How to Make a Sketchbook with Recycled Cardboard

As part of one of our early classes, our students tackled the task of assembling handmade sketchbooks from recycled cardboard.

We talked with our students about what it means to be a designer and a critical thinker- that you are always ready to be creative and constantly recording new ideas that may help you to improve upon your design thoughts. This is part of our circular design thinking process of:

Design Thinking

In their new-found role as designers, our students will use their sketchbooks to jot down ideas and sketches as they go through the lessons in our class, and will also record inspirations that they have outside of class. Long after YDS has wrapped up, our students can continue to use their sketchbooks as places to record their ideas and dreams, and use design thinking in their everyday lives.

In keeping with our philosophy of using recycled materials wherever possible, our covers were made from cardboard boxes gathered from grocery stores.

The covers were measured, marked, and then scored with X-acto knives so that we could fold them into a cover shape.

We folded stacks of A4 sheets of paper in half to create what are called signatures, the sections that are eventually bound into the sketchbook cover. Then we used a needle and thread to stitch the signatures securely into the cover to create the binding of the sketchbooks.

cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (5) cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (6) cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (4)

If you are interested in making your own sketchbook, or sharing this exercise with others, you can find the full instructions  at

You can simplify this as necessary if you are working with younger people, for example by using string and tying each signature separately into the cover.

cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (7)cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (8)cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (9) 

While the technique was challenging, using a needle and thread helped our students to give extra security and structure to the binding of our sketchbooks. We discussed with students that this was the way that books used to be made by hand, before machines came onto the scene! Not only are they design thinkers, but they have also mastered the art of ancient book-binding!

cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (3) cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (2) cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (1)

Our students were patient, exacting, and careful with their sketchbook binding, and created amazing results!

cardboard sketchbook youth design studio (10)

Some of our crowdfunding supporters will also be receiving sketchbooks, so look for them coming your way soon!

Stay tuned to hear about other projects our students have been working on!  If you’re curious about the Youth Design Studio perspective on design and designers, check out our earlier blog post on what design is and who designers are.  These ideas have helped shape this class, and we hope they’ll get you thinking about your world in a new way as well!

September 3rd, 2014 by imblog

Youth Design Studio is LIVE!!

HELLO Everyone!!

The Youth Design Studio team (Julie Goodness and Katie Hawkes, specifically) have arrived in Cape Town and hit the ground running on our World Design Capital 2014 project!  We are thrilled to be back in the Rainbow Nation, and have done some frolicking through flowery fields in our non-teaching time to celebrate.


Even more excitingly, Youth Design Studio is LIVE!! We have begun teaching the class with two groups of high school learners: one at Muizenberg High School, and one at Ikamva Youth Makhaza.   Our students have been fabulous so far, and we’re excited to be starting our second week of classes with both groups!!


Our first week covered some basic design principles as well as our overall purpose with Youth Design Studio: to teach that design is something that everyone can access, that doesn’t require fancy equipment, expensive materials or extensive training.  It’s about using the skills you have, the materials around you, and your own intuition and experience to solve the problems around you.  We’ll be posting updates about our classes, activities, experiences, and day to day surprises as much as we can, so follow us on the Imagine More Blog!

Lastly, an amazingly GIANT THANK YOU to all the people who donated to our Thundafund campaign, loaned or donated cameras, or donated materials or time to make Youth Design Studio a reality!  From our students and ourselves, THANK YOU SO MUCH, we would never be here without YOU!!!

August 20th, 2014 by imblog

Digital Cameras for Youth Design Studio!

HELLO friends & supporters!

After a little hiatus of going back to our day-to-day lives (while simultaneously working toward Youth Design Studio in our different cities and continents), the Youth Design Studio team is back in Cape Town!! We’ll be implementing Youth Design Studio with TWO different Cape Town high schools, as well as a youth group! And we need your help!

