Digital Lab

2016 - 2017 | Youth Design Education

Setting up a physical space and workshop curriculum to teach middle and high school youth design thinking and design skills at the Digital Lab at Root Division, a non profit arts organization in San Francisco.


8 months

Design Strategy
Creative Direction
Workshop Facilitation

Visual Design
Design Education

Cenorina Ramirez
Karelia Arredondo
Rawan Kobeissi
Tara Chandi

Community Partners
Root Division
City Studio
Julio Martinez



The team's passion for art education and desire to use design thinking and co-creation to empower underserved youth in San Francisco brought us together to create this initiative.




For the first 5 months of this project we immersed ourselves into the youth art education system in San Francisco by meeting educators at different art organizations and volunteering at events to understand the needs of the youth, their families and their communities.



We conducted a total of 14 interviews with educators from the African American Arts & Culture Center, Root Division, Youth Speaks, Youth Art Exchange, Southern Exposure, and Inneract Project.

Key Learnings:

  • There is a robust network of arts organizations in San Francisco that offer programming for youth
  • Underserved youth often don't have access to design and digital art through schools or other organizations
  • There has been an increase in interest among youth towards design



Synthesizing our research led us to craft our How Might We statement:

HMW enable capacity building among youth by sharing transferable skills that they can leverage in order to become creators of their own future?

We formed a partnership with Root Division, where we had conducted an interview during our research phase. Their desire to set up a Digital Lab for their resident artists and youth aligned with our vision and skills.




We wanted to host a weeklong series of workshops on graphic design at the Digital Lab as part of its launch. We did 2 prototypes of single-day workshops at two Boys and Girls Clubs, during which we did design thinking exercises with middle and high school youth. The content of the workshop was designing for an island of the future that goes underwater. We collected feedback on our workshop and made iterations to the format.

Key Learnings:

  • Introduce the outcome/deliverable at the beginning of the workshop (a poster in our case) so participants have clarity and a goal during the process
  • To effectively facilitate a design thinking workshop with a large group of youth, all members of the facilitation team need clear roles
  • Focus on collaborative and conceptual skills in equal parts when doing design thinking activities with youth

Physical Space


workshop series

8 students | August 14 - 18, 2017 | Root Division




Julio Martinez was the instructor for the first two days over which the students were introduced to graphic design and stencils. They made a design that they painted on shirts.




Rawan was the instructor and gave the students a demo on a browser based design software called Gravit after which they created posters for their favorite musician on tour.




Karelia and I instructed the two days of zine making. After analyzing zines and discussing the importance of self expression, we worked on a collaborative space themed zine.




We are in the process of developing a flexible framework that design educators new to running workshops with youth can use. The intention is for it to be iterated upon and expanded. We want to share all the lessons we learned along our journey and hope it can help others doing similar projects!