Design Research and Strategy, Graduate Student at Carnegie Mellon University

Makeshift On Air

Our YouTube channel, Makeshift On Air features short videos on world-changing design through recurring series like Power Hackers, Makers, and In Graphics which profile the ways unlikely makers and designers are developing creative solutions.


Makeshift On Air

Objective: As research editor, I worked with our editor-in-chief, video editor, and features editor to translate our storytelling capacity, editorial voice, and visual vocabulary into short, character-driven video dispatches. We worked close with Autodesk’s Impact Design Hub and Sustainability Workshop to produce a campaign, Power Hackers, for their Impact Design Hub.

Process: We worked closely with the teams at Autodesk to constrain stories to those that would expose the reader to the myriad ways people must confront energy and climate change. I researched and wrote short treatments for potential stories, illustrating how we would frame the story and defining its narrative appeal. Our video editor worked with producers on location to collect the video he needed to produce the story.

Outcome: We produced five videos for Autodesk’s Power Hackers series that generated 175,000+ views and also provided creative collateral for the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco, California. In addition to this series, Makeshift has also produced three videos for the Makers series, two videos for our Boundaries issue, two animated shorts for the In Graphics series, and one showcase reel. In total, videos from Makeshift On Air have been seen more than 200,000 times.

Retrospective: My work with the Autodesk teams was the initial spark that has now led to my pursuit of a design education. More often than not, a pitch was rejected because I could not produce a compelling answer to the question “How does it scale?”

Even though the pitches featured compelling characters and a creative solution to a unique local problem, the team [and, to an extent, I] remained skeptical of the DIY solution’s ability to address grand energy and climate change challenges.

Their idea of scale was measured by social impact, but perhaps in terms of manufacturing at volume, but I’ve been trying to articulate another strategy for scale. I think often that the stories we share in Makeshift are not one-off stories of overcoming unmet needs, but as strategic set pieces to enact larger change across social, economic, political systems.

I dream in these sophisticated technical and social practices—a machine that consumes the present and reorganizes it to build a more inclusive and sustainable future.

The danger when moving into a new medium like video is that the results won’t be as good, but the Makeshift team has clearly spent a lot of time and money on getting these videos right. This is one channel that’s definitely worth a follow.
— Steve Watson, Stack Magazines

With: Dawn Danby, Steve Daniels, Myles Estey, Matt Peters, Anna Waldman-Brown

Featuring Dispatches From: Greece, France, Scotland, Peru, India, United States, Panama, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, China