Arts & Culture

Design as a Tool for Social and Environmental Impact: ​​A Conversation with Shravan Hotha

Non-profit organizations are a vital part of society, working to create a better world by addressing social, environmental, and economic issues. These organizations rely on the dedication and commitment of individuals who are passionate about making a difference in the world.

Shravan Hotha is one such individual, whose commitment to using design as a tool for positive change has been a defining characteristic of his career. As a designer, Shravan is passionate about creating visually stunning and engaging work that resonates with audiences and pushes boundaries. His work with non-profit organizations highlights his commitment to using design to make a positive impact in the world.

Currently, Shravan works as a product designer at Plume Design, where he is involved in the development of HomePass, a product that he is deeply invested in. His expertise in product design and his passion for creating impactful work make him an invaluable asset to the team.

Shravan’s career began at an early age, as a visual designer for advertising agencies. He later pursued computer science in his undergrad to expand his interests and prepare him for a successful career in design. One of his most significant accomplishments was designing five themes that garnered over 3,000 sales on Envato Market, earning him four awards for his contributions to the marketplace.

In this interview, we will be exploring Shravan’s passion for making a difference through his work as a designer and his dedication to using his skills to create a better world. We will delve into his process for designing products that have a positive impact on society and the environment, and his approach to collaborating with non-profit organizations.

We’re so impressed with your work, Shravan. Tell us, how do you incorporate your passion for positive change into your design work?

Design has been a passion of mine since a young age, but it wasn’t until completing my Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction at the California College of the Arts that I realized the potential of design for positive change.

During my studies and work with non-profit organizations such as Creativity Explored and Destiny Art Center, I discovered how design practices can be used to create positive change in the world. Through these experiences, I gained an understanding of the importance of empathy in design and the impact that design can have on people’s lives.

As a designer, my goal is to use my skills to create meaningful and impactful designs that positively impact people’s lives. Whether I am working on a website, app, or product, I always approach the design process with empathy and a focus on the end-user.

By incorporating my passion for positive change into my design work, I am driven to make a difference in the world and inspire others to do the same.

Can you give us an example of a project where you used design to create a positive impact in the community or society?

One project that I am particularly proud of is my collaboration with Destiny Art Center, where my teammates and I introduced a new leadership curriculum design. As a team, we acknowledged the importance of teaching leadership skills to youth in underserved communities and aimed to create an engaging and accessible curriculum.

Through our research and design process, we developed a curriculum called the Warrior Code, which fostered leadership skills through creative expression, storytelling, and design thinking. We worked closely with the staff and students at Destiny Art Center to ensure that the curriculum was tailored to their specific needs and designed to be inclusive and empowering.

This project enabled us to use design to create a positive impact in the community by providing a valuable resource for young people to develop their leadership skills and express themselves creatively. The Warrior Code curriculum received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the students and staff at Destiny Art Center.

We witnessed firsthand the impact our design had on the community, and it was incredibly rewarding to know that we made a difference. This project demonstrated the power of design to effect positive change in the world and reaffirmed my commitment to using design as a tool for good.

What role do you think design plays in creating positive change, and how can designers use their skills to make a difference?

Design plays a pivotal role in effecting positive change in the world. As a designer, I believe that we possess a unique opportunity to use our skills and creativity to address some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges facing our communities today.

Whether it’s designing products that encourage sustainability, creating user-friendly interfaces for vital social services, or developing educational materials for underserved communities, there are numerous ways designers can contribute to making a positive impact in the world.

In my own work, I have consistently been motivated by the desire to use my design skills to make a difference. Regardless of whether I am working on a project for a non-profit organization, collaborating with community members, or simply seeking opportunities to employ my design skills for good, I always prioritize the potential for positive impact.

I maintain that, as designers, we have a responsibility to use our skills for the greater good and be intentional about our work’s impact on society. By incorporating empathy, sustainability, and social responsibility into our design practices, we can make a difference and create a more just and equitable world for everyone.

Can you tell us about a time when you collaborated with a non-profit organization, and how your design work helped further their mission?

