Description: The early stages of the design process are often ambiguous and complex. In this phase designers discover, learn and gather much information about the audience, culture and the context they are designing for. Through the synthesis of data their goal is to learn as much as possible about all stakeholder perspectives, activities and constraints involved in the design situation in order to identify and prioritize design problems. This paper examines the value of visual storytelling methods in the early stages of the design process to enhance the identification of design opportunities, validate assumptions and improve design decision-making when designing for an optimal user experience. To help evaluate the potential benefits of visual storytelling methods a case study has been conducted with fourth year Interaction Design students at Emily Carr University involved in designing a patient tracking system using radio frequency identification technology for the BC Children's Hospital Emergency Department. This research explores storytelling as a visualization tool for translating, interpreting, verifying and communicating data collected from diverse user communities to build a better understanding of the context and circumstances surrounding complex design challenges involving multiple stakeholders.
Description: As part of a two-year collaboration with over 100 students in grade 4-7 classrooms at Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School (KGMS), this thesis project introduced design-based learning as a new pedagogic approach for supporting children with learning differences. Design-based learning is the integration of design into classrooms as a means to support the learning of other subjects, skills and knowledge. It considers design as an approach to teaching and learning, not as its own subject of study. There is growing recognition that our current educational methods and approaches need to equip children with important skills including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. The BC Ministry of Education is currently in the process of transforming the curriculum to emphasize the development of these skills as core competencies (BC Ministry of Education, 2015, p.8). The use of design as an approach to fostering these skills is gaining momentum in education discussions across North America. However, despite the growth of knowledge and research in the area of education reform, design continues to evade integration in mainstream K12 education due to a lack of available resources and training for teachers. This document outlines the process of developing such materials. Through observations, conversations and the results of a pre- and post-design assessment the classroom teachers at KGMS saw profound benefits to the use of design as an approach to learning. To facilitate this approach, resource materials were developed to support teachers and a design coaching model was introduced as a way to provide ongoing, sustained professional development for teachers in the area of design-based learning.
Description: Since the mid-1970s, 3D printing has been used as an ideation tool by industry. Recently, broad access to 3D printers and other digital manufacturing technologies has delivered these tools to artists, designers, crafters, and makers, enabling us to expand, develop, and challenge our concepts of approaches to cultural production. This design study looks at new production paradigms emerging from access to digital manufacturing, and explores approaches to creating in the digital manufacturing context. This study focuses on emergent modes of creation using glass, in particular how 3D printing not only provides room for innovation with material production, but also extends the poetics of materials. The bases for these conclusions are founded in a practice-led study, which developed workflows that incorporate both 3D printing and traditional glass working techniques. This practice-led study led into a course-led study which used the previously gained material knowledge to develop a new approach to digital manufacturing, taught in a third-year design course at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. A reflective practice throughout these studies served to inform the codification of an emergent method and approach to glassmaking within the context of digital manufacturing.
Description: The modern workspace is constantly evolving; what is in store for the future of how and where we work? Workspace creators need to provide a variety of activity landscapes intended for specific activities, and accessible to all. One size, one design, does not fit all! This thesis explores possibilities of connecting generations by transforming the traditional workspace to accommodate the ever-blurring boundaries between the workspace, hospitality spaces and the home spaces with the infusion of sophisticated modularity. Four generations contribute to today’s work environment including Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Post Millennials. All of these generations have different expectations, values and motivations about their work environments. How can we become attuned to this emerging generation of workspace users, who often have very different ideas about how work should get done? Moreover, this thesis analyzes the integration and emphasis of work/life balance, workspace flexibility and user wellbeing, reinforced ideas generated through an open design processes, and explores how co-creation can facilitate the diffusion of innovation within an organization’s common workspaces known as lounge space. This thesis builds upon an existing product portfolio of office furniture by implementing human centered design through co-creation, and finding inspiration for innovation through heuristic methodologies in order to inform design decisions. With an emphasis on workspace ideologies and theories, exciting propositions based on design principles and workspace psychology, such as the incorporation of sophisticated modularity, lounge-as-office principles, prioritizing play, and supporting working happy, provide interesting insights into this research. This collection of artifacts provides functional and flexible characteristics while being attractive enough to be enjoyed outside of workspaces.
Description: This body of work presents a series of design propositions that seek to address notions of contemporary sexuality in the Western world, particularly in urban North America and Europe. Our evolved sex and love drives find themselves confronted with an ever-changing cultural landscape where sexual norms are enforced and underly- ing instincts are sometimes used for the advancement of agendas and financial gain. Critical theorists and designers translate and expose the existence and operations of ideology, patriarchy, and the unconscious. Using a ‘research through design’ approach and pulling from attitudes and methodologies found in the realm of ‘critical design’ I present a sequence of explorations that are meant to act as proposals, as vessels through which people can reach their own interpretations and opinions about the influence of media culture on how we think about sex, how we have it, and how we talk about it.
Description: As a designer, I have been identified as problem-solver, and rarely as problem-identifier. Designers have the opportunity to make a significant difference in society, and help in the development of conscious citizens from a wide range of cultures and languages. Intercultural interaction has increased within this globalized community, and it has become part of our lives. As a foreign communication designer, I have identified the importance of intercultural understanding, so we don’t alienate each other, and help develop shared experiences and collaborative projects when the same language, time and/or space may not be shared. This research study promotes the exploration of the process of a designer becoming a researcher and a thinker who collaborates within a multicultural community. It is an extended exploration of my previous experience collaborating for Mátika Magazine within an international group of designers, visual artists and writers. Therefore, it explores the different possibilities that hybrid design brings to a stream of creative disciplines, and how this diversity can be used as a tool to expand the relationship between space, culture and creativity. Within this paper, I describe the process and outcomes of developing the project Inlak’esh Alaken. This project took form with an event hosted at the same time in three different cities: Vancouver, Guadalajara and Los Angeles. By pushing further the possibilities of online network services, a live video of each event was streamed online and projected in each place. Within this project, I practice the research of different technologies to create urban art as an exploration of new ways to communicate between different cultures. Therefore, every participant in each city shared the same performance with the use of Graffiti Wall and Laser Tag. With the use of these tools of non-verbal communication, the participants were asked to interact with the others and communicate at the same time in different places. Within this research and the process of my work, I aim to push the boundaries of traditional communication design, and share a body of knowledge that might help other communication designers in the process of becoming researchers and agents of social change. I share the process of becoming a visual journalist, and how we as designers can develop a method of documentation that accounts for the moods and concerns of our society, bridging different environments and translating the outcomes into seductive graphics of information.
Description: This thesis details my journey of learning how to design in partnership with nature. This process took place in sequence; increasing the distance from home: the front yard, the park, and finally in remote wilderness. All of these places demanded full body attention, producing rich experiences that were unpredictable, thought provoking and brimming with content for creativity. I experimented with the boundary of control between designer and nature, inviting nature to engage with me through experiential prototypes that probed the division or relationship between design and nature. I learned how some of the tools and mindsets of a designer supported this engagement or hindered it. I offer a method for designers who wish to connect more fully to nature in their work, called Earthbond Prototyping. Earthbond prototyping borrows from experience prototyping, designing to produce engagement “between people, places and objects that unfold over time” (Buchenau et al, 2000 p.431). I use the skills and techniques of design to navigate boundaries between aspects of the natural world to recognize new relationships between design and nature. More than ever designers need to instinctually allow environmental ethics, and principles held within nature, to inform and challenge their design decisions.
Description: In this study, I investigate the application of active learning approaches, with the help of call and mall frameworks. These interactive learning solutions emphasize learner-created content, with the goal of improving the vocabulary development of grade 7 students. It is assumed that the use of computer and mobile technologies can increase the capacity for learning vocabulary. With a concept prototype, that demonstrates the translation of a textually based Language Arts lesson plan into a visual paradigm for active learning, I create a more porous and malleable language learning model for the Google Generation. My hypothesis is that this prototype will benefit the learning of Language Arts for 7th grade students. Such an instrument could ultimately provide students with the opportunity to engage in knowledge creation and sharing across formal and informal learning environments. The methodology used for this thesis essay begins with defining a problem by utilising both academic and qualitative studies. This is followed by the collecting of evidence from alternative learning approaches, which are defined by their various strengths and deficiencies through product analysis, case studies and theoretical grounds. The essay concludes with a proposed design and concept prototype testing, which I have called The Language Learning Activity Paradigm (llap).
Description: This thesis investigates interactive and engaging learning experiences to teach fundamentals of typography to anyone who otherwise does not have any formal education of typography. The thesis uses two different approaches to do so–one where learning outcomes and objectives are direct, and another in which they are indirect. The first approach explores games that can be used to effectively educate users about the fundamentals of typography, like anatomy of type by understanding the structure of letterforms, and classification of typography. The second approach investigates how an app might be used to learn about typography from a user’s surroundings. Design research methods include a studio-based approach, where evaluative testing and observational trials were core sources of insights. Other methods include interviews, surveys and precedent reviews. These insights further inform studio prototypes of varying fidelities and ultimately, final mockups for the proposed forms of engagement. Thus, this project hopes to make typography accessible to everyone who is interested in learning about typography by using a variety of physical and digital mediums.
Description: In the midst of a time where many concurrent shifts in cultures and technologies are shaping the future of work in unexpected ways, Designing Indeterminacy looks at the interior design of the contemporary workplace and considers its limitations. Through practice-led research this project attempts to understand everyday work experience of users. Participatory design methods are used to investigate the spatial limitations that knowledge workers today are facing in the contemporary work environment; a lack of user autonomy caused by the prescribed use of designed workspaces, and insufficient spatial integration of work-life concerns. The theoretical underpinnings of Liminality and Indeterminacy and their conceptual and lived connections to the workplace design are explored and considered as a means of mitigating such issues. Through hands-on making, the intersections of Liminality and the interior design process of workspaces are materialized. Designed artifacts enable a look into the ways that undetermined in-between spaces can empower users to better navigate their workplace. The designed artifact, its conceptual meaning and potential use are discussed with the intention to facilitate conversations and concerns around issues opened up and addressed throughout the research.
Description: Hello, My Other Self is a personal journey of discovery. As a Māori who is seeking cultural kinship, my first integral questions are “ko wai au”, who am I? and “no hea au”, where do I come from? As a Māori designer I look to my whakapapa, reminding me of where I come from, the stories of our people and what makes te ao Māori unique. Māori design and Māori culture are so closely interwoven that it is impossible to consider these two concepts separately. The backbone of my exploration of woven process fuses customary māoritanga holding steadfast to the blessings of Papatūānuku from inception with contemporary form and practice. Creating narratives of whakapapa, through the intangible knowledge of ancestry that I embody in my being, connecting maker, materials and artifact. Pursuing this praxis focuses on deepening an understanding of my culture through engaging the notion and dissecting the meaning of weaving as a design practice from material based exploration, to the woven process, to sustainability, where I, as Māori, am considered the medium. The eternal thread or te aho tapu is the genealogical line, the first and sacred line of weaving that guides me on this journey. Te aho tapu in māoridom is our connection to the past, acknowledging this is personally and culturally important as in our concept of time we cannot separate ourselves from our tūpuna or the generation in front of us.This journey is a reflective exploration of material characteristics, creating cloth, a korowai, a blanket of culture, in te ao Pākehā culture, seeking ways I can culturally embrace and sustain culture in today’s world through Māori forms of design. Intrinsically engaging with harakeke and natural fibres that share similar foundational relationships such as flax, buffalo and sheep wool. The use of these materials enhances the cultural values, asserting sustainability of Māori epistemological notions of practice and meaning into my design. I am weaving my story metaphorically, culturally and physically.
Description: Sound is a prominent feature of our urban environment, affecting us in many ways. Studies show that sound levels in cities are increasing every year. Considering the fact that our well-being is closely related to everyday sound, there is an apparent interconnection between them. Active listening to the surrounding acoustic environment offers the ability to appreciate sounds and articulate auditory needs having an impact on our well-being. Being aware of sound and expressing what we want to hear can lead to tangible transformation and change in our urban acoustic environment and space. This thesis explores the potential of sound visualization and the representation of auditory information as a means of enhancing perception about urban sounds in our daily interactions. Through practice-based design research, studies in sound and music visualization with a focus on perception of shapes and semiotics, the main body of this work intends to gain insights into sound perception and its potential relationship with visual form. This research led to the creation of ‘Right Hear’, a map depicting the evolving soundscapes of Vancouver. ‘Right Hear’ aims to invite users to explore their own acoustic sense of place and become aware of the urban sounds by offering the ability to simultaneously listen and see sounds on a visual map. In parallel with this, the body of this work led to a series of exercises in the notation of sound and translation of graphic scores that looks into the ways that people from diverse fields of practice perceive, translate and respond to abstract shapes.