Tag Archives: Design Thinking

Alum Jessie Kawata merges design thinking and rocket science as NASA JPL’s visual strategist

Jessie Kawata is a visual strategist at NASA + JPL

Jessie Kawata applies design thinking to scientific quandries at NASA + JPL












Jessie Kawata (BFA, Product ’11) is a Visual Strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she gets to stare into space for a living. This term she is teaching a Saturday High class at Art Center as well as mentoring students in Product Design’s Design for Sustainability 2 Studio class, which includes a NASA JPL theme using JPL’s Earth Mission and Climate Sciences data. Below she describes how she helps pave the way for design to exist in space exploration.

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Uses of mapping (and failure) in design: The Toyota Lecture Series hosts theorist Peter Hall at Art Center

Peter Hall

Peter Hall

The second installment of Art Center’s Toyota Lecture Series delivers a distinctly a wide-angle perspective on the present and future state of design, tracking its evolving and expanding impact and application. Design writer and educator, Peter Hall will present a talk on Thursday, October 9 at the Los Angeles Times Media Center at 7:30 pm.

The uses of Failure. Mapping as a design process.” “Weapons of Mass Persuasion: Collaborative Planning with Loaded Tools and Wicked Problems.” “Disassembly & Immateriality: How We Make Stuff Disappear.” This is just a sampling of previous lectures by the relentlessly interesting, Dr. Peter Hall, a design writer and thought-leading authority on the manifold uses of design thinking. Hall is also the design department head at Griffith University Queensland College of Art, where his research focuses on mapping and visualization.

Hall has taught at the University of Texas at Austin and Yale School of Art. He co-edited with Jan Abrams the book, Else/Where: Mapping—New Cartographies of Networks and Territories and worked as a journalist for Metropolis and I.D. Magazine. He wrote and co-edited the books Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist and Sagmeister: Made You Look. In 2005 he co-founded DesignInquiry, a non-profit organization devoted to researching design issues.

Design Thinking Comes to the U.S. Army

Just in time for Memorial Day, an interesting article at Design Observer about the U.S. Army and how it has embraced the concept of design thinking. However, the struggle to get design thinking ensconced in Army doctrine is no easy feat.

From the article: “The core of the Army’s business involves not just maintaining market share or enhancing shareholder value but life versus death, freedom versus oppression. Surprising as it may seem at first blush, the U.S. Army has incorporated design thinking into the core of its battle doctrine — and there is something to learn from its efforts.”

Read more: Design Thinking Comes to the U.S. Army

Design Thinking in India

A very interesting article at Design Observer about design thinking in India. Everyday items such as saris, hand-painted signs and bicycle seats are made with remarkable ingenuity and embellished with great attention to detail.

From the essay: “Design might be thought of as a two-stage process, the functional and the elaborated. First, the functional requirement is fulfilled — a chair, a cup, a lamp, a sari. The process could end with the simple, usable object, but this lowest-common-denominator problem-solving is often not enough for both makers and users, who long for something more profound — an aesthetic ‘adjustment,’ a deliberate attempt to make the functional object beautiful.”

Read more: The Subtle Technology of Indian Artisanship

Together at Last: Design Thinking and Comedy

Bet you haven’t heard of this one before. Professor Peter Robbie’s design thinking class at Dartmouth is using a novel approach to teaching design thinking: improv comedy.

Robbie tells the Dartmouth Engineer: “This class on improv is a tool for brainstorming. I’ve always thought that the quickest and smartest folks at the brainstorming phase of design have been those who do standup and improv. They never say no. They never miss a beat. Improv requires players to accept what they are given, build on the ideas of others, and encourage wild ideas.”

Check out the entire article, it’s a great read.

[Via Core 77]

Improving Health Care Through Design Thinking

UK design firm Priestmangoode has issued the first in a series of manifestos exploring how design thinking could improve products and services. Their inaugural piece is, timely enough, dedicated to health care.

Dezeen reports: “One of the ideas is the Recovery Lounge, a ward where people can recover from minor operations … that borrows ideas from the hotel and airline industries.”

Read more at Dezeen.com and check out a PDF of The Health Manifesto here.

Catching Up with Karen Hofmann

Karen Hofmann, recently appointed Department Chair of Product Design, sat down with us to discuss the future of the department.

As an alumna and educator, Hofmann has developed innovative curriculum—such as DesignStorms,  immersive collaborations of students, faculty and professionals from sponsoring companies—and defined new strategies benefiting the entire College. She has served as director of the Color, Materials and Trends Exploration Laboratory (CMTEL) at Hillside Campus since 2006, and has been on the Art Center faculty since 2001. She was recently named one of the Most Admired Educators of 2010 by DesignIntelligence, published by the Design Futures Council.

Prior to joining Art Center’s faculty, Hofmann held leadership positions at o2studio and Johnson Controls. She graduated from Art Center in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in product design and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge. She served as Acting Chair of the department from 2008 to 2009.

Dotted Line: What do you bring to the Product Design Department as Chair?
Karen Hofmann
: I am deeply committed to upholding the great legacy and strengths of the department. I feel a great sense of responsibility to prepare young designers as creative citizens of the 21st century, and will evolve the program to best prepare our students for meaningful careers that positively impact the world.

DL: What does the future hold for product design in general?
It has gone beyond just producing objects. Today product design is about applying the design process to any number of problems in the world, from social impact challenges to redesigning organizations. The term “design thinking” is very in vogue right now—product designers have led these collaborative and iterative processes for years.  Product designers are responsible for bringing non-designers along in the creative process as they identify and solve problems.

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A Liberal Arts Approach to B-School

Business schools are finally realizing that the development of students’ critical and creative thinking skills is just as important as learning about finance. In the past decade, business executives have realized the value of managers who can think more nimbly across multiple frameworks, cultures and disciplines in a fast-changing, global market.

A very interesting article in the New York Times examines this idea as well as the prominent business schools who have re-evaluated and, in some cases, redesigned their M.B.A. programs around this notion.

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Just What Is this Design Thinking Stuff?

The idea of design thinking is one that has been up for a ton of discussion recently. But what exactly is it?

“Design thinking, as a concept, has been slowly evolving and coalescing over the past decade. One popular definition is that design thinking means thinking as a designer would, which is about as circular as a definition can be,” writes Roger Martin.

Read an excerpt from his book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage—and the colorful commentary that follows—at Design Observer.