From Here to There: Design Research Symposium

Recently I was invited to ASU in Tempe, AZ, to participate in a Design Research Symposium called From Here To There, a reference (I think) to moving from questions to answers (or, perhaps, more questions).

I was pleased to be part of such a great lineup of speakers:

  • Dennis Doordan, Editor, Design Issues
  • Laura DeWitt, Research Director, laga Innovation Group
  • Dan Formosa, Smart Design Worldwide
  • Matthew Jordan, Director of Research and Interaction Design, Insight Product Development
  • David Alan Kopec – “DAK”, Associate Professor of Design, Newschool of Architecture and Design
  • Steve Portigal, Principal, Portigal Consulting
  • Meg Portillo, Chair of the Department of Interior Design, University of Florida
  • Altay Sendil, Design Researcher, IDEO
  • Jason Severs, Principal Designer, frog design
  • Susan Winchip, Professor of Interior and Environmental Design, Illinois State University
  • Matt Zabel, Human Factors and Design Research Manager, Brooks Stevens

We heard from people in academia and people in consulting practices, and we learned about culture, education, methodology, a day-in-the-life of a professional design researcher, quantitative approaches, and a lot more.

I gave a plenary address that built on Practicing Noticing Stuff and Telling Stories. The bulk of the talk was different examples of cultural norms and/or design requirements revealed through observations and photographs. Some of those pictures have appeared on this All This ChittahChattah. In a great bit of small-worldness, one of the students in attendance was the very person who had explained (in a previous blog post here) just what was going on in one of my Hong Kong pictures.

Steve talks about poo


I also ran an in-depth workshop on interviewing techniques. In our training work, we’re often using this same material in professional settings where our clients have a little or a lot of experience in using interviewing and observation as a method for gathering insights so it made for a point of contrast to have the discussion with people who are in student mode and who have had very few applied experiences with design research. I’m appreciative of these opportunities to teach a range of people with different skills levels and backgrounds as I think it keeps the material sharp and our approach always fresh.

A smattering of other conference images:
Questions, answers, and dialog

The Incredible Jason Severs


It was a great event, a good group, well organized, and good interactions. There’s a rumor that the talks may be podcast eventually. I’ll update this post if that happens.


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