Leyla Acaroglu

Sustainability Innovator

2016
Champion of the Earth

Science and Innovation

About Leyla Acaroglu

Design is a fundamental and profoundly influential practice, but it struck me just how little awareness there is of the incredibly influential force that the designed world has on us all—we can use design to create positive change so the future works better for all of us.

Leyla Acaroglu instigates positive environmental and social change through innovation. A New York-based Australian designer, social scientist, and sustainability expert, she is internationally recognized as a leader in the use of disruptive design across sustainability and educational initiatives. Her mainstage TED Talk has collected over one million views, making it one of the most watched TED Talks on sustainability.

In 2014, Acaroglu completed her PhD in change-centric disruptive design and started developing the Disruptive Design Method, which is the backbone of her unique approach to design-led social change. She has won a host of awards for her work, was named one of Melbourne’s 100 Most Influential People, and has been forging positive change through creative practice in multiple ways for over a decade. Her systems-based thinking coupled with her highly-skilled communication techniques has featured in several publications, including the New York Times.

Acaroglu is the founder of two design agencies, Disrupt Design in New York and Melbourne-based Eco Innovators, and a rebellious experimental knowledge lab, the UnSchool, which sets out to disrupt the usual ways that knowledge is gained and shared. It runs innovative pop-up programs around the world and recently won a CORE77 Design Education Initiative Award.

As a designer, her works such as Design Play Cards, Game Changer Game, Secret Life of Things, Designercise, and the AIGA Gender Equity Toolkit, are at the forefront of activated experience design. She has authored several handbooks for change makers and continues to agitate for new ways of solving complex social problems through beautifully designed interventions.

Often referred to as ‘The Doctor of Change’, Acaroglu’s creative work is highly acclaimed, featuring in a permanent exhibition in the Leonardo da Vinci museum in Milan and earning commissions from the National Gallery of Victoria.