Allbirds and Pensole Launch a Program to Develop Inclusive and Sustainability-Minded Designers

Allbirds and Pensole Design Academy have joined forces to help develop a new generation of inclusive, sustainability-minded designers.

The two launched the Better Responsible Design program, which was created to offer a diverse group of 20 designers access to industry experts and professional instruction. The focus, according to Pensole, is to equip future designers with tools to create environmentally-conscious work.

The designers will come from both HBCUs and art and design colleges throughout the country, as well as “gifted amateurs who are looking to break into the footwear space.” When completed, Pensole stated the students will leave with a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities of working with natural fibers, offered by Allbirds product leaders, as well as information on how to design with carbon intensity in mind. Also, they will experience the Color Material Accelerated program from MLab at Pensole.

“I first started Pensole to open up some of the same opportunities I’ve had throughout my career to students whose talent might have otherwise been overlooked,” Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards said in a statement. “We’re encouraged to see Allbirds invest in the potential of these designers and look forward to working together to help spur a sustainable revolution in design.”

The program is eight weeks, and two people will be chosen for a three-month internship with Allbirds. Here, Pensole said they will “work to refine their knowledge of the sustainable design space and explore bringing their ideas from the course to reality.” Pensole explained that people in the program could potentially help ideate, design and develop actual Allbirds shoes.

“The next generation of designers will be instrumental in developing the kind of innovative solutions required to push the footwear industry toward a more sustainable future,” Allbirds co-founder and co-CEO Tim Brown said in a statement. “It’s of the utmost importance that we create an inclusive space for creative ingenuity to flourish, and we could not have found a better partner than PENSOLE to help us achieve this goal.”

Applications will be accepted now through May 24. The course starts June 7.

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