The Vancouver Design Nerds Society (VDNS) is an international and award winning community of artists, designers, facilitators, educators and social innovators.
We meet on a regular basis – actively exploring collaborative opportunities and building capacity for Design Jams – through experimentation, practice and reflection.
Jesi (she/her) is a design researcher and interaction designer specializing in community engagement and creative facilitation. Through her work with the Design Nerds, Jesi co-founded the Global Classroom for Democracy Innovation, and incubated the launch of the Cape Town Design Nerds, our first Global South chapter. Jesi is also the Design Technology Lead for Participedia.net, an open source crowdsourcing platform for sharing knowledge and stories about public participation and democratic innovations. Jesi holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Interaction Design (2013) and Master’s Degree in Design (2018) from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Yutaan is a multidisciplinary designer with a background training in industrial design. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC in Canada on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw and Tsleil Waututh First Nations. Yutaan is passionate about using design methods in co-creative and participatory work for community engagement; this means his fortés include organising and facilitating events for social and cultural learning, and bringing people together to collaborate across borders! Yutaan is also an avid image-maker, through his love of communication design, 3D design, illustration and photography.
Sarah (she/her) is a multidisciplinary designer, facilitator and educator with over ten years of experience applying human-centred / participatory design methods in support of a healthy and meaningful collective existence. She is the founder and lead designer of Slow & Steady Design (an autonomous design office); an instructor at Emily Carr University and Simon Fraser University; and Co-director of the Design Nerds.
Heather Tsang is a graphic artist and designer residing in the unceded and ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Heather holds a BDes in Interaction Design from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2013). Outside of Nerd facilitation, she is also one sixth of the zine collective happen stance (VanCAF 2023, WORD Vancouver 2023) and a member of the Richmond Potter’s Club. Topics she’s currently interested in include embodiment, identity, and ethics.
Allison Chow is a community engaged artist, maker and all round curious cat who is always trying to learn new tricks. Her practice draws on her culture, current issues and this contemporary moment. Through a variety of mediums – from installations to rhymes rolled into bathbombs, she explores her poetic sensibilities in many forms and dances between the imagined and lived realms of existence.
Lana is a multifaceted designer specializing in social innovation, strategic visualizations and participatory design. As a fresh member of VDN and a newcomer in Canada, she brings an open mindset and curious energy, along with extensive professional experience as a design researcher and creative facilitator in the public domain and healthcare sector in the Netherlands. Lana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design and a Master’s Degree in Design for Interaction from Delft University of Technology. When she’s not exploring real-world challenges or sketching future visions, she’s out chasing fresh snow on her skis or embarking on her next outdoor adventure by foot or bicycle.
Design Nerd Alumni. We have been lucky to have had so many incredible people serve on our board and steering committee, who have shaped who we are as an organization, over the past 10+ years. And continue to be a part of the larger Design Nerd community.
Alex Grunenfelder, Founder
Ruben Anderson, Founder
Mark Ashby, Former BoD
Ocean Dionne, Former SC
Marten Sims, Former BoD
Kim Cooper, Former BoD
Robyn Fenton, Former BoD
Julien Thomas, Former BoD
Kaitline Weibe, Former SC
Celine Hong, Former SC
Former Directors & Nerd Elders:
Eesmyal Santos-Brault, Founder
Ruban Anderson, Founder
Carla Weinberg, Founder
Mark Ashby, BoD
Marten Sims, BoD
Robyn Fenton, BoD
Naomi Divine, BoD
Sabrina Meherally, BoD
Former Steering Committee Members:
Social Innovators in Residence
Jared Korb (Fall 2014 – Winter 2015)
Maia Rowan (Summer 2013)
Nicholas Harvey-Cheetham (Summer 2013)