Giving Back

Published on Dec 9th, 2014

The RKS team embraced “The Season of Giving” this year by participating in several worldwide events that focus on that idea exactly. From charitable donations, to collaborative workshops, to educational efforts; these events ranged from here in Los Angeles, to across the way in Chicago, to all the way in continent of Africa. The RKS team recapped some of the events and their cause:

The group worked on creative solutions for the
problem such as irrigation systems, new products, technology and other ideas.

The California State University Long Beach Workshop is a program that partners with RKS to bring CSULB students in for an introduction of the design world workspace and environment. After a tour, the workshop then provides hands-on experience of the problem-solving design world. The team puts students into groups to analyze a problem, and then brainstorm solutions.

The problem this year was focused on the California Drought. The group worked on creative solutions for the problem such as irrigations systems, new products, technology and other ideas.

“We wanted to take them out of their comfort zone” explains RKS strategist Marcelo Nicolau, “by offering a complex problem that would challenge them to use human-centered design as a way to promote a local positive impact.”

“It was impressive to see the students approach such a difficult challenge, each using the same tools and methodologies, but their own unique perspectives” commented Harnish Jani, Director of Research and Strategy. “I’m proud that they were able to create such a wide variety of solutions from watering systems and conservation products to leveraging smart technology.”

The idea was to enhance tourism and safety and how they relate within Chicago

ID Barn Raise

Barn Raise is a two-and-a-half day make-a-thon that networks creative hubs and social visionaries in Chicago around one social problem. The focus this year was on “urban safety in an open-source world.”

RKS facilitated the workshop at the Institute of Design while the final exhibit was at the Motorola Mobility Space in Chicago. The team held brainstorming sessions that focused on tourist connectivity in the city of Chicago where the idea was to enhance tourism and safety and analyze how they relate within the city.

It was proposed that a possible solution could be to use more light to unify and integrate hubs of the city. By using light as an entertainment source, it generates interest and attracts people, and also connects areas and invites people to explore more, therefore simultaneously boosting safety and tourism in the city.

RKS strategist Marcelo Nicolau spoke on the cause of the event:

“It’s always great when we are able to use to design to solve human-centric issues. Innovating and improving design in any aspect is great, but it’s always really special when we know the concept is helping people directly; especially in regards to things like safety.”

Barn Raise Information

Design is extremely relevant in supporting causes that are looking to create a positive impact in our society.

Entrepreneurial Impact Day

Entrepreneurial Impact Day is an event that brings entrepreneurial communities together, matching concrete problems with proven skill sets.  By combining the networks between these communities, it allows the opportunity for synergy among talent for fundraising, and community development; furthering the progress of both for-profits and nonprofits such as the LA River Revitalization Corporation, of which some RKS members worked closely with.

6 members of the RKS team participated throughout the 11 groups in attendance. They then helped the non-profits with problem solving sessions and developing creative ways to tell their companies’ story to in-turn, accelerate the impact of their cause. The teams worked on ideas to display content in various methods including info-graphs, wireframes, and advert ads made to tell the vision of the company.

With 11 Non-profits impacted, 15 start-ups volunteering their time and skills, and 9 hours of working sessions; the Entrepreneurial Impact Day was a great cause and day of collaboration for all its’ participants. Some of the attending RKS members spoke on the event:

“The Entrepreneurial Impact Day was a great way to bring together people to help non-profits think of new ways to expand their work” said RKS graphic designer Rebecca Lu.

“Design is extremely relevant in supporting causes that are looking to create a positive impact in our society. EID provided the unique opportunity to work and think with professionals from all backgrounds, which was highly valuable.”


 Industrial designer Dean Loock also attended and talked about the experience “EID was a great experience filled with a lot of inspirational minds collaborating together to try and solve real world problems through creativity and innovation. I think the day raises a lot of awareness for good causes and non-profits that are trying to make a difference. When there are that many influential people in one area there’s a lot of opportunity for real change to be made. The venue was also amazing, with a great view and the catering was great also. Overall it was a successful day with positive intentions.”

Entrepreneurial Impact Day Information

Such a small gesture seems
to go a long way.

World Bicycle Relief

RKS’ Ravi Sawhney and Amalia Sawhney traveled to Africa in support of the World Bicycle Relief program. In addition to making donations, they were part of the group that visited numerous villages and donated bikes to kids who walk 5 miles or more each day back and forth to attend school.

Amalia Sawhney spoke on the touching experience in Africa:

“You cannot help but to fall in love with children of Africa. From their amazing smiles, to their desire to just enjoy life to the fullest. Shoes or no shoes they walk miles to go to school and all they ever want from others is a simple wave and smile back at them, which makes their day even better.  Such a small gesture seems to go a long way. I think that idea is something we all can learn from.

The effect design can have on society is something we know can make a difference.

Final word from RKS Founder and CEO, Ravi Sawhney:

“Giving back comes naturally to the RKS team. We know we are blessed to do what we do, so when we are able to use our creativity and design-based thinking to innovate for others, and not just for commercial reasons, we savor the opportunity. The promise of increasing another’s quality of life is always present in everything we do, but when we get the opportunity to help students better understand the breadth and depth of their potential, or to provide insight driven innovation to increase public safety in a city in need, or to empower non-profits to make the world a better place through design, our work becomes powerfully self-actualizing. The effect design can have on society is something we know can make a difference. In doing so, we become smarter, better and happier people, by helping others who can benefit through our collaboration.”

Thank you to all of our collaborators and participants for these events, and Happy Holiday season from the RKS Team. Remember to keep giving back.


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