If you have an old digital camera lying around (come on, you updated to the latest & greatest tech at least once in the past couple years!), we would love to borrow it! Alternatively, if you’d like to donate it, your donation is tax deductible!  As part of Youth Design Studio, our students will be using photography to help focus on their community, their identity, and how they can change things for the better.  We are shooting for a camera for each of 20 students.  We have 5 cameras – that’s 15 to go!  Help us reach our goal by loaning or donating your used digital camera for the next 5 weeks!


If you’d like to help, email us at  If you’re in San Diego, one of our team members would be happy to come fetch your camera from you; if you’re somewhere else in the US, we’re happy to reimburse your shipping costs.

Thank you again, from our students and from us!!

Design LOVE,

Katie & Julie


PS Check this great video from Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 – we’re so proud to be a part of it!

August 5th, 2014 by imblog

Youth Design Studio in the WDC2014 Pitch Session!

Hey there!

If you’ve been keeping up with us via Facebook, Twitter, or our blog, you know that we pitched Youth Design Studio to a crowd of participants, supporters and staff of Thundafund and the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 back in February. In fact, we wrote a blog all about our experience putting together our Youth Design Studio pitch for the pitch session!

youth design studio world design capital (2)

Well, in case you were curious about how it turned out, we finally managed to get the video on here!! Our cameraman didn’t have enough time to set up properly, so the angle is a little weird and the focus goes in and out sometimes, but if you read our blog and want to see how the actual pitch went, or if you’re just curious about Youth Design Studio, check it out!  It’s a fun in-person overview of the project, with some one-of-a-kind flair thrown in (ie. Julie in the background, building the letters for “Youth Design Studio” out of low-cost and recycled materials)!



Youth Design Studio/Imagine More Cape Town World Design Capital Pitch Session from Imagine More on Vimeo.

May 7th, 2014 by imblog

What is “Design”?

design challengeAdmit it: we’ve all wondered.  Especially in Cape Town at the moment, the concept of “design” is thrown around with the expectation that everyone just automatically knows what it means.  On the contrary, however: it’s hard for most people to wrap their minds around, even those who deal with “design” every day.  And if you’re somewhere else – like me, for example, here in San Diego, talking about design to all kinds of people – it’s even tougher!  Because as far as we can tell, the answer to the question we’re so often asked is this: there IS no good definition.

That’s not the response you were hoping for, I’m sure.  But it’s true: everyone  you ask, every website you visit, even people who design things for a living will have a different definition of “design.”  Some people think of it as exclusively art-based: graphic design, for example.  For others it conjures images of well-made objects: product and architectural design, in these cases.  Some think of places and spaces when they hear the word “design”: for them, the concept is associated with public planning, landscape or interior design. Still others think of “design” in broader terms: for example, “design thinking” as a method of problem-solving.

When Julie and I were recently in Cape Town attending World Design Capital events, other participants would ask us if we were designers.  Well, that’s kind of a difficult question! We certainly think of ourselves as designers – we’re creating a sustainable design education program at the moment – so in that sense, yes.  Does “design” have to be explicitly in our job titles for us to be designers?

These are questions that the Cape Town World Design Capital brings up every day, and they’re incredibly important to answer: in a city dedicated to design, who is doing the designing?  It is just the artists and engineers and planners and architects?  Or is there a way that everyone could be involved?

Although it often feels like the “design world” is closed off to non-professionals, in our opinion EVERYONE is a designer. what is design imagine more To us, design is using creativity and imagination to create something that doesn’t exist; it’s using the skills and materials you have to address the problems around you in new ways.  As we’ve emphasized in our presentations, workshops, and other events we’ve conducted in making Youth Design Studio a reality, everyone has difficulties that they face on a day to day basis. Whether they’re professional or personal, we all have challenges: and we all have the power to design solutions to those challenges.  The key is feeling like you have that power.

