Design Research Studio

Class 1- August 28, 2017

I remembered one of the lectures that we had in freshman year. Terry came to our class to talk about the newly designed program and how we would be the first class to run through it entirely. We would learn the basic foundational skills freshman year. The class would then be split off into the 3 concentrations our sophomore and junior year. And then we would finally come back together as a class and work together in what they called transition design. During my time as a design student here I was never sure what transition design meant. I had a difficult time envisioning the types of products I would be creating. The lecture that we had today really cleared up the questions that I have and allowed me to better understand what we are trying to do.

Transition design is new knowledge and skill sets aimed at seeding and catalysing systems. The world will soon be going into a societal transition from the current Industrial Capitalism. This system is unsustainable and we will soon reach a point where the resources that we exploit will no longer be enough. This will require us to transition to a more sustainable future. In our modern society we also have many wicked problems that are very difficult to solve and are connected to other wicked problems. In only way to solve them is to change the system that we are living in. It is difficult for us to understand this system because we are living in it, there is no anti-environment that will allow us to deeply reflect and see why the system are causing these wicked problems. Systems thinking is the ability to see and understand the relationships between the parts at different levels of scale. This requires observation before going in to make small interventions. We then wait for the system respond before making another intervention.

I feel that this year’s work will be much more significant and impactful than the previous works that we have done. During sophomore and junior year I learned how to design and make physical products to solve relatively straightforward problems. This year we will be tackling much more complex problems. The solutions that we come up with may not be one specific product but more so designing systems and the products that are the smaller components of the system.

I have come to appreciate this class after I have a better understanding of what we will learn. There are many schools around the country that will teach students to design good products and services. However, there are very few that will teach students to think about larger and more complex problems and well thought out solutions to them. Once we graduate and go out into the real world, we will become one of the first waves of designers that will have the skills to solve problems in this manner.


Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, Donella Meadows

I found the Meadows reading about leverage points to be very helpful in preparing my mindset for the upcoming project.

Many of problems in the world is caused by the economic model which pushes for unlimited and exponential growth. Growth even though has benefits also has drawbacks that people seem to ignore. Major problems such as poverty, hunger, environmental destruction etc. In order to go about solving these problems in the most effective way, we have to find the leverage point in the system. The leverage point is a place in a complex system where a small shift can produce a profound change in the system. They are points of power.

I have learned about Forrestor’s concept about the infinite economic growth model and the costs that they have on society before in Design Futures. This reading was a good reminder of those concepts. What I found to be eye opening were the different types of intervention that are possible. The chart that Meadows provided was especially useful, ranking the different intervention methods in increasing order of effectiveness. I am excited to try out some of these intervention methods in order to solve the wicked problem that my group will be assigned.

Class 2- August 31, 2017

Stacy gave us a lecture on the 8 wicked problems of Pittsburgh. I was surprised by some of the topics that came up as I never thought that they were an issue in this area. This actually reflects how much I actually know about the city. The lack of my knowledge about Pittsburgh was reinforced by a trivia game that we played. I really enjoyed this part of the class as it allowed me to test my knowledge. The game was very informative with specific numbers and data. However, I soon really that many assumptions that I have about Pittsburgh was very far off from the reality. This trivia also allowed me to work with my new team members, both of which I have never worked with before during my time at CMU. Even though all of us were friends from before, it was interesting to see the way that they come about solving the problems and coming up with answers. Our team came in 9th place out of 16, which put us right in the average of our class. We were all quite surprised about the lack of awareness that we had on these issues.

My team was assigned the problem of the lack of access to public transportation. Personally, I know relatively little on this topic. Even though I use the Port Authority public buses almost everyday, I only use a few lines on a regular basis and am unaware of what was happening elsewhere. I have never had the urge or need to look more into it as it didn’t really have an effect on my daily life. I am excited to see what issues my research would find, I am sure that many would be surprising similarly to the trivia that we had.


Mapping Ojai’s Water Shortage: A Workshop, Terry Irwin

Phases of the Workshop:

  1. Mapping the Wicked Problem and stakeholder relations.

Participants will create a problem map of the Ojai water shortage, this will serve as a basis for the ongoing engagement of the community to ensure it represents all facets of the problem. Stakeholder relations is the most overlooked aspect of wicked problems, conflict between the stakeholders is one of the most common barriers to the successful implementation of solutions of all kinds.

2. Envisioning of the future lifestyles.

Vision of a future Ojai where the water shortage problem has been resolved. Lifestyles exists at a multiple level of scale, when the scales are brought together they will form a larger vision of what life in a sustainable Ojai might look like.

