How People Work Reflection Blog

Introduction:

Over the past few weeks, we have covered a variety of different topics in design and its research, ranging from emotion to perception to design justice and racial fluency. Yet we — Shannon and I — still felt like we have just scratched the surface of what design truly encompasses.

Emotion:

It’s safe to say that emotion greatly impacts human decisions. However, we didn’t realize the full extent of it: human-centered design is derived from empathy; given that design is an experience, all design is emotional design. We found Jonathan Chapman’s additional lecture in emotion particularly engaging. Despite the pipe dream of a perfectly customized lifestyle, hedonic adaptation would surely occur. As a result, every design should provide a rich experience with a bit of discomfort. Experience is not about speed or efficiency, but rather how we navigate through people’s emotions in a communicative, meaningful way.

Worldview:

Worldview was a topic we thought we were familiar with; we were mistaken. Worldviews are shaped by our personal experiences and history, our environment, our culture, and our location. Though these things feel very obvious, it’s something that designers don’t pay enough attention to. We found the exercise where we talked about our different worldviews rewarding and introspective as we got to know our peers a little better by understanding their perspectives. It also helped us recognize and reflect on our own subjectivity as designers.

Perception:

The decision-making lectures during the cognition and perception unit really stood out to us as they related directly to what we do and how we function on a daily basis. We both read The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis, a book about decision-making and the psychology behind it. It was really interesting to see the intersection of science and design and how the overlap of the two fields informed each other. Another thing that we resonated with was how we saw users — as problems or solving users’ problems. We found that reframing the basics significantly changed how we approached a design problem.

Inclusivity, Design Justice, and Racial Fluency:

Inclusivity does not imply erasing differences. There’s a fine line between an inclusive solution and simply feeding a designer’s savior complex, and the latter could potentially cause subconscious power imbalances. We both grew up in a high-tech, gentrified area, and too many times we’ve witnessed the solutions to be forcing technology or financial aid onto situations that may not need them. Thus, we should avoid pluriverse mentalities, and instead provide solutions without discrediting the lifestyles of the affected.

Conclusion and Reflection:

Although these lessons have strengthened our understanding of purposeful design, we’re still at the tip of the iceberg. How can we implement these concepts for physical solutions? Does this broadened understanding only improve our design research, or can we go further?

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