Ansley Whipple graduated this spring from the History of Decorative Arts and Design MA program at Parsons the New School for Design in conjunction with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Her thesis explored the impact of social design practices in Hale County, Alabama.
In recent years the movement for social change through design has seen an immense resurgence. Ansley is particularly interested in examining the impact of socially engaged design projects to determine whether project goals were met, and to learn about the unintended positive and negative consequences that can arise when designers engage in social change work.
Trained as a design historian, Ansley values an understanding of the ways in which design shapes social structures (and vice versa), and the importance of using this knowledge to inform current design practices. Last fall, Ansley traveled to Hale County, Alabama, to conduct field research. This sparsely populated and intensely underserved rural county is currently a hot-bed of social design practitioners, many of whom have relocated to the community intent on bringing positive change.
Beginning with the Rural Studio (a design/build program at the Auburn University School of Architecture), which was founded in Hale County almost 20 years ago, a slew of design-centric organizations have followed in recent years. These organizations include Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization (HERO), Project M, PieLab, Habitat for Humanity, and Bamboo Bike Studio. Ansley focused on these groups, evaluating their projects and methods, their impact on the community, and local perceptions of their work.
As Program Manager at Worldstudio, Ansley organizes Design Ignites Change, an initiative that funds the implementation of socially-minded student design projects. She is also an intern/communications assistant at desigNYC. Previously, she was the Director of Operations at the Museum of Design Atlanta. A native of Atlanta, she received a BS in Industrial Design from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2004.