Get a checkup at the Design Walk-In Clinic

Have you ever wished you could just stop by a store and ‘buy’ yourself some design advice? Maybe not – but now you can!

The Design Walk-In is a drop-in clinic created to make design and design advice accessible to the general public. It was started by Zahra Ebrahim and Ken Chong in Toronto.

Zahra is one of the coolest people you can know – she was my prof at OCAD University, where I took her “Think Tank” course all 3 times I could. This clever pop-up shop is one of Zahra’s many initiatives (this one started along with a friend), and one that I’m going to be involved with – as a Specialist offering services to “patients”.

Zahra has been a great role model, and has started this initiative right around the time of my Designing for Good Thesis project – including being part of the mini-documentary on using design for social good – which coincidentally included the idea of developing a physical collaborative studio space. Awesome.

But why a Design Walk-In Clinic? To make design and related services more accessible! Well, it’s descried perfectly on the clinic’s website:

While design is critical to the health of a business, most organizations, companies, and individuals typically engage with designers through word of mouth, such as leveraging their social networks – and are often, left with limited options. While this process can sometimes result in the desired aesthetic, the clinic is responding to an

increasing demand within the business community for access to good design by introducing the client to designers prepared to tackle any project regardless of the scale or budget. The clinic provides the client access to specialists who can address their needs during an appointment, prescribe possible avenues to take to improve the client’s overall design health, or refer the client to our trusted network of specialists.

So why the focus on design? Design is a huge help organizations succeed in their goals. Similar to the benefits of my Designing for Good project, one of the questions they answer is, “how can a designer help my business?”

Good design is imperative to the overall health of your business. Consumers make judgements on the credibility of a business within their first two minutes of exposure. Whether it is their initial clicks through your website or the feel of your business card, design plays an intimate roll in converting impressions into sales.

This is an exciting initiative to be a part of. The opening night was a great chance to network with fellow designers and community members. It was also good to see Keith Rushton, the Chair of the Graphic Design program at OCAD U (who also taught me in Think Tank class) supporting the clinic!

For more on the clinic itself, only around for June 2012, visit

Read “The Designer Will Be Right With You” featured in The Huffington Post blog here.