The Story of Design Disco
Design Disco (short for “discovery”) is a design education nonprofit with the vision that young students from all backgrounds should have equal access to discover their creative potential — not just those who can afford it.
Design Disco encourages high school students across the Czech Republic and Europe to explore design concepts through creative exercises, lectures, workshops and study trips, and in doing so exposes students to the role of design in the world around them.
THE STORY OF DESIGN DISCO
Design Disco was founded by ARCHIP graduates Jason Nam and Ben James, and is run by young architects as well as architecture and design students. Jason and Ben came up with the idea of design workshops for high school kids during their studies at ARCHIP. It was based on the experience Jason had with the Harvard Summer School of Design, an experience which made him realise that he wants to pursue a career in this field. Design Disco started as an idea by these two students and began to develop swiftly after unexpected interest from other students at ARCHIP and with the support of ARCHIP's staff, namely our rector Regina Loukotova, vice-rector Klara Dolezelova and Operations Manager Olga Pexidrova. Since then it has grown and even expanded internationally, but it still continues to provide an opportunity for ARCHIP students to reach out to the community, gain real-world experience and be an influential part of a startup nonprofit.
the original Design Disco crew
FEW WORDS FROM KASIMIR (OUTREACH MANAGER) ABOUT WHY HE JOINED DESIGN DESICO
When I graduated from High School last year, I was looking for an architecture school with motivated students from all over the world. I came from a small school focused on the arts and found myself right at home with the creative students at Archip.
One of the exciting things I am now doing is working in Design Disco, a student-run organization that teaches high school students about design. It was started two years ago by Jason Nam and Ben James, two Archip students. As Jason tells the story:
“When I was in high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew that I had to or rather should go to college, but I did not know what I wanted to study. That’s when I applied to Project Link, a program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. And through this program I was exposed to the world of Architecture and Design. I knew that those majors existed, but I didn’t know what it was like to study them. So that’s why I started Design Disco. I’m sitting here today because of the program very much like Design Disco, it helped me to discover my inner passion and my career path.”
The friends I met through Design Disco are inspiring and fun people to work with. We all come from different backgrounds which adds depth to our creative process. I also really enjoy working with the students. Teaching them about design, a topic that I am passionate about. As an architecture student, I did not realize how much this teaching work would help my school performance. Among others, having to speak about design and engage with students on design tasks has helped me improve my confidence in public speaking and my clarity during presentations.
Design Disco offers student outreach sessions, going to high schools in Prague to speak about design and engage in fun design challenges. We also host workshops for students to dive more deeply into the field of design, you can learn more about them here.
For me, Design Disco is all about fun. Ever since I first heard the name, it had an upbeat chill kind of feel to me.
“We know famous architects, but you can ask my mom to name one famous architect, she would struggle. Keeping that in mind we want to use our online platform for Design Disco to make this topic more open and stop making it this exclusive, elite and intimidating thing. The attitude should be ‘Yo, check it out. You could be a designer too one day”
Because really, we are all designers. From the clothing we choose to wear to the photos we put on social media. We design our everyday expression. Hopefully we can help students become aware of that and inspire them to engage with the world around them through design.
“Ultimately we want students to feel creative. We want them to feel empowered. Knowing that they don’t have to follow strict guidelines, they can challenge the norm and think outside the box.”
I am excited about the future of Design Disco, and what opportunities it may open up for those we teach, as well as the awesome team I am apart of.