Personalizing our Approach to Design

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Siggard, Jennifer Liane; Furner, Tressa Ellen; Sumsion, Cecily; Morgan, David
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1Industrial Design Students, Brigham Young University, Provo Utah; 2Industrial Design Professor, Brigham Young University, Provo Utah
Section: Learning Spaces
Page(s): 209-212
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


Our Industrial Design program is predominantly male. As women, we compared our performance and methods to those of our male classmates’. In our eyes, we lacked something that we could not pinpoint. We thought this was just a personal problem to “get over.” During the research for a recent project, we had the opportunity to work in an environment conducive to developing our own design approach. This proved to be the turning point in our self-concept as designers. We found that our so-called “problem” was not a problem, but an innate difference that needed to be treated as that: a difference. We had been conditioned to look for successful people and emulate their specific method of achieving success. As our program is predominantly male, that is who we assumed we should emulate. We realized that our pattern of success did not need to exactly follow our male counterparts’, but rather we should develop our own approach. This approach included:
- greater emphasis on team cohesion
- group problem-solving discussions
- focusing on end-user needs earlier in the process
- empathy driven research
While our approach is unique to us, this is not necessarily about us being female. We had these experiences while working on an all-female team, but learning to develop a personal design approach can be helpful to design students. Our findings are valuable because approaching design in your own way is not a problem to be solved but rather a difference to be discovered and capitalized upon.

Keywords: Design approach, discovery, personalization, creativity in design education, learning spaces


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