Founder and Principal, archiTEXT
Faculty, Design, OCAD University
One of CBC’s “12 Young Leaders Changing Canada”
Zahra Ebrahim is the Founder and Principal of the design think tank and creative agency, archiTEXT. Born in Kenya, raised in Vancouver, and educated at McGill University in Montreal, she started archiTEXT at 22 years old as a place to bring together diverse groups to tackle the intersections of architecture and design with social change, to explore the impact of design and creativity on systems change, and to engage the public in a discourse of design and design thinking as a mechanism for creative problem solving. At 24, Zahra was invited to teach at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in the Think Tank program, getting the next generation of designers asking complex questions of themselves and the world around them. She is also the co-lead on the Community. Design. Initiative., a legacy project engaging some of Canada’s most marginalized youth in architecture and design in Toronto’s priority neighborhoods.
Zahra spent two years serving as Innovator in Residence at Canada’s National Design Museum, the Design Exchange. In recent years she has become increasingly committed to exploring the space where design, creativity, and play engage with systems change, sparking initiatives that create conversation and activate innovation. Zahra is the co-founder of the Design Walk-In – a storefront design health clinic launched in 2012 and opening in cities across the globe, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, a Strategic Partner of the Canadian team for the Venice Biennale 2012, and is actively involved in Jane’s Walks – specifically exploring bakery architecture.
In her spare time, Zahra is the Toronto Editor of the Community Lover’s Guide to the Universe, an Advisor for Architecture for Humanity Toronto, and a volunteer snowboard instructor with the Ontario Track3 Association. She has served as the Chair of Outreach for the Couchiching Institute of Public Affairs and a member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group.
Her work has been featured in Luminato, Come Up To My Room, Nuit Blanche, Toronto Design Offsite, TEDxTalks, as well as on CBC, The Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. She has been the recipient of several innovation and entrepreneurship awards internationally, most recently as one of the Global Knowledge Partnership’s Top 100 Young Global Social Entrepreneurs.
Zahra speaks extensively on engaging design, creativity and play for impact.