Design Thinking at the 2016 SEGD Conference Experience Seattle

Design Thinking is revolutionizing the worlds of business and governance and is now considered the gold standard for providing truly user-centered outcomes. In the world of Experiential Graphic Design, it is driving a shift from creating objects to creating strategies and processes for meeting user needs. SEGD’s first-ever Design Thinking workshop will happen during the 2016 SEGD Conference: Experience Seattle June 9-11. Justin Molloy(SEGD) and Nils Wiberg(from the award-winning interaction design studio Gagarin) will guide you through the Design Thinking process and transform your ways of thinking about your work!

Join the Design Thinking revolution at the 2016 SEGD Conference: Experience Seattle!

“Design Thinking is trending heavily in the design, business and government worlds, and it was one of the top 5 topics that SEGD Conference attendees told us they wanted more of,” says Justin Molloy, SEGD’s Director of Education and Creative Director.

“The idea is to get designers to think about not just making things, but using their design and strategy process skills to tackle other problems. This relates specifically to employing user input and developing strategies that align to user needs: How do we solve a problem without necessarily creating something?”

As a case-study scenario, the workshop will focus specifically on the user problems that could potentially be solved if a city were to adopt some type of public-facing, Internet-enabled device.  “So, what problems can we solve in the context of the city with a device that allows us to leverage data, infrastructure and analysis?” says Molloy.

Framing Design Thinking: Nils Wiberg, Gagarin

Swedish-born interactive artist and interaction designer Nils Wiberg works for the Reykjavík, Iceland-based Gagarin, an award-winning interactive design studio. The Gagarin team’s interactive exhibits for the Eldheimar Volcano Museumin Iceland won a 2015 SEGD Global Design Honor Award.

Wiberg will kick off the workshop with a presentation that frames Design Thinking in the real world of experiential design. Wiberg describes his own work as “bringing tangible computing to exhibition design” and “using technology to create immersive experiences that lead people to intuitive insights.” Whether he’s creating a dress that adapts to the Dow Jones Index or an exhibit that lets visitors dig out from a volcanic eruption, his goal is to “poeticize the distance between man and technology.”

Workshop participants will work in geographically-oriented groups to focus on what types of problems that Internet-enabled devices (such as New York’s LinkNYC program)could help solve in their cities.The LinkNYC initiative is repurposing New York City's obsolete pay-phone infrastructure for a series of free/public Wi-Fi hotspots.)

“Our objective is NOT to design the device, the interface or anything visual at all,” emphasizes Molloy. “Our goal is to map out who the users are, what the users might need or be doing, where these devices would be found, why people might need to use them and how the city or municipality might make people aware of the devices.”

"There are no wrong answers,” he adds. “We are here to develop a profile for this use, a persona and empathy for the users’ needs and how the device might improve or innovate the community and city.”

The fast-paced process will allow the groups to ideate and generate user profiles, then share with the other groups and gather feedback.

The workshop format is based on IBM’s Design Thinking workshop that is being used to train its new teams of more than 1,000 designers hired in the past two years.

“It’s not about creating objects; it’s about a process that creates empathy with users and tries to address their needs.” –Justin Molloy, SEGD


Attendees will gain a new understanding of Design Thinking and how it can inform various design projects and clients. “Design Thinking instills an approach that is not object-oriented,” Molloy notes. “We all need to be developing a new mindset about how we approach our projects. The mindset is that we don’t automatically or necessarily need to create something, but instead we need to deliver a service approach that is firmly grounded in user needs.”

The service economy of experiential design—unlike the roots of architectural signage—is not about objects but about the web of experiences we create to connect people with place. This is a sea change for our discipline, and something we all need to be aware of.”

The Design Thinking workshop is scheduled for Saturday, June 11, during the SEGD Conference. It will be a popular draw, so early registration is recommended. Get registered here for the 2016 SEGD Conference: Experience Seattle!

2016 SEGD Conference Experience Seattle


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