Designing Things for Humans

Architects and urbanists are good at responding to briefs. Traditional design briefs are conceived as abstractions of perceived needs, specifications or market opportunities. The resulting solutions work for contexts where economy or the designer\’s vision rules, but often fall short in responding to the real needs of people. Considerations of human factors, worldview, social implications, product lifecycles, etc. call the designer to combine intuition and technical skill with a more ambiguous ability to empathize with users and make their latent needs tangible.

Designing Things for Humans provides an opportunity to answer this call working with subject matter experts from IDEO. Through a study of the human-centered design process we will develop methods to realize a semester-long design project framed by user needs and their context. This will include an immersive experience of lectures, hands-on workshops, fieldwork and field-trips.

Topics Covered
Research methods, ideation, rapid prototyping, product design methods, designing interactions, storytelling.

Realize a catalog of human-centered product designs that capture the latent needs of humans in given situations; learn and exercise the methods of product and experience; design using the fourth dimension: time; learn to design in the world, not on the world.

The course will begin with a quick workshop highlighting the major themes of to be learned throughout the course. Semester-long projects will be done in cross-discipline teams. Each team will focus on designing for a specific user and context. The designs may assume a range of forms and scales with a preference on tangibility. They may be new products, services, or experiences that appropriately address the user challenges and needs discovered during research. All projects necessitate a final prototype for evaluation and feedback at the end of the course.

Seminar and workshop setting with occasional field trips and guest appearances from subject matter experts.

Participation (blog posts, class discussion) – 25%
Exercises (assignments) – 25%
Final Projects – 50%

All of our research, insights and projects will be documented on the course website.