesign of the web­site forIDEA, Northeastern’s student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator; a cam­paign for a fall semester fashion show; and branding for the School of Journalism’s Media Inno­va­tion grad­uate program.

I liked the idea very much,” said Nathan Felde, chair of the Depart­ment of Art + Design. “It really adds a whole new dynamic to the expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties at North­eastern. What is really impor­tant is allowing the stu­dents to gather as collaborators.”

With new digs on the third floor of Ryder Hall, Scout is ready to fur­ther inte­grate itself into the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity by hosting a variety events begin­ning this fall. These include speaker pre­sen­ta­tions and portfolio-​​building work­shops, all of which will help strengthen Northeastern’s design community.

Studying design at North­eastern pro­vides unique oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents that might not be avail­able at a tra­di­tional design school, Marelic explained, specif­i­cally noting the university’s emphasis on expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion and cross dis­ci­pline collaboration.

It turns out everyone needs a designer, and we are lucky about that,” she said. “Here we have a busi­ness school, an engi­neering school, a com­puter sci­ence col­lege, and we get the ben­efit of working with people who are actu­ally going to use our designs. Having the chance to work with other dis­ci­plines is super valu­able from a design perspective.”

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