For His Eyes Only

Are women being left behind by the biased design of VR experiences?   It was a fresh spring Saturday morning, and I was excited about
the adventure I was about to embark on. I was on my way to try some new “experiences” at a documentary film festival VR pop-up. The
VR documentaries ranged from a 6…

Robot-Centered Design

The Future of User-Centered Design Has a New Kind of Stakeholder You’re a designer. You create products, experiences, services, buildings, and more. Each time you begin the design process, you consider the multitude
 of touchpoints and features of your design and how they will engage with your intended user. This is the logic of the…

I Design, Therefore I Am

(With Apologies to René Descartes)   As a university freshman, I studied philosophy. One of the first thinkers we studied was Aristotle, and for one of the first assignments we had was to answer the question, “Was Aristotle right in saying that the only thing that separates humans from animals is our ability to reason?”…

Thinking Design Thinking, One More Time

This is an updated version of an article 
I wrote in 2007 while waiting for a flight. I think it is time to revisit and update 
this article, as “design thinking” is in a very different state today than it was
 10 years ago, with organizations practicing it to different degrees of maturity. Before my…

The Role of the Ritual

When we build insights, we are trying
 to elevate something that has been observed during anthropological fieldwork into something that has profound meaning for the design process and allows us to identify problems that can be addressed as we build a product or service. This is not always easy, because people are often looking for…

Bizglish: Designed to Disappear

The language of business today is constantly invaded by made-up terms or catchphrases that live and die in newsfeeds, blogs, keynotes, and serious business press like so many semantic mayflies. One minute they’re not there, the next we’re swarmed by them, and – just as suddenly – they disappear. One form of linguistic expression stands…

Inclusive Design: An Interview with Dr. Dori Tunstall

Dr. Dori Tunstall, Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD University and the first black dean of a faculty of design anywhere, is not your typical design leader.
 Dr. Tunstall, who comes to her current work with a PhD in anthropology, has a history of founding and participating in initiatives that strive to decolonize…

Indigenous Innovation

In our results-driven society, we tend to search for new solutions to challenges, finding ways to make incremental changes in our daily lives to battle the changes we want to see. Could it be, that some of the solutions to our current challenges can be inspired by the wisdom, ingenuity, and sustainable principles that our…

The Principles of Design

Four Elements to Make Your Product More Relevant Over the past 20 years, I’ve had experiences or offered services within a wide range of jobs. My first taxable income came from working for McDonald’s in Schertz, Texas, just north of my high school on I-35. From there, I went onto selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, working…

Informality and Nostalgia in Urban Space

Low-income urban communities are well-documented but poorly understood. When North American housing projects and British council estates appear in pop culture and the news media, more often than not they are portrayed as bleak, dangerous places. Worse yet, plans to redevelop these communities are often influenced (to varying degrees) by these same biases. This needs…

What is Sound Design?

Sound design is the art and practice of creating, collecting, adapting, and producing audio elements. Like any other type of design, sound design is a process that involves turning an idea into an outcome. What makes sound design different are the tools used in that process. Whereas a graphic designer’s toolkit includes typography, images, and…

Designing Meaningful Customer Experiences

A Challenge From the World of Genomics Imagine scientists researching and exploiting naturally occurring genetic variations in order to ensure food challenging, impossible even – but that is the mission that LGC’s genomics division has set for itself. In doing so, the division has grown rapidly, both organically and through acquisition, leaving it with a…

Convergent Evolution: A Design Lesson

Design and evolution. To a scientist, using these two words in the same sentence borders on offensive, as it conjures up notions of intelligent design and other pseudoscience. I’m not even sure I would have ever contemplated this article until my recent immersion in the world of design. Illustration: Jennifer Backman…

A New Layer in History

Mexico City and the Quest for Socially Responsible Transformation Through Design Alejandro González Iñárritu, the Oscar-winning director behind The Revenant and Birdman, once said that his native Mexico City is “this big, complex monster of a city that has always had real problems and needs,” going on to explain that he’s “always found [his] way…

The Human in Humanitarian Innovation

Transformational innovation – the sort of thing that turns traditional paradigms and models of thinking upside down and inside out – is, quite frankly, rare. It takes an enormous amount of risk, vision, and necessity for an organization to reinvent itself. While such reinvention has happened in the corporate world when companies faced extinction or…