E.Louise Larson

How Might We

Design thinking explored through metaphor and experimentation.


8 weeks

Author • Illustrator • Researcher • Designer

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

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Process Overview


How Might We… is a design thinking manual created for aspiring designers to think critically about their role in industry. The project culminates in a proposed experiment that would leverage artificial intelligence to create an autonomous Swiss-poster generator.

Inspired by my own interest in how design is playing a role in the negotiation of ethics in AI, this manual was published in a format where much of this conversation is happening online: Medium.com. There is also a printed and bound copy not available for public distribution.


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 Principles


The initial inspiration for this project came from the intersection of artificial intelligence, philosophy, media, ethics, and design. The following principles were borrowed from these diverse field to guide How Might We…



Autonomy provides users enough tools and information to accomplish their goals but not feel overwhelmed.



Prerequisite for Design Thinking, empathy removes ego and assumptions from design to create space for stakeholders.



Design relies on abductive thinking, the simultaneous generalization and narrowing of existing ideas to generate new ideas.



To increase inclusion in this conversation, every article uses images and metaphors to make abstract concepts more concrete.



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.



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.



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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