You could say that’s our objective in being a part of Cape Town World Design Capital: we want to make sure that EVERYONE knows they have a place at the design table.  No matter who you are – no matter what age, job, city, nationality, ethnicity, or anything else – YOU can help design the world you want to live in.  Whether it’s in your home, school, office, community, city or globe, you CAN contribute to solving the problems around you!  To us, that’s what design is.

If you’d like to start a conversation on what design is to you, we’d love to hear from you!  Email us at, or get your ideas out there by Tweeting us @ImagineMoreOrg or posting on the Imagine More Facebook page!  If you’d like to learn more about us and how we use design, feel free to visit our About Us section!

April 27th, 2014 by imblog

Best Things Imagine More Learned Today

We at Imagine More just wanted to share with you the coolest things we came across today.  Just because any day can be awesome and full of new knowledge that is hilarious and fun.

1. Humulus lupulus: the impossible-to-say-5-times-fast scientific name of hops (the bittering agent in beer), named with the Latin word for “wolf,” because Pliny (a Roman historian) thought they strangled things like wolves strangle sheep.
2. Ottoman Turkish Empire Settlement Payment: something, according to Turbo Tax, that California would give me a tax deduction for, if it applied to me.

Learn new things EVERY. DAY.


imagine more san diego hops

April 1st, 2014 by imblog

San Diego: #1 BEST Place For Small Businesses (Forbes)

Hello, friends!

Having bid a tearful goodbye to Cape Town (only for a little while!), Julie and I (the Youth Design Studio team!) are back in our other-mother-cities, Stockholm and San Diego respectively.  As we continue to work toward making Youth Design Studio a cross-continental reality, we are so incredibly grateful for the support we have gotten and continue to get from our communities around the world!  And today we are extra proud of our San Diego community: San Diego was ranked #1 Best City for Small Business Startups in a recent Forbes publication!!   As a San Diego entrepreneur, I couldn’t be happier with this news!

San Diego best small business forbes

The Forbes study looked at the 50 most populous cities in the United States, assessing whether they are good environments for small businesses.  Billions of data points were analyzed to reveal whether those cities are friendly to entrepreneurs; are characterized by great community engagement; and have good access to resources.  These characteristics were evaluated based on a number of criteria: for example, the percentage of small businesses as a fraction of total businesses; percentage of small businesses in high growth industries; percentage of small businesses with Facebook pages and websites; and percentage of businesses with online reviews.  Denver, Austin, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco also made the top half of the list (Western state pride!).

Great job, San Diego!  We ranked in the top 5 in nearly every category to get into that top slot.  We have a heavy concentration of businesses in high-growth industries; we are very likely to accept credit cards and adopt social media; and our communities are very engaged with their small business neighbors.  Being a small business ourselves, we are thrilled with this news – and thrilled with the support we personally have received from people all over San Diego!  We definitely feel how lucky we are to be here.

So keep it up, San Diego!  If you’d like to read the full article, “The Best Places to Launch a Startup in 2014,” it’s available on the Forbes website, and if you want to learn more about Youth Design Studio, our project in Cape Town (and San Diego, hopefully!), check out the Youth Design Studio page on the Imagine More website!

san diego best small business forbes



March 14th, 2014 by imblog

Hello from Imagine More!!

Hello, World!!

Imagine More Nonprofit San Diego

This is the inaugural blog for Imagine More, a San Diego, California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education, youth empowerment, and sustainability in communities.  We hope you’ll keep up with us as we help forward-thinking, sustainability-driven people and organizations get from where they are to where they want to go – while, at the same time, exploring our experiences, travels, and what it’s like to do what we do.


If you want to read more about us, visit our main website at; check us out on Facebook at; and follow us on Twitter at  Thanks for keeping up with our adventures!  We’d love to hear from you, whether you have feedback, suggestions, comments, or just want to say hello – so please comment on this blog, post to our Facebook page, Tweet us at @ImagineMoreOrg, or just send us an email at!  You’re the best!!



Katie & The Imagine More Team

February 1st, 2014 by imblog