“Design can be pivotal to social, economic, and environmental impact.”
COVER STORY: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION
Deniz Dönmez is a design strategist at Atölye, a strategic design studio that focuses on building and engaging communities to collaborate on impact-oriented projects.
How did you get involved in your line of work?
I got interested in this area after studying strategic design at the graduate level and learning more about how design can be pivotal to social, economic, and environmental impact. My work at Atölye is a natural extension. Some of the projects I have done here include imece, a social innovation platform; Toyi, a social enterprise that designs toys that enable free play; and many others that tackle different sorts of “wicked” questions that we seek answers for through strategy, sensemaking, co-design and community building.
What was RC’s contribution to your career?
I was at RC when the CIP initiative first started with Jennifer Sertel, and that was an early career influence. Studying at RC has helped me make better sense of the world, being able to see patterns at the macro-level, while also studying details at the micro. RC’s system that allowed us, students, to flex the curriculum according to our interests and curiosities played a great role in my development as a so-called “T-shaped” strategist who can bring critical thinking across design disciplines.
What is your advice to RC students who are interested in your field?
Take a gap year before jumping on to college; volunteer, get an internship, take online courses, or just travel to open your horizons to what’s beyond academics. We usually get caught up in trying to achieve, but taking the initiative to stop and figure out what interests you early in life is quite crucial to how the rest of your journey unfolds.
Published February 2022