Be the SHiFT

“It was one of the best speaking experiences ever—literally, under a star filled sky, in front of a sparkling fire. No power points, no visual cues—just primal, authentic storytelling. It was out of this world!” says Jeevak Badve, IDSA, vice president, strategic growth, Sundberg-Ferar—of his first visit to SHiFT Design Camp in Tuscumbia, AL.

Badve asked the audience at the fourth annual event, “What's your Element?” About 100 college students and 50 design and education professionals from across the county and around the world—including countries such as Austria, China, Kenya, Mexico, Spain and United Kingdom—met at the Seven Springs Lodge in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in summer 2016.

Director and Co-founder Owen Foster, IDSA, and Director and Co-founder John McCabe, IDSA, and Elyse Larouere, IDSA, project manager for SHiFT and design manager at Coca Cola, led the camp. “We’re inspiring the next generation of designers to be fearless, courageous and self-confident to forge new paths that will allow the creation of greatness,” says Foster.

 “SHiFT is about experiences that students and professionals work together to mentor, educate, inspire and lead one another to learn about and explore interesting regionally-inspired topics,” says McCabe.

They encouraged team dynamics; leadership; learning; the positive effects of failure; how to find one’s own path in life; and how NOT to follow the pack. Both credited “an amazing group of volunteers” with making year-round events possible. The SHiFT staff includes other IDSA members: facilitator Ben Bush, IDSA, industrial design professor at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD); liaison Tom Gattis, IDSA, dean of Columbus College of Art and Design; facilitator Phil Caridi, IDSA, of Phil Caridi Design; facilitator John Gray Parker, IDSA, of Maga Design.

This year’s event focused on designing for the spectrum of humanity. “Think of it for those that have fewer than the five senses, with less-than-normal cognitive abilities and those who have unique physical differences,” said organizers. “Young professionals were exposed to the differences amongst our population; how to have empathy; and learned how to design experiences for these interesting opportunities.” Participants escaped the routine and engaged with the natural world.  Each day featured lectures and workshops, design challenges and community-led discussions. 

This year’s major industry sponsors included the Eastman Innovation Lab (EIL). "SHiFT Design Camp is creating a new model of education," says Farrell Calabrese, IDSA, EIL creative manager. "Established on the notion that education is not founded in a book—SHiFT gets people to unplug and immerse themselves in a collaborative learning environment based on experiences."

Calabrese says the EIL is a big supporter of design education. "Our mission is to help students understand why materials matter. Too often, today’s students are designing with a limited knowledge of the materials that their ideas will be manufactured with. The more goods that are created abroad, the larger the gap. The EIL sponsors the SHiFT Design Camp to promote a way of thinking about making; balancing data with experiences—leading one to push the boundaries of what’s possible."

Other speakers included Patricia Moore, PhD, FIDSA, Moore Design; Lauren Purkhiser, Lextant; Kiely Sweatt, Design Gym; Alysha Naples, Magic Leap; Bruce Claxton, SCAD; Regina Rowland, European Universities; Ernest Lane, Husqvarna; Amy Sledge, Huntsville City Schools; Hollie Bush and Will Matthews, Radley College, UK; and Eric Stevens, General Electric.