Winterhouse Institute: Designing Social Responsibility

Winterhouse Institute: Designing Social Responsibility
Scott Ballum
  • 6 february 2009

Winterhouse is more than a design studio, their founders are more than educators, and their commentary has done more to develop critical commentary around the design industry than arguably any of their kin. And now, with more than a small nudge from the Rockefeller Foundation, they will be expected to do, well, even more.

Headed by Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel, Winterhouse is a small but mighty powerhouse in Falls Village, CT, that writes, produces and publishes work geared towards advancing the dialog around community, politics, and design. They are founding editors of Design Observer, the inspiration behind the Polling Place Project, and prolific graphic designers. As of January 2009, they are also the board members of The Winterhouse Institute, a two year project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation with a $1.5 million grant. The initial plans include developing “collective action and collaboration for social impact across the design industry – and encompassing a range of other institutions that work on the needs of poor or vulnerable people. The funding will be used to develop specific programs for social impact by the design community, to host a major conference at Aspen in 2009, to develop case studies with the Yale School of Management, and to create an editorial website to monitor progress in the zone of design and innovation around social issues.”

As social responsibility become a growing industry on to itself, it’s encouraging to see talented individuals granted the opportunity to lead the charge.


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