Design Studio Reflections


Class 1: Transition Design Lecture + Meadows Reading

Transition design and systems thinking has been embedded within the CMU Design Curriculum since freshman year. Taking a wide range of courses starting with systems we began to realize what we can do as designers now is a lot more than just a product but a wave of change through transition design. I realize now how important it is and how thankful to have been exposed to this type of thinking rather than the traditional designer that I might come across. The Framework Terry touched on introduced looking at our own world views and being able to shift and posture yourself to do things that we might not be experts in as of yet. I wonder how many times we will have to take on a task or topic we will not be well versed in. We need to equip ourselves with the tools to do so and be confident enough to tackle wicked problems with massive amounts of uncertainty. As a product designer its hard to foresee and grasp how I would go about implementing systems level change when most people right now do not have the open mindset of designing for the long run.

The wicked problems we will tackle are so intertwined and within multiple systems that we do not know where to start. Terry mentions the design process of transition design that includes waiting and observing, reframing the present and future, designing interventions to take on these problems. As a designer I wonder how much I can do to change or solve a wicked problem when it goes across so many disciplinaries. Overall I enjoyed the lecture as it was another eye opener and makes me optimistic in the things to come for our generation of designers.


Class 2: Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh!

Looking into wicked problems we were given the ones closest to us. Eight categories within Pittsburgh. These included:

  1. Access to Clean air
  2. Access to Clean Water
  3. Gentrification
  4. Access to Affordable Housing
  5. Access to Affordable food
  6. Access to Quality Education
  7. Access to Public Transportation
  8. Reduction of Crime

These were chosen because they are archetypes to wicked problems within a lot of other places. Over the years the design school will accumulate a vast amount of knowledge and end up hopefully implementing real life impactful interventions.

The last part of the class we played kahoot where the questions were pertaining to pittsburgh facts and our team (tartan truck) won first place. Although we won I definitely were surprised at a couple questions.

Thoughts: Over the years as a design student at cmu we have definitely worked on a lot of projects pertaining to pittsburgh. Hopefully this time we will have a chance to delve deeper than before.


Class 3: Affinity Diagramming

My group was given “Access to Affordable Food” and we started out my just randomly thinking of things related to the topic. We had alot of questions and did not even know how food came to us from farm to market.

Class wide Review

Coming together after going aroundand reviewing everyones diagrams we discussed what we noticed. The most apparent thing was that everyone had organized their post its into categories, bubbles or matrixes. It was as if instinctly everyone of us decided that was the next step. Some group focused more on questions that they had pertaining to the topic while others wrote down whatever came to mind.

Categories were emergent from rapid brainstorming

Some unique categories that came out were Timelines, detailed processes and organizations dependant on the archetype that was given. Both bottom level detail and higher level overviews were also apparent.

“Our lack of personal experience” (Keeping stock of your assumptions)

“Who is involved? Important people”

Questions to think about:

  1. How does time play a role?
  2. What are the problems associated with the topic?


After talking about the diagrams


Class 4: Terrys Lecture on World view, Stakeholder beliefs, Assumptions and Expectations

Moving on the next phase we focused on stakeholders. Our maps are living breathing ecosystems that represent our ongoing conversations about the wicked problems.

Develop systems thinkers to create solutions & place them in the right place.

Meadows reading most important coverage point:

The MINDSET or PARADIGM out of which the systems arises

What is our most collective belief on the topic?


  1. Belief system ex: Apple pie, “god is on our side”, baseball
  2. subjective “slice of reality”
  3. Ignorance is human nature


Class 5: Stakeholders Reflection

How did the exercise help us?

  • Helped scale the problem
  • Brings different perspectives
  • Oppositions surfaced — — — → Found holes/ missing people or influences

Is the problem with the people or their perceptions?

Who has the power to change things — →Different stages bring about stakeholders

Air quality group: Non-living stake holders

ex: Sewage and Run off

Crime group: Is social media a stake holder?

What exactly is their stake? Is there a platform being used for illegal activities?


