E.Louise Larson

How Might We…

Design thinking explored through metaphor and experimentation.

 
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Duration
8 weeks

Roles
Author • Illustrator • Researcher • Designer

Techniques + Tools
Wacom Intuos Tablet • Carnegie Mellon Swiss Poster Collection


 
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OUTCOME

A published manual that introduces design thinking to aspiring designers. This manual exists on Medium.com and in a printed and bound book.

This series is exploring the distance between ideas and theories that have shaped Design. Each essay has a specific focus as it relates to Design and the Design Thinking Process.

 
 
 

Problem Statement

How might I craft a publication that introduces design thinking, and its criticisms, to an aspiring audience of designers? What metaphor or experiment might be conducted to illuminate the boundaries of the current design thinking conversation?

 
 
 
Design Thinking can be expansive, divergent, tedious, empathic, and challenging. These images convey a linear process, not a dynamic one. Top Google Image results for “Design Thinking” on Nov 28th, 2018.

Design Thinking can be expansive, divergent, tedious, empathic, and challenging. These images convey a linear process, not a dynamic one. Top Google Image results for “Design Thinking” on Nov 28th, 2018.

 
 
 

Brief

Research, design and produce a “Design Thinking Manual” that introduces the topic to a non-expert reader. The manual must be printed, bound and contain:

  1. an overview of key debates;

  2. a set of personalized design thinking tools and methods;

  3. self-made illustrations and diagrams throughout;

  4. an effective layout enabling readers to use the book in different ways.

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Research

The articles presented in this series draw on an array of influences. My initial research was exploring sensory perception and design in artificial intelligence. As my scope began to narrow, the philosophy behind reason, senses, and world building emerged. These are the building blocks of design.

Writing these articles has taken me through the fields of Design, Human Computer Interaction, Media Theory, and History. Some of this research illuminated deeper disciplinary interconnectedness. Other research felt meandering and was left on the side of the road while passing through more interesting territory.

To share this journey, I interviewed several subject matter experts. Thank you to professors Jonathan Chapman, Molly Steenson, Marti Louw, and John Zimmerman for taking the time to share their expertise with me.

 
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The node “Brainstorming with users” might move between the Empathy/Ideate and Empathy/Test quadrants.

The node “Brainstorming with users” might move between the Empathy/Ideate and Empathy/Test quadrants.

 
 

Approach

In earlier planning stages, I was thinking about this series as five questions for the future of Design. Looking toward the future is at the heart of moving into preferred states, which is why I chose to reposition these articles for new or novice designers.

This project made me reflect on the language and communication within Design. Words like “users,” “intervention,” and “immersive” are common terms in practice that Designers easily forget that this coded language excludes novices and the public.

To increase inclusion in this conversation, every article uses images and metaphors to make abstract concepts more concrete. All images are my own illustration and original to this project.

Lastly, these articles use accessible language. Medium recommends writing for the average adult reading level, which is 6–8th grade in the US. Every article falls within this range on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Analyzer.

 
 
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Sentio

Making air quality visible for grade schoolers in Pittsburgh, PA.

for the Environmental Charter School

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Duration
4 weeks


Teammate
Edwin Cho
Visual Design

Roles
Researcher • Curriculum Designer • Photographer • Learning Technology Designer • Information Architect

Techniques + Tools
User Testing • Field Research • Spatial Storytelling • Fusion360 CAD Design • Laser Cutting • Magnetism


 

Brief

Design a visual communication system for the Environmental Charter School (ECS) intended to address issues of air quality in the Pittsburgh region. The primary stakeholder for this project is the Environmental Charter School, but the project can address other stakeholders as deemed appropriate by your research.

This system must develop visual communication for an appropriate spectrum of audiences as framed by ECS, relevant to the issue of air quality, as defined by your team. This system must also consider the practicality and implementation of stakeholders.

OUTCOME

A comprehensive curriculum for fourth–sixth grade at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh, PA.

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This curriculum includes a teacher’s guide, student field guide, air magnifier kit, and plans for a vinyl installation. These pieces work in together for an immersive exploration of air quality in Pittsburgh.

Research

Our initial research included a broad survey. We explored topics like air pollution’s negative neurodevelopment effects on school aged children and the connection between identity and pollution. This research informed our decision to work within the school environment to build air quality literacy and advocacy.

Problem Statement

How might we design a curriculum for the Environmental Charter School (ECS) that builds literacy around Pittsburgh’s air quality, identity, and industrial past that promotes civic engagement for a healthier future?

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Approach

Our reframe of Design Thinking is “Design Feeling: the messy joy of problem solving.” This feeling is an internal practice of continuous iteration and action: one that naturally lends itself to civic action.

To make air quality concrete, we brainstormed many different sensory experiences. Ideas like projection mapping, tangible data, and edible air were all explored. The most well received idea was a vinyl installation that obscured vision in decades with highest air pollution. The whiteboard drawing to the left is our initial concept.

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After settling on the vinyl installation we had to identify an appropriate grade level, scaffold the curriculum, and write lesson plans. This involved rapidly prototyping many ideas and testing some them with local educators from Assemble.

We also built a prototype of the Air Magnifier, a tool students build as part of the included lesson plans.

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Personal Histories

Narrative building for a designer’s development and practice

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Duration
2 days

Roles
Author • Photo Editor • Designer • Sewist

Techniques + Tools
Vellum • Hunt Botanicals Collection • Sewing Machine


 

Brief

Produce a life map that introduces peer designers to your personal history and professional journey. This map must be a physical product with a clear visual language. Maps may cover any relevant length of time or content.

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OUTCOME

A bound artifact that leads the reader through a garden of experience.

