Written by Julia Gralki. Photo courtesy of Sarah Diaz.
SCAD’s Design for Sustainability program was launched in 2009. Since then, promotions have grown year on year, as has demand for sustainability experts like Laura Ramirez Garcia.
She graduated with a Masters in Design for Sustainability in 2021 and now works as Design Manager for Catapult Design, a nonprofit global design studio with offices in New York and Savannah. The organization is committed to improving people’s lives through accessible and innovative design, especially for underserved populations.
“I never thought I would work for an organization like this. And I love it,” she said.
In fact, Ramirez Garcia graduated from SCAD with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design before deciding to enroll in the master’s program in design for sustainability. And even though she doesn’t design clothing in her work for Catapult, her bachelor’s degree still comes in handy.
“When you start a Masters in Design, you don’t have a foundation course. You walk right into it,” Ramirez Garcia said.
But when creating a presentation deck or brainstorming ideas for a project, these basic courses really come in handy.
“All my knowledge of color theory and design language, everything I learned in my first and second year at SCAD, I was able to use in my master’s degree,” she said. declared.
Not only his mastery, but also his professional work benefits from these foundation courses. “I can create a deck for a client, or I can step in and help with social media. And if I didn’t know these tools in undergrad, I wouldn’t be able to do this.
His design for sustainability courses, on the other hand, gave him another perspective on what sustainability means.
“A lot of people think sustainability is just about being green and recycling,” she said. Instead, the program focuses on systemic change. Students are encouraged to solve complex problems by looking at the big picture and the relationships between individual aspects of a problem. It’s about designing sustainable solutions and creating innovation.
But while sustainability is often understood to be synonymous with environmentalism, the term also refers to values such as community.
“In order to make something better for people or the community, you really have to work with them and not just for them,” Ramirez Garcia said. The Design for Sustainability program taught her the importance of taking primary research seriously by conducting interviews. If the people the students or professionals are designing for aren’t part of the process, the solution won’t really benefit them.
This idea of collaborating, co-creating and working with people rather than for them is central to her work as a multidisciplinary designer, where she uses her leadership and outreach skills to empower and educate communities.
“How can you use design thinking or sustainable practices to improve people’s quality of life? she talked about her main goal and her vision for her work.
While she loves her current job and would like to stay there forever, she could also see herself returning to the fashion industry. If an opportunity arises, she would like to bring the aspect of sustainability into the fashion industry. She hopes the industry will become more aware of what it is creating right now and its impact on the environment.