Class 8: Creating Timeline Review +Terry’s Lecture

First ten minutes of class included going around and looking at everyone’s time line narratives for their futures.

It was interesting seeing everyone’s artifacts because it made it seem as though most of these events had already happened. Some examples were news articles, PTA magazines and protesting signs. For my group I made a news article on the new green building being built on the outskirts of pittsburgh after a farming revolution. Writing out the article made me think about prior events that someone might bring up while writing about the news and about current events that could possibly be happening simultaneously. Overall I thought this exercise definitely gave way to thinking about the future in the present preset.

Class Crit Discussion:

The picture above was the timeline that was most effective.
Our timeline on Pittsburghs Future toward Food Oasis's

What is the reason why it works?

  1. Color Arrangement +images that related back to post- its — → made it easy to skim
  2. Lay out of post its were strategic — → hierachy/ multiple “levels of entry”
  3. Full thoughts (power phrasing)
  4. Can an outsider understand at a glance?
  5. Hold on to their interest enough to keep reading onto multiple levels of hiearchy
“we are pattern seeking missiles…feels human”

Discussing the multitude of reasons why this particular timeline was effective we delve into a conversation about how this was a way to prepare us for informal presentations with clients. It also allowed for mistakes and conversations because it was low fidelity. While something more finalized/ digitalized leaves more room for criticism and less room for discussion.

Terry’s Lecture: Strategies of New ways of designing

Mapping wicked problems →Stakeholders →How do we procreate visions of desireable futures

  1. Examine needs
  2. Establish Everyday life/lifestyles at context for design
“Synergistic Solutions” → Solves more than one problem

Max Neef Theory’s of Needs

Needs →circumstances

Satisfiers → planned course of action

Design → tangible results


Max Neef Object Review +Inhibitors vs. Synergistic Satisfiers

The assignment was to pick two objects and use Max Neef’s Theory of Needs to dissect What kind of needs are satisfied if there any consequences to other needs.

Going around studio we had a chance to look at everyones work.

Discussing the assignment Terry mentioned that the needs Max Neef mentions are “Limited” and “Finite” while the way we as humans satisfy them are “Limitless”.

We ended up talking about smartphones and how it satisfies different needs based on who you are. As a parent for example it may satisfy the need of protection because you can track kids by GPS.

Interventions and Consequences:

The Max Neef Assignment allowed us to think about the consequences long term and how to bridge people together. We started to apply this concept to our wicked problems. Looking at our timeline we could see what short term needs need to be met and what interventions with satisfy them.


Reading: “Service Design 101" Lauren Chapman Ruiz

What is a service?

  • Intangible Economic goods that lead to an outcome vs. physical thing
  • Outcomes are generated by value exchanges that occur through touchpoints

What creates a service experience?

Service experiences take in consideration of all different situations and are intentionally planned

Frontstage and Backstage

Front stage: things the customer sees and interacts with

Backstage: shape the experience of the frontstage and help to deliver the service

Five different types of touch points

  1. People: employees and customers encountered while the service is produced
  2. Place: where the service is being delivered
  3. Props: Objects used to produce the service encounter
  4. Partneres: Other business or entities that help produce of enhance the service
  5. Process: workflows and rituals that produce the service

What is Service design ? -Molly Steenson + Activity

Going over the reading Molly Steenson reiterated the difference between service design and designing for products.


Products are discreet objects so operations are run as “SILOS”

What do Service designers do?

  • Objects of design are experiences
  • understanding stages of peoples relationships
  • understanding what gets exchanged and how
  • looking at different business models
  • service prototype and touch points

Service Design Jam

Assignment: Service Blueprint for one of our interventions.


Designing for Social Innovation Lecture


Frameworks for DSI

How did we find that task?

We all want high impact. Staying away from extremes.

low scale of impact is legitimate

all solutions combined within simple wins, low hanging fruit, and deep customized change can combine to a solution toward transition design

lack of information because its hard to defend our work

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