Lecture at UNC-CH on ‘Design Thinking’

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After a decade away in Europe and the Northwest, I moved to the Southeast and back to my home state of North Carolina.

So many things came, of that.

In Seattle, DK (my design studio) picked up jargon like ‘agile design’ and ‘rapid prototyping’. It’s natural. You’re in a tech town and it’s like that. Because I’m an engineer by training I could jam with people in this way. We talked the talk that comes with making, making processes. Workflows. Designing the way you design, whilst in the midstream. It’s just how it is.

We learned from those folks. And a lot, about how to use tools that are there to be used. To make, to make quickly, and see what sticks.

Design thinking with DK

This way of thinking is now really trendy, with groups who are not designers or engineers, but can see that it leads to some new thinking. New precipitates. And they are curious.

They want to know about ‘design thinking.’

DK was a design studio for a decade before returning to Durham NC.

So naturally we brought a lot of experience to the table, with our new clients. They almost all came through the blog. It was amazing and curious. I think that’s, too, how we got the request to come to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to do a talk, on ‘Design Thinking.’

Being me, I said yes.

It was still a time of deep exploring for DK, too, as we were changing from a design studio into a consulting one. Why not?

They loved it.

A good afternoon, with lots of sharing. I was flattered to read the university’s writeup on their blog, afterwards, which you can find archived here.

The agenda was on the flipboard, and it looked like this:

. What do you hope to gain from this today?
. Short exercise #1
. Walk around exercise #2
. ?

Our homemade and tested-with-each-new-client methodology was, curiously, exactly in alignment with a more theoretical thing called ‘Human Centered Design.’ You google that and you see a ton of people trying to sell you courses, but you know what?

It’s really about doing. For me.

Doing and making and trying it, and seeing how to make it better.

This is my fiftieth attempt, I think, at trying to showcase the ‘who I am and what I do’ stuff, here at this website. A work in progress. Iterations.

It’s fine. It’s how things design themselves, when you let the concept show itself to you.

Doing it like this was not cheekiness.

It was just the process of what design thinking and creating really is like, as you explore it, with people in real life on the spot, together.

That’s what I’m doing even today, just with a different set of tools.

Most often, paper.

Photo: Victor Ng / Seattle 2009