In contrast to previous artifacts created in this course, my map situated personal knowledge and histories together, criss crossing in time and space. This is physically represented by the tangled string, a metaphor for the rhizomatic way in which life experiences continue to affect and alter the present.

Problem Statement

How might we create a tangible and visual interaction that represents a tangled web of life experience?

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Approach

The 24-hour timeframe for this project was the largest limiting factor. My initial concept was to represent my personal history through the metaphor of a utopian city plan. After several failed sketches, I moved to the metaphor of a house. Equally unfruitful, the idea of a garden emerged.

The metaphor of a garden deeply connected with my experiences growing up in nature. Each page in this book includes a botanical drawing of a plant that was symbolically, or literally, connected to that period in my life.

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Coal Mining
Human Factors

Observing the evolution of human factors in industrial applications

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Duration
3 weeks

Roles
Author • Researcher • Video Editing

Techniques + Tools
Historical Analysis • Human Factors Analysis • Avenue Mine Underground Tour


 

Brief

  1. A short video of approximately one minute providing a compelling example or insight into each of physical, cognitive, and emotional interactions. This could be one composite whole video, or three segments stitched in sequence. Smart-phone video quality is fine, but make it suitable for viewing on laptops and projected screen.

  2. A visual diagram or other communication piece conveying a holistic understanding of people through the relationship between physical, cognitive, and emotional human factors. Consider the piece as if you were communicating to others how these three interrelated aspects are important to designers in the context of human centered design. The final poster should be tabloid, 11x17 portrait or landscape.

OUTCOME

A cohesive visual system documenting the development of human factors in the coal mining industry of western Pennsylvania.

The gifs below highlight the underground trolley and turn-of-the century mining equipment.

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Research

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From universal one-size-fits-all tools to ergonomic and automated machinery, the nineteenth century mining industry rapidly evolved equipment for safety and comfort, innovating many human factors improvements.

Before electric machinery was implemented in underground mining, miners used tools like this chest auger. The mine tour I attended included demonstrations of equipment. This pre-electric tool required miners to kneel and lay prostrate while drilling into the coal veins. This labor was done by candlelight, with only the company of a canary.

Later mining equipment included lights, oxygen sensors, safety alarms, and more efficient drilling techniques.

Problem Statement

How might I craft a publication that introduces design thinking, and its criticisms, to an aspiring audience of designers? What metaphor or experiment might be conducted to illuminate the boundaries of the current design thinking conversation?

Approach

Larson_Louise.png

In earlier planning stages, I was thinking about this series as five questions for the future of Design. Looking toward the future is at the heart of moving into preferred states, which is why I chose to reposition these articles for new or novice designers.

This project made me reflect on the language and communication within Design. Words like “users,” “intervention,” and “immersive” are common terms in practice that Designers easily forget that this coded language excludes novices and the public.

To increase inclusion in this conversation, every article uses images and metaphors to make abstract concepts more concrete. All images are my own illustration and original to this project.

Lastly, these articles aim to use accessible language. Medium recommends writing for the average adult reading level, which is 6–8th grade in the US. Every article falls within this range on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Analyzer.

 
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Coal Mining
Human Factors

Observing the evolution of human factors in industrial applications

giphy (4).gif

Duration
3 weeks

Roles
Author • Researcher • Video Editing

Techniques + Tools
Historical Analysis • Human Factors Analysis • Avenue Mine Underground Tour


 

Brief

  1. A short video of approximately one minute providing a compelling example or insight into each of physical, cognitive, and emotional interactions. This could be one composite whole video, or three segments stitched in sequence. Smart-phone video quality is fine, but make it suitable for viewing on laptops and projected screen.

  2. A visual diagram or other communication piece conveying a holistic understanding of people through the relationship between physical, cognitive, and emotional human factors. Consider the piece as if you were communicating to others how these three interrelated aspects are important to designers in the context of human centered design. The final poster should be tabloid, 11x17 portrait or landscape.

OUTCOME

A cohesive visual system documenting the development of human factors in the coal mining industry of western Pennsylvania.

The gifs below highlight the underground trolley and turn-of-the century mining equipment.

giphy (2).gif
giphy (3).gif

Research

IMG_1488.jpg

From universal one-size-fits-all tools to ergonomic and automated machinery, the nineteenth century mining industry rapidly evolved equipment for safety and comfort, innovating many human factors improvements.

Before electric machinery was implemented in underground mining, miners used tools like this chest auger. The mine tour I attended included demonstrations of equipment. This pre-electric tool required miners to kneel and lay prostrate while drilling into the coal veins. This labor was done by candlelight, with only the company of a canary.

Later mining equipment included lights, oxygen sensors, safety alarms, and more efficient drilling techniques.

Problem Statement

How might I craft a publication that introduces design thinking, and its criticisms, to an aspiring audience of designers? What metaphor or experiment might be conducted to illuminate the boundaries of the current design thinking conversation?

Approach

Larson_Louise.png

In earlier planning stages, I was thinking about this series as five questions for the future of Design. Looking toward the future is at the heart of moving into preferred states, which is why I chose to reposition these articles for new or novice designers.

This project made me reflect on the language and communication within Design. Words like “users,” “intervention,” and “immersive” are common terms in practice that Designers easily forget that this coded language excludes novices and the public.

To increase inclusion in this conversation, every article uses images and metaphors to make abstract concepts more concrete. All images are my own illustration and original to this project.

Lastly, these articles aim to use accessible language. Medium recommends writing for the average adult reading level, which is 6–8th grade in the US. Every article falls within this range on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Analyzer.

 
IMG_1601.jpeg