After placing second in the Husky Startup Challenge and joining IDEA, Katie Wilhoit connected with Scout, Northeastern’s student-led design studio. As the co-founder of Unsize, a yet-to-be-launched startup aimed at taking the guesswork out of online clothes shopping, she needed help communicating her vision to potential shoppers and retail partners alike. “I see a future where sizing labels and gender boxes don’t exist,” said Wilhoit, SSH’18, “and I reached out to Scout hoping the group could help me promote that message.”
The studio delivered. During the fall 2017 semester, a five-person team designed a website for Unsize, created character illustrations, and developed a web app that will enable users to upload their body measurements with a Bluetooth device and shop online. “What we gave Unsize was a robust brand that works across digital, web, and video platforms,” said Adam Markon, CIS/DMSB’18, the project leader. At the end of the three-month collaboration, Markon and his team presented Wilhoit and her co-founder with a 21-page brand book. “Team Unsize sat in silence for three or four minutes in awe over the book,” he recalled. “That’s when we knew we had nailed it.”
Scout is a primary player in Mosaic, Northeastern’s alliance of student-led organizations that support venture incubation at the university, and Unsize is just one example of the studio’s ever-expanding design portfolio. Since its inception in 2013, Scout has created apps, logos, brand guidelines, product packaging, and high-fidelity websites for more than 30 clients in industries ranging from food and sports to health and education. Most clients—from Knightly, the campus safety app, to Eat Your Coffee, the caffeinated snack company—have been sourced directly from IDEA. Others, like Everyday Boston, a grassroots organization that harnesses the power of storytelling to unite the city’s diverse residents, come from the community.
“Our work is out there in the real world and people are hearing about it,” said Molly O’Neil, AMD’18, Scout’s executive director. “We’re becoming a name through word of mouth.” At a recent campus event, one prospective Northeastern student told Brennan Caruthers, DMSB’18, Scout’s operations director, that he wanted to attend the university so he could work with the studio, which is housed in the College of Arts, Media, and Design. “He stumbled upon Scout’s Instagram account and dove into what we do,” said Caruthers, who manages the studio’s $100,000 budget. “Now,” he quipped, “he has a Scout sticker and is following my personal Instagram.”
After five years of success, Scout will hold its first annual design conference on Saturday in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex. The conference—held during Boston Design Week and dubbed “Interventions!”—will provide a “space for creatives to consider the consequences of design interventions and examine the intentions of their work.” It will feature speakers from Airbnb, Netflix, and Lyft. Tickets—$50 for students, $200 for the public—will reportedly include “the best bag of swag you will ever receive.” Margarita Barrios-Ponce, associate teaching professor of art + design and Scout’s faculty advisor, said the conference “puts Northeastern on the map in terms of being a design thinking hub.” For her, Interventions! underscores Scout’s growth over the past five years. “It’s mind-blowing that a group of students can accomplish so much while capturing what needs to be transferred from year to year so that the organization can continue to develop ideas that emerge organically.”
Read the entire story at News@Northeastern.
Article by Jason Kornwitz
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University