Emily Pilloton is a designer, builder, educator, author, and founder of the nonprofit design agency Project H Design. Using architecture and design as a vehicle for social justice and public education, she works alongside youth ages 9-18 both in and out of school to bring to life public architecture projects that transform lives and communities. She is particularly invested in using design as a creative voice for young girls and students of color to build change in their own lives, and has mentored over 200 young girls ages 9-17 towards college and careers in STEM-related areas.
Her work within public education has catalyzed schools, teachers, leaders, and school districts to reinvent their pedagogy around creativity and design, connected to core subject content. She has built a farmers market with high school students, a playhouse with and for the daughters of abused mothers, a school library by the hands of its own middle school students, and microhomes for a transitional housing agency.
Now based in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley and Oakland), Emily previously lived and worked in rural North Carolina, where she taught her high school design/build program called Studio H. During her time there, her students designed and built a farmers market in a town of 1500 people, which has since created 4 new businesses and 15 new jobs, and every student who participated in the project has gone on to a college or career related to architecture, design, engineering, or entrepreneurship. The farmers market project and the Studio H course is the subject of the full-length documentary If You Build It, directed and produced by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley.
Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of California Berkeley, and a Master of Fine Arts in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently a Visiting Associate Professor of Design at the University of California Davis, and is the author of two books, Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People, and Tell Them I Built This: Transforming Schools, Communities, and Lives With Design-Based Education. Her work is documented in the full-length film If You Build It.
Eloquent and passionate about her mission, she lectures on the importance of social action and building, the design revolution, design for empowerment, low-tech, hands-on built solutions. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, Forbes, Make Magazine, Fast Company, and more.
Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People
Emily’s book is a compendium and call-to-action for design for social impact. The book features over 100 contemporary design products, such as safer baby bottles, a waterless washing machine, low-cost prosthetics for landmine victims, and much more.
"Design Revolution opens the doors and shows you the power of what smart design can accomplish. The book proves that this is the direction we should all be going in, and Emily Pilloton is going to help get us there."
— Amy Novogratz, TED Prize Director
"Pilloton is a force of nature and Design Revolution is the perfect storm of inspiration, optimism, and ingenuity. This book should be on every designer’s shelf — no, in his or her hands."
— Valerie Casey, Global Practice Head, IDEO; founder, The Designers Accord
- Founder and Executive Director, Project H Design
- Visiting Assistant Professor of Design, UC Davis
- Co-Founder and High School Instructor, Studio H
- Founder and Director, Camp H for girls
- SEED (Social Environmental Economic Design) Award Winner, 2011 and 2015
- Educational Entrepreneur of the Year, International Academy for Educational Entrepreneurship, 2014
- IXDA Interaction Awards: Future Voice Award
- Green Design Award: Advocacy and Community, New York School of Interior Design
- Master of Design (Emerging Generation), Fast Company
- INDEX: Award 2011 Design to Improve Life Finalist
- Former Managing Editor, Inhabitat.com
- Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow, 2009
- Former Adjunct Professor of Designed Objects, the School of Art Institute of Chicago
- Former Adjunct Professor of Design, Illinois Institute of Art
- M.A., in Designed Objects, School of the Art institute of Chicago
- B.A. in Architecture, University of California, Berkeley