One example of this was my collaboration with Creativity Explored, a non-profit organization that offers artists with developmental disabilities the opportunity to create and share their work with the community. They approached us to help redesign their volunteer onboarding experience, recognizing the importance of providing a positive and engaging experience for volunteers who are essential to their mission.

Throughout our design process, we concentrated on creating a user-friendly onboarding experience that would enable volunteers to easily sign up, learn about the organization and its mission, and engage in a meaningful way. We collaborated closely with the staff and volunteers at Creativity Explored to ensure that the design was tailored to their needs and aligned with their values of inclusion and accessibility.

As a result of our collaboration, the new volunteer onboarding experience proved to be a tremendous success. Volunteers reported feeling more connected to the organization and its mission, while the staff at Creativity Explored were able to streamline their volunteer management process. It was incredibly rewarding to see how our design work contributed to the organization’s mission and provided a valuable resource for the community.

How do you approach designing for social or environmental sustainability, and what principles do you follow in your work?

Designing for social and environmental sustainability is a top priority in my work. To approach designing for sustainability, I begin by researching the environmental and social impact of the project. This helps me identify opportunities to integrate sustainable practices into my design. I emphasize using sustainable materials, minimizing waste, and reducing energy consumption whenever possible.

Another principle I adhere to is designing for accessibility and inclusivity. Sustainable design should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or cultural background. By designing with accessibility and inclusivity in mind, we can ensure that our designs positively impact a broader range of people and promote greater social and environmental sustainability.

Lastly, I believe in the importance of collaboration and community involvement in the design process. By engaging with the community and understanding their needs and perspectives, we can create more effective and sustainable designs that are rooted in the local context. My approach to designing for social and environmental sustainability is guided by the principles of research, sustainability, accessibility, inclusivity, and community involvement.

What challenges have you faced in using design to create positive change, and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced in using design to create positive change is navigating the balance between aesthetic appeal and functionality. Sometimes, designs that are visually striking might not necessarily be the most effective or sustainable solutions.

It can be difficult to persuade clients or stakeholders to prioritize function over form, but I always emphasize the importance of designing for both beauty and purpose. To overcome this challenge, I try to involve the client in the design process and demonstrate how the design can be both aesthetically pleasing and practical.

Another challenge I have faced is convincing clients to invest in sustainable design practices, which can sometimes come with a higher upfront cost. However, I always emphasize the long-term benefits of sustainable design, including reduced maintenance costs and environmental impact.

I also try to find creative solutions to balance cost and sustainability, such as incorporating repurposed materials into the design. Ultimately, I believe that sustainable design is a worthwhile investment in the future, and I work to educate my clients on its value and benefits.

Can you share an example of a project where you had to balance the needs of the client with your desire to create a positive impact through design?

One project that comes to mind when I think about balancing client needs with my desire to create positive impact through design is a packaging design project I worked on for a client in the food industry. The client had specific requests for the packaging design, including a certain color scheme and font choice.

To achieve a balance, I presented the client with several design options that incorporated their requests while also integrating sustainable design principles. In particular, I reduced excess packaging material to minimize waste and created a design that used eco-friendly and easily recyclable materials.

By considering both the client’s needs and the sustainable design principles, I was able to create a packaging design that not only met their requirements but also had a positive impact on the environment. This experience reinforced my belief that it’s possible to create successful design solutions that benefit both the client and society as a whole.

How do you stay inspired and motivated to continue using your design skills to create positive change in the world?

I stay inspired and motivated to continue using my design skills to create positive change by seeking out new challenges and opportunities that align with my values and goals. Keeping up with the latest trends and innovations in the industry also helps me stay motivated.

Additionally, collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations fuels my passion for using design to create a positive impact. Seeing the impact of my work and receiving positive feedback from clients and the community also inspires me to continue my efforts.

I also stay connected with the design community through attending conferences and participating in online forums. By staying engaged in the design community, I can learn from others and share my own experiences to continue growing as a designer.

Ultimately, I believe that design can make a difference in the world, and that conviction inspires me to keep pushing myself to create meaningful and impactful designs.