Pam Daniels

Recap: 2/11/2015

A strong theme in February’s meeting was the possibility of building community through design. We met Pam Daniels, a candidate in the Masters of Product Design & Development program at Northwestern’s Segal Design Institute. She hosted at Catalyze Chicago where she is a member with her non profit Design House Chicago. Pam shared the story of how she arrived at pursuing a career in design, her experience in the field thus far and her plans for her non-profit.

Some highlights of her journey:

  • Started doing human-centered design intuitively (before being aware of the term) at Starcom MediaVest Group by imagining and designing their first intranet and later redesigning software to power the emerging data & analytics practice. Her first step was always to immerse herself in the current process by sitting side by side with the doers, learn about it, observe it, understand it, then design.  She likens what she was doing to ethnography.
  • Read “Change by Design”
  • Worked at IDEO as Director of People & Culture
  • Tried classes at Institute of Design
  • Discovered the Ford Engineering Design Center at Northwestern
  • First project at Design Boot Camp was “The Happy Client” which is an Arduino-powered sculpture that provides affirmation for designers.  Stacks of laser-cut felt form the head, and a 3D-printed spinner wheel offers one of three messages: Your Work is Brilliant, Everyone Loves It, and The Team is Terrific.  Clear acrylic shows off the electronics, and a Hall effect sensor reacts to spinner movement by illuminating the display.
  • Founded DesignHouse


DesignHouse, Inc. was founded in 2014 by Paul Hatch, Pam Daniels & Susan Page Estes.  A not-for-profit entity which brings together the design community to grow local manufacturing, DesignHouse gathers professional designers for design jams, involves students in post-jam product development process, and breathes new life into old industries.

DesignHouse has partnered with Mike Slezac at JARC (Jane Addams Resource Corporation) who connected them to fantastic local manufacturers. Design students at both Northwestern University and Virginia Tech have supported their development efforts. The founders, never would have met without the marvelous maker community in Chicago called MakerBiz.

We asked Pam, why non-profit status for DesignHouse? She explained is was to encourage community and support local manufacturing. One goal for the organization is to establish a physical workspace that provides shared tools.

First Kickstarter with DesignHouse: Reveal4cdadc5e6c17fd79fb87845c8258db08_large

Pam’s first independent Kickstarter Urbanite Mini Messenger Bagc24cab9e22456b89f8d7ebfeb5e902c6_large

Relevant Links:

Ford Engineering Design Center –

Segal Design Institute –

Shapeways –

Desktime – shared workspaces –

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Council –

Apparel Industry Board –