AMES, Iowa — A symposium exploring the relationship between design and entrepreneurship will take place April 3-4 at the Iowa State University College of Design.

(d)innovation: Transforming Design for Entrepreneurship” will be from 9 a.m. to noon and 1:45 to 5 p.m. Monday, April 3, in the college’s Gallery 181, room 181 Design. Guest speakers will talk about the connection between design and entrepreneurship and lead discussions to create an environment that fosters innovative collaborations, said event co-coordinator Kimberly Zarecor, director of the ISU interdisciplinary design program and an associate professor of architecture.

Panelists and discussion topics will differ at each of the sessions. In the morning, Zarecor and co-coordinator Kevin Lair, lecturer in interdisciplinary design and architecture, have asked experts in education to talk about how universities and their partners in communities and industry can work together to create “an enduring incubation environment that produces purpose-drive entrepreneurs who innovatie and actualize the full potential of their ideas.”

In the afternoon, they have asked industry professionals in real estate, construction, design and community activism to share how their work shows that “interdisciplinary design can change the world from the perspective of the individual, the small enterprise and the discipline.”

Guest speakers

Speakers were selected “to provide a broad range of perspectives, while also bringing out some shared underlying themes that could emerge even though their own experiences may seem very diverse,” Zarecor said.

Mahesh Daas, dean, School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Kansas
Geoff Marietta, executive director, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, Kentucky
Howard Vanauken, Kingland Professor of Entrepreneurship, Iowa State University
Craig Watters, executive director, Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, Oklahoma State University

Adrienne Gentry, principal, Gentry Interiors, Chicago
Namakau Muyangana, CEO, Nas Industries, Livingstone, Zambia
Lyndsay Nissen, co-founder and co-owner, Reliable Street, Ames
James Spiller, design and development manager, Blackbird Investments, Des Moines

Attendance at both sessions is encouraged but not required. Light refreshments will be served. A reception will be from 5 to 6 p.m. in the college’s Lyle E. Lightfoot Forum. Sponsored by the interdisciplinary design program and the College of Design, the symposium and reception are free and open to the public.

Activities on Tuesday, April 4, will be organized in collaboration with the College of Business and are by arrangement only. Iowa State faculty and staff interested in hosting a guest speaker in a class or attending a meeting with other campus colleagues should contact Zarecor, zarecor@iastate.edu.

Connections and opportunities

“A fundamental question for all participants to ask is how design can generate new opportunities. We seek to build more connections outside of design fields, but also to continue to explore just what, why and how design is operating in the world,” said Lair.

“For students, we hope to provide a higher sense of purpose for their work and identify opportunities for them to impact their communities. These presentations and discussions will give them a better sense of what their career paths might look like as interdisciplinary designers, design entrepreneurs, or in whichever professional niche they create for themselves that gives them the best chance to make a difference in the world,” he said.

Lair hopes that by creating opportunities for collaboration a “regional network of allies and advocates will grow among design colleges and entrepreneurship programs,” he said.

“Often people go to conferences and feel inspired, but this quickly dissipates after the event. I want our event to lead people to real action. It starts by just going into the symposium with this goal in mind and communicating a willingness to partner and be a reliable collaborator.”


Kevin Lair, Architecture and Interdisciplinary Design, klair@iastate.edu
Kimberly Zarecor, Architecture and Interdisciplinary Design, zarecor@iastate.edu
Paige Adams, Design Communications, psadams@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu