Posts filed under ‘Design Research’

Methods: Personas, have you ever though where they came from?

ImagePic: Workshop I carried out at Stanford with Chilean incubators [CM]

Palo Alto, CA: Since I am here at Stanford as a VR, at the Center for Design Research, I’ve seen students carry out methods like “Brainstorming“, “Rapid Prototyping” and “Personas“. I would like to comment on the “personas” tool. Students learn how to make them, but do they know where they come from? It is in my belief that students or recipients of this teaching should learn the sources of these techniques. Why? Because you get to know the place where to search for more information or for understanding the rationale behind it. This situation would enable the learners to reconfigure their way of applying the methods yet in a more informed way. ImagePic: Cooper 

Making archetypes coming from ethnographic or qualitatively inspired research is not something new to the fields of Anthropology or Sociology. But it was Alan Cooper, the “humanizer of technology”, so he indicates in his website, the one that “pioneered the use of personas as practical interaction design tools to create high-tech products that address user’s needs” . (more…)


December 7, 2011 at 7:43 pm 6 comments

Electronic Colloquium on Design Thinking Research

Source: ECDTR

This amazing source of information on Design Research is available online at the “Electronic Collquium on design Thinking Research” .

The idea of this colloquium is to foster the widespread and interchange of ideas coming from research done in the Design Thinking area. One of the most interesting things is that it has an explicit interdisciplinary focus, that not many scientific journals have. As they state: “the main focus of Design Thinking Research and the ECDTR is to understanding why Design Thinking has been so successful in the past and how this successful method can be supported and further enhanced in the future.” Check it out by clicking here.

June 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

A Framework for Design Education: Download past key papers

The Design and Technology Association [DATA] and “The Design Education Research Group” at Loughborough University‘s Design School have put together critical papers from the 70’s and 80’s from individuals like Bruce Archer [Prof.Design Research Royal College of Arts in London], in order to build the basis of what has been written about design education. We need to know our past in order to plan our future. Download the papers for free here.

April 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

AIGA Design/Education conference: Yay! the content is up

The AIGA conference on education and design just ended. Hosted by NC State’s Graphic Design program, it became to be the start point for a serious redefinition of the Designer’s practice. Some of the speakers and participants included: John Thackara [Doors of Perception, Social Economies and Sustainability], Dori Tunstall [Swinburne University, Design Anthropologist], Rick Robinson [E-Lab, Sapient, Continuum– Collaboration], Sharon Poggenpohl [Ex IIT, Hong Kong Poytechnic, DEsign Integrations and a Design Research culture from scratch], Shelley Evenson [Ex Carnegie Mellon, now Microsoft Social – Service Design], David Small [MIT Media Lab, now Small Design Firm], (more…)

October 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Interview to Michelle Sadler-Chilean medical anthro: collaboration, public policies and designers doing research part 2

Figure 1: My students [some are now colleagues]: Giovanna Roa, Margarita Ruiz-Tagle, Gabriela Warner &  Nicole Cristi organizing an applied qualitative research activity.

For Michelle Sadler, it is important to go with open questions into the field. With a broad thinking: “If you go with a rigid frame, related to the possibilities you have in the head, you don’t allow the innovation or the novelty to arise. You don’t go thinking out of the box. You need to see from other perspectives”. For her, it is important to communicate with people. She has changed the word patient for user to leave some common assumptions [in the biomedical area] behind. “…Many times, what happens in research is that researchers or people go with an assumption, with a pre-designed idea, so instead of going to raise new things, you go to check on what you want to find”. This anthropologist believes people can find whatever they want to because reality is complex, so the researcher has to be careful with the type of questions he addresses. “A research should be more open, it should allow that people tell you everything without placing categories a priori. The categories should raise in situ”. It is evident for her that it is a limitation of the quantitative approach, overall in the surveys, as they abolish the possibility of creating or obtaining new insights. Still she rectifies the idea of using the quantitative approach to tackle particular sections of the study. It should depend of the research design, but it is important to note that a qualitative approach can use small samples and yet achieve very relevant and innovative findings.

Cooperation is present in all the areas of Sadler’s work. Apart from collaborating internationally, as an academic in University, she collaborates with academics from other areas, social scientists and medicine. On her consultant firm she does share work with psychologists and sociologists. And in both of these areas, academy and private practice, she generates deliverables working with designers and also biomedical personnel: “in the FONIS (Fondo Nacional Investigación en Salud) were doctors, midwives, designers, architects, photographers, social workers, a super mixed group from social sciences, health and arts”. Methods for her rely in the assumption that you have to connect with people: “…try to connect in a more intimate way”. She believes in micro strategies: “the macro strategies don’t talk to people, they talk to a group that is too large and heterogeneous. They don’t touch the fiber, they don’t say: this is important to you because I understand what you are thinking, I communicate with you”. For her research, Michelle quotes a lot. It is relevant because she believes people can identify themselves with another person’s experience: “ Ah, this person went through the same I am”. It has to do with her case orientation to elaborate the manuals. People can see how other have changed and have gone through the same difficulties. She uses ethnography: “Ethnographic work implies transfer yourself to another context, being there, it’s a combination of techniques. It is observing, chatting, looking for material formats people use, meaningful contexts”.
Figure 2:
Designer Margarita Ruiz-Tagle her product development and testing as a student at PUC

For Michelle, it is essential to connect with people to design solutions for (more…)

May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm 1 comment

Interview to Michelle Sadler-Chilean medical anthro: collaboration, public policies and designers doing research part 1

Figure 1: Pages from Michelle’s FONIS Manual
[Interview done in 11.2009]
Michelle Sadler
is well known in Latin America because of her work on “medicalization”, overall of childbirth. I particularly know her because of our “related research” for the public policy related to the first infancy protection program “Chile Crece Contigo” [See related post]. Michelle puts the standards high, in research and in the understanding of people for the design of public programs and policies. This young professor at Universidad de Chile, master in Medical Anthropology from Oxford University, has several publications on this matter. Her work is ideologically applied. For translating her anthropological research into concrete applications she works essentially with people from arts, design and biomedical backgrounds. An example of this is the successful manual for “Revision of personalized Child Delivery”, a FONIS project that entails information for all the parties engaging in the modality of empowering of women during childbirth [Download]. Not a very different desire from the women under attention in the “public system”. They just needed a service that accomplished the same standards or possibility the private clinics in Chile offer. This particularly well-designed and friendly guide for the biomedical community shows one format in which design-anthropology alliances can work for public and social scenarios. It was done by working with stakeholders and all of the parties “touched” by the program. This interview is about Michelle’s work and her appreciations over collaboration, anthropology and social sciences understanding communities, public policies, applied work and design engaging research. Michelle was already giving classes and being part of research projects at Universidad de Chile when she left for Oxford. Today, she gives classes at the faculty of medicine and the social sciences faculty, where she also is involved in basic research and publications. On the other hand, Michelle also works as an entrepreneur. She created an interdisciplinary consultancy firm called Cultura Salud” (Health Culture).

An academic with a very applied approach on the Chilean health context According to Sadler, anthropology is in a moment of arousal in Chile and the World: (more…)

May 3, 2010 at 4:44 am Leave a comment

Tools: Designing interaction, “making” participation happen for public policies and other enterprises

Figure 0: Card sorting and information display from my students [Kyun Hur, Celise Bravo-Taylor NC State]
As I’ve pointed out in this blog before, designers have the skills to provide tangible solutions to interaction problems. In an interview made to her, professor Amy Smith from MIT indicated: “I’m often frustrated by conferences where the results are just presentations, posters and papers. The output of this conference will be real devices, things that people can use. Participants will be able to take prototypes home with them and start testing them”. This, to me, is absolutely true. And that is one of the interests in why other disciplines are engaging with design: “the making of ideas”. We can see business schools engaging the so-called “design thinking” in Stanford’s D-School [Engineering, social sciences & business around design] the MBA at California College of the Arts or Design Thinking at Rotman School of management in the University of Toronto . There are even some schools interested in working out their public policies as a service experiences driven by design. Why is this? Why are business and PP people getting in touch with design? Figure 01: Game I designed as a researcher in Procorp
Well, design has this articulated way to bring ideas into tangible solutions. But what if we don’t use it for understanding and providing solutions for consumers? What if we use it to work with social problems? Well, we are already doing it. Design is effective in putting down ideas, creating a common language between individuals and articulating needs and goals through “making” things tangible.This design quality of “making” can also be used for research and for participation enhancement.

In my own work, I’ve design methods and tools to communicate effectively with participants. Psychologist and anthropologist Elizabeth Sanders has been working in genera­tive tools , for collective creativity. She was a pioneer in participative methods in the design field. For her, design should serve people, not markets. She talks about co-designing and how to elicit the design abilities that is inherent to every human being. She defines a four-step evolu­tion graphic to reflect the new approach to people. The first step (see image) understands designers as users, this, related to the 1980’s approach related to the Xerox Parc interest in achieving user friendly product. Later, as she sees it, there are design-serving adapt­ers. (more…)

April 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm 2 comments

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Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
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Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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