Sunday, May 16, 2010

Design Research Conference 2010

"In its 9th year, DRC will be a conversation about the new frontiers of design research. It will host the world’s most compelling stories about the human condition and unmet needs. It will be a stimulating place to learn the most innovative new research methods. It will address the challenges facing the industry head on. Finally, it will continue to explore how design research can help us address the grand challenge of bringing meaningful things into the world."

10 insights on What's Next?

1. Be A Translator

Don Norman, author of Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design, discussed the great gulf between design research and design practice. His solution: we must fill this gap with a new discipline of transitional engineers taking the knowledge gathered from design research and translating it to practical and reliable design solutions.

Helen Fraser, Director of Design Intiative at the Rotman School of Management, discussed the ways human centered design can act as a common ground within an organization. However, to create shared understanding, design research must be translated into clear visualizations.

2. Work Slower, Charge More

Anthropologist Gerald Lombardi discussed the commoditization of design research. More companies want more ethnographic research in shorter time frames than ever. We must insist on slowing things down to ensure quality research.

3. Rethink Failure & Iteration

"If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" - Albert Einstein

Eric Wilmot, Director of Innovation at Wolff Olins, argued that companies must understand that failure is not expensive, negative, or "the end", but affordable, positive, and the beginning. Using the Marshmellow Challenge as an example, Wilmot showed the importance of iteration in the process of design and innovation.

4. Research 360º

Ron Pierce, Director of Strategy and Research at Stuart Karten Design, argued that the way to "make sure what we learned at the beginning is delivered at the end" is to extend end-user design research from a beginning phase to an ongoing process.

5. Embrace New Tools

Design Research Professor Kim Erwin discussed the way the internet is radically changing the way we conduct ethnographic research. According to Erwin, new internet and cellphone tools have transformed on-site field research from a necessity to an option.

6. Understand and Influence Behavior

Graduate students at IIT Institute of Design studying Behavioral Economics understand that people don't always do what they say and are often irrational. In order to make behavioral economics actionable in design practice, they have created a Brains, Behavior, and Design Toolkit.

7. Work With Your Ears

Editor of Core77 Allan Chochinov discussed the importance of learning to truly listen. When teaching undergraduate designers phone interview skills, Chochinov reminds them to ask "What question have I neglected to ask you?" and "Are there two other people you suggest I talk to?" He reminds them to reach out to others as much as possible, because often it just takes "one person to inspire great design work."

9. Overcome Assumptions

Erica Eden, Industrial Designer at Smart Design's Femme Den, explores the assumptions and realities about women. With women making or influencing 80% of all purchases, Eden says companies shouldn't rely on "Shrinking and Pinking" their products when designing for women. In order to overcome assumptions, we must confront them.

10. Empower People, Design for Impact

Kevin Starr invests in entrepreneurs designing for the bottom billion and making a real impact. When designing for people in poverty, he says, you can't rely on a good idea or cool design. You've got to obsess about distribution and make sure it works.

Tim Brown, head of IDEO, argues that solving society's biggest problems requires large scale behavior change. We must move beyond the mass production of products and into design that "empowers people to be designers of their own lives." By working to place design thinking into the hands of everyone, we can inspire change, help people overcome their limitations, and change the world.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. Great insights: clear, compelling and actionable.

    Of particular cogency for me were insights 2, 3, & 5. And I'd certainly like to hear more on the necessity vs option argument re: on-site field research.