xplane_5XPLANE continues to make ripples in Portland’s design community, and our latest milestone is the launch of a no-cost Designer Training Program. The Designer Training Program is targeted at senior-level designers and consists of a series of three-hour evenings and culminates in a day-long session with a pro-bono client (to provide a live-fire experience). The aim is to give PDX designers practical, hands-on skills to advance their careers—using “design-thinking” skills, which XPLANE has been practicing for more than 20 years.

“Design-thinking” has become a business buzzword, but it’s not well understood. So the first goal of the Designer Training Program is to explore what design thinking really means to designers and then share and practice with exercises and tools—the ones XPLANE uses with its clients—to make design-thinking real.

For many designers this can be nothing short of a revelation. It’s an opportunity to move from a reactive to a more proactive role. Designers are natural problem solvers. But many are relegated to waiting for the client to tell them what they want. Our Designer Training Program empowers designers to take advantage of opportunities to co-create solutions with clients, which serves them better and feels more natural. It’s also far more engaging and fun.

Why free? The Designer Training Program is part of XPLANE’s open-source approach to work and how we engage our community. We share how we work because we believe this isn’t an exclusive, niche skill. These methods can benefit everyone and we’d like to see them adopted more broadly. After all, we’ve seen the results first hand.

”Designer training at XPLANE was like right brain calisthenics. It was active, participatory, collaborative, and dynamic—like a boot camp of visual thinking.” – Jen Wick, creative director at Jen Wick Studios