The Story Behind The Design Marathon

When I was in high school we had an annual Dance Marathon. All the dancers (or wallflowers…it was high school) solicited pledges from family and friends to dance from 8pm-8am. The collected money was given to a nonprofit the students selected. We, the students, had a great time dancing, eating pizza at two o’clock in the morning and staying up all night with relatively few adults to keep tabs on us. At that time it was mostly about the fun of it, making a big donation to a nonprofit was a bonus.

Fast forward to January 2008, Charlottesville-Virginia, the Alloy team was talking about the work we do for nonprofits. We’ve worked pro-bono, reduced rate, and sometimes for season tickets – and we were sure others had too. We thought it would be cool to get a bunch of designers together to do what we would do anyway, but structure it in a way where we worked collaboratively, potentially across disciplines, all night long. The all-night part was nixed early on, but the concept was clear – The Design Marathon would be an event where designers could come together and take on design challenges with a 12 hour deadline, build a professional community of service-oriented designers, and use our design-powers for good to help our community.

This time around it’s still about the fun of it…but instead of shakin’ our moneymakers and eating pizza into the wee hours of the morning we’ll be sketching, defending decisions, collaborating, DESIGNING. Oh – and drinking champagne at the end of it all. I can’t wait.

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