Design thinking together : how to share the ‘designerly’ way of looking at things in order to co-create insights relevant to research participants

LEVICK-PARKIN, Melanie and HANSON, Maria (2015). Design thinking together : how to share the ‘designerly’ way of looking at things in order to co-create insights relevant to research participants. In: Design Anthropology Seminar 3: Collaborative Formation of Issues, Moesgard Museum Aarhus Denmark, 22nd-23rd January 2015. (Unpublished)

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The aim of this paper is to discuss how design thinking (and seeing) can be used in a shared, practice led research process in order to ensure that issues are formed collaboratively. To conceptualise some of these discussions in this paper we will be using a recent research project called: ‘Create & Connect: Connecting female artisan craft producers in Zanzibar with tourist markets through Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Design Thinking methodologies.’

The project was a multi-disciplinary project that included academics from tourism, art & design and computing. The initial brief for the designers was to look at artisan products from the region and look at ways in which they might be improved and made to the taste of a broader tourist audience. It was important to adhere to a participatory design approach where the design and research would be with the users and not only on behalf of them. (Spinuzzi:2005)

The previous research provided by the tourism academic highlighted that the female artisan craft-makers were primarily rural Muslim women, who had little knowledge and experience of the kind of people who might be buying their craft products as most of them were sold through NGOs. As we were trying to imagine ‘oneself into another person’s world’ (Gunn & Donovan: 2012) we realised that coming into these women’s world and showing them how to ‘design’ things better was not going to be enough, even if the designing was to be done collaboratively.

PAR and its methodology of collective participation, is particularly concerned with the democratisation of knowledge making, inequalities of power and social exclusion (Chevalier & Buckles: 2013) and in order to facilitate these principles we really needed to find out about these women on a human scale and show a little of ourselves too, both as people and as designers. We decided on a workshop approach that centered around meaning-making in design and how objects talk to people by the way they look and feel, which is also known as embodied or tacit knowledge (Polanyi:1958) The aim was to engage participants in a dialogue over how this tacit knowledge is embedded in objects and how designers can control what an object is ‘saying’ if they know who will be ‘reading’ it. Because tacit knowledge is tacit power.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Melanie Levick-Parkin
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2015 13:17
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2015 13:17

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