Having just moved to New York City, Leyla Acaroglu and two colleagues had this crazy idea to start a school for adults dedicated to creating positive change.
They knew the potential was great, but they had to establish their brand and their company to make it happen.
Disrupt Design was born.
What began from the founders’ academic interest in design and creativity has evolved into a company that educates its clients about making social impact through out-of-the-box methods.
Backed by experts in ideation, sustainability and sociology, Disrupt Design develops gamified toolkits and provides mentoring, research and game design services as a foundation for exploring and understanding the world.
The goal is to use design as a jump-start for educating people about creative problem solving and becoming agents of positive social change.
Design Powers Positive Change
Disrupt Design began as a way to engage others in the benefits of sustainability and social innovation. Rather than concentrating on what’s wrong with the world, Leyla believes we should create opportunities for change through innovative design.
“I believe in design as a powerful force for positive change,” Leyla says. “I want to see more of my fellow designers and social changers actively participating in the type of world they want to live in. To do this, you need curiosity, a good mental toolkit and what I call a ‘Do Philosophy.’ That’s why I started DD and the Un-school to help activate and evoke for positive change.” (We’ll tell you about the Un-school later in this story.)
With her ideas being as radical as they are, Leyla admits that it was hard to get people on-board with them. Lack of funding also presented a problem to the small team, but they tirelessly worked through it in the hopes of achieving the future they envision.
The Rise of Disrupt Design
Despite the initial lack of confidence in her ideas, Leyla and her team’s persistence paid off.
From the everyday educator to large organizations like TED, Disrupt Design opened its doors and toolkits to anyone who seeks change and sustainability. With the rapidly increasing attention, it was only a matter of time before the company took things to a new level.
Founded in 2014, the Un-school of Disrupt Design is an experimental knowledge lab for creative rebels and anyone else who like to think outside the box.
Un-school works hand in hand with Disrupt Design to create workshops, fellowship programs and weekend adventures for professionals who feel stuck in their everyday lives. They host radical events to boost creativity, such as Verbal Fight Club, Discussions in the Dark and secret dinner parties.
Get Those Ideas Out of Your Head
Why does design play such a big role in Leyla’s company?
“Design is the silent social influencer that scripts our lives in extreme and profoundly pervasive ways,” she says. “Nearly every moment of our existence involves an interaction with the designed world — products, services, cities, buildings, bureaucracy — it’s all designed with intent. Design is the practice of influence and thus has extreme power.”
If there’s one thing she wants people to take away from her experience, it’s the importance of curiosity.
“Curiosity! Foster it, use it and share it with others,” she says. “Turn it into courage and then put your ideas into action.”
“Ideas stuck inside heads never changed the world. We all make the world as much as it makes us, so we all have the opportunity and capacity to participate in the creation of a more equitable and peaceful place to live.”