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Scout looks to grow design community

Scout, the name of Northeastern’s student-run design studio, is not an acronym but rather the result of a thesaurus.com search for words similar to “messenger.”

When the students were deciding what to call their new endeavor, they knew they wanted a name that encompassed both their mission to deliver clients’ brands to the masses and embodied their goal to explore the boundaries of design and innovation.

“When you think of a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you think of someone who is young, curious, and wants to explore a lot of different things,” explained Laura Marelic, AMD’15, Scout’s executive director. “And ‘scout’ just fit the bill for all those characteristics.”

Launched in September 2013, Scout will work on design projects within the Northeastern community. The group’s projects will also focus on promoting design thinking—a design process characterized by critique, testing, iteration, and implementation—by creating opportunities for the university community to participate in that creative process.

“We’ve had this notion of an open critique for a long time,” Marelic explained. “It’s using our work as a vehicle for talking about design thinking and process by bringing the campus into the conversation as well. Input from other disciplines strengthens our work.”

The group’s leaders expect about 20 members to work in the studio this fall. Though it’s open to any student interested in design, many of the current members are in the Art + Design program and serve as project leaders and designers or help plan and promote design-focused events.

The group’s first major project took place this spring, when it designed an exhibit for Our Marathon, a crowdsourced archive of pictures, videos, stories, and social media related to the Boston Marathon bombings and developed by Northeastern’s NULab for Maps, Texts, and Networks. The exhibit, which was presented in International Village, marked the one-year anniversary of the bombings.

In the coming months Scout will launch a redesign of the website for IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator; a campaign for a fall semester fashion show; and branding for the School of Journalism’s Media Innovation graduate program.

“I liked the idea very much,” said Nathan Felde, chair of the Department of Art + Design. “It really adds a whole new dynamic to the experiential learning opportunities at Northeastern. What is really important is allowing the students to gather as collaborators.”

With new digs on the third floor of Ryder Hall, Scout is ready to further integrate itself into the university community by hosting a variety events beginning this fall. These include speaker presentations and portfolio-building workshops, all of which will help strengthen Northeastern’s design community.

Studying design at Northeastern provides unique opportunities for students that might not be available at a traditional design school, Marelic explained, specifically noting the university’s emphasis on experiential education and cross discipline collaboration.

“It turns out everyone needs a designer, and we are lucky about that,” she said. “Here we have a business school, an engineering school, a computer science college, and we get the benefit of working with people who are actually going to use our designs. Having the chance to work with other disciplines is super valuable from a design perspective.”