July 26, 2019 / FAR/Kids in Design

CannonDesign Partners with Baltimore Design School to Encourage Future Designers

group photo

Baltimore, MD (July 26, 2019) – CannonDesign’s Baltimore office opened its doors to students from the Baltimore Design School (BDS) for a new program aimed at providing a glimpse into a day in the life of a designer. Where prior programs have focused mainly on visiting and teaching in already familiar school environments, the first ever Designer for A Day brought students into a working design office to engage them in activities focused in the day-to-day work of CannonDesign.

The day began with a welcome and introduction to CannonDesign Baltimore, led by Mike Glaros, the Baltimore Office Practice Leader. Students reviewed the agenda for the day, went on a quick office tour, asked questions about the profession, and received a Designer for A Day lanyard to mimic actual CannonDesign business cards.

The day was filled with activities focused on giving students the experience of working with design professionals and showing how their current design school experiences are setting them up for future success in the design industry. The activities included:

  • The Impact of Design: CannonDesign design leaders spoke to the students about the process of design, and current projects on the boards. Students received sketchbooks and were tasked with sketching vignettes of the city of Baltimore from the office.
    (Led by Kent Muirhead and Ryan Pietrowski)
  • Working with other Disciplines: Showcasing the complex teams designers work with, and the means of communicating ideas across a large design firm, students had a conference call with a structural engineer in Buffalo, NY. After learning the collaborative nature of design, the students formed groups for a spaghetti tower competition.
    (Led by Ashley Roe, Christina LoConte, and John Roach)
  • Utilizing Digital Tools: Digital Practice leaders at CannonDesign shared how we use exciting computational tools in the design process to bring our projects to life – including a virtual reality demonstration of a current project.
    (Led by Adam Louie and Ricardo Orfila)
  • Using Color and Materials: Focused on an exercise of redesigning our current lobby space, students worked with interior designers on the planning process and selected finishes and furniture to create a finish board. Students had to present their final boards and design inspiration in mock client presentations.
    (Led by Erin Crowley and Briana Blowe)
  • Graphics and Marketing: With our marketing group, students learned how graphic design impacts our marketing work, and how project proposals and interviews are put together. Students saw how design professionals utilize the same computer programs and techniques that they are learning at BDS.
    (Led by Karen Martin, Caroline Smith, and Kellie Johnson)

The day concluded with a lunch Q+A session between students and mentors from CannonDesign. It involved meaningful conversations with students about planning their futures and the importance of goal setting and perseverance. Each future designer left with a personalized portfolio that was created behind-the-scenes throughout the day as they participated in design activities. It included their own sketches from earlier in the day, photos and lessons from each activity, their nametag from when they first arrived, and advice on pathways to becoming a future design professional.

The concept for the program was formulated in summer 2018 by Ryan Pietrowski, an emerging leader and designer in the Baltimore office, and member of the firm’s NEXT Council. Conceptualized as an outreach program that would build partnerships with local students interested in design pathways, the program’s mission quickly developed into expanding diversity—influencing and encouraging future careers for students that may not have considered a career in design.

Ryan and several members of the Designer-for-a-Day team met with groups including AIA Baltimore and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation to discuss goals of the program, seek out lessons learned from similar events, and to gain insightful contacts. Through these meetings, the Baltimore Design School was suggested as a perfect partner for the pilot program. A public middle and high school in Baltimore City, the Baltimore Design School’s mission states: “it all started with a desire to provide city students with an outlet for design.” The mission for the Designer-for-a-Day program matched perfectly with the mission of BDS.

“People don’t often realize that we are a grades 6-12 Baltimore City Public School. We experience the beautiful struggle of all that goes with an urban landscape and that’s part of why it’s all the more rewarding as we graduate each new class and come closer to fulfilling or mission of expanding the diversity of the design professions.”

– Christine (Chris) Frederick, a parent of a BDS graduate and Director of Communications and Engagement for the school.

Link to full FAR/Kids in Design Presentation

Release courtesy CannonDesign