Sub Rosa Does FastCo Innovation Festival

Sub Rosa Does FastCo Innovation Festival


What Should a D-School Teach? A Test Drive Sub Rosa's Experimental Princeton Design Program

Fast Company Innovation Festival unites a community of innovators with captivating keynotes, hands-on workshops, and intimate site visits to the most dynamic studios, startups, and centers of creativity – all hosted across more than 60 venues in New York City. Sub Rosa was honored to join the roster and host “What Should a D-School Teach? A Test Drive of Sub Rosa’s Experimental Princeton Design Program” at our And&And event space.

Sub Rosa’s CEO and Founder, Michael Ventura, alongside Natalie Sims and Arnava Asen – Design Director and Strategy Director, respectively – guided an interactive discussion giving attendees an inside look into the team’s proprietary design curriculum, which was piloted at Princeton’s Keller Center of Engineering in Spring 2015. The curriculum is rooted in Sub Rosa’s design methodology and was tailored to assist with a campus-wide initiative to invigorate creative thinking by encouraging top-tier students to pursue entrepreneurial, innovation-based study with the same veracity they do their other scholastic opportunities.


"Binary thinking – yes/no, right/left, right/wrong – might have created the world’s best I-bankers and product designers in the past..."

The 12-week design curriculum was truncated into an hour and a half session during which small groups of participants dug into a design-challenge seen within higher education – a challenge not unlike that which Princeton students solved for during the Spring course. The clock was set for 15 minutes and each team set forth to ideate solutions around this challenge statement:

Nationally, graduate schools in 2015 saw the first enrollment increase in close to a decade. How can the council of graduate schools guide its affiliates, with understanding and with empathy, to create new models of education within academia that will continue this trend?

The challenge statement was approached using Sub Rosa’s design methodology, a tri-phase process that includes:

  • Discovering the root of the challenge, which is based on the consumer, company, and context, as well as the interconnected nature of each component;
  • Designing meaningful experiences that generate conversations, behaviors, relationships, and memories;
  • Developing and Acting to alleviate issues associated with the challenge

As the work session wrapped, each team presented their proposed solutions, which included engineering fruitful ecosystems between schools, employers, and students to increase opportunities for gainful employment post-graduation; schools more clearly articulating the benefit of earning a graduate degree at the program entry point to entice potential candidates to pursue enrollment; student groups creating a platform through which students are able to actively share work experience with peers, enabling them to more effectively pursue employment.

In true Sub Rosan and Princetonian form, each team leveraged creativity and collaboration to arrive at a real-world solution to an intriguing challenge.

"...but now, design is in everything and everything needs design."