Participants will develop multiple lifestyle narratives which will be brought together to form a larger vision. The objective is to form a collective vision that all stakeholders want to occupy.

3. Backcasting: Creating Transitional Pathways

You can’t design solutions for a desired future if you haven’t envisioned what it looks like. In the absence of a vision, people fear a future of abstention, deprivation or even dystopia.

Backcasting begins with defining a desirable future and then ‘backcasting’ to the present to create transitional pathways along which projects are situated as steps in the longer transition.

Future visions act as a compass and a magnet that guides projects and initiatives in the present.


I found this reading to be very eye-opening as I have not read or seen such a comprehensive method that goes about finding solutions to a wicked problem. I am excited to see if I would be able to implement some of these processes to my project in trying to improve Pittsburgh’s access to public transportation.

Class 3- September 6, 2017
First Affinity Diagram

For this class our group has prepared our first affinity diagram. This diagram organize some our initial finding on the problem surrounding the access to public transportation. We wrote down our research onto post it notes and organize them into categories in order to see which of the issues are more closely related.

The first thing that we did in class was to walk around the room to see the diagrams of other groups in order to understand the types of issues each of the topics had. However one of the major issues was that people had trouble understanding what topic these issues belong too as the sticky notes were not very descriptive and concise. Many of them were also overlapping with issues from other groups. Stacie asked us to quickly go back to rewrite these posts its to try and make them more specific to our issue.

Towards the end of our class we started working on a new affinity diagram that helped us organise our specific problems into designated categories. These include: Infrastructure/ Technology Issues, political issues, social issues, economic issues, and environmental issues. I definitely felt that our research became much more organised once we started placing our research on this diagram.

Revised Affinity Diagram

Class 4- September 11, 2017


Worldview, Stakeholder Beliefs, Assumptions, & Expectations

  • Systems thinkers, develop ability to understand large complex systems. They can create smaller solutions that have a big impact. Specific placement of the solution.
  • How does it ramify socially and politically. What is the correlation?
  • Wicked Problem Map are understanding of the problem as it develops over time. It evolves and reflect our deeper understanding of the problem over time. Becomes a living, breathing understanding of a group of people on this problem. Will see new connections everyday. Looking for the constellation within these maps. Show us the biggest leverage point in the system to stage the solution. Solving the big problems. Map system context around them.

Donella Meadows’ most powerful leverage point for change: The mindset or paradigm out of which the system arises.


  • Shared idea in the minds of society. Great big unstated assumptions, everyone already knows them- constitute that society’s paradigm or deepest set of beliefs about who they are and how the world works. Unchallenged beliefs and assumptions are often connected to all manner of complex, Wicked Problems. Interpretive understanding of the world that is based upon experience. Subjective, slice of reality. We usually see the world exactly how we expect to see it. Interpretation that usually enforces our beliefs. They could not perceive what they could not conceive. Patagonians could not see Magellan’s ship anchored off their coast because their worldview could not encompass transatlantic travel. They are full of prejudice, incoherence, contradiction. One hot mess Go largely unexamined and change so slowly as to be imperceptible. Only in hindsight that these problems come into view. Designed artifacts are embodiment of worldview. In the present, we are often oblivious to changes in our beliefs because they go largely unchallenged. Conflict in the world today are clashes in worldview and belief systems. It is hard to find a solution that people can agree upon because they have a different set of beliefs.

Wicked Problems: Consequences Vs. root Cause

  • Many of the problems that we deal with everyday are actually the consequences of wicked problems that exist on at a higher level of scale. Finding the root of the wicked problem is the greatest leverage point for change.

Transition design= formal design skills+Understanding of systems + empathy and & ability to dance (collaborate with others) + Ethos: people & planet

  • Multiple stakeholders with conflicted interests
  • Financial model, profit margins before knowing the leverage points.

Stakeholder Relations

  • Connective tissue within wicked problems.
  • Call for new mindsets and postures characterized by empathy
  • Opposition / conflict, Affinity / Alignment
  • Ojai drought- tension between people. Second generation avocado farmer, Tourist resort owner, lower income resident. Find areas of opening, opportunities. Find the things that they agree on. Creating the spirit of looking at the problem. Transition design= identifying barriers

Class 5- September 13, 2017
Stakeholder Map

For this class our group prepared a stakeholder map that depicts the people that are involved of is part of the problem. Who they are affecting. Creating this map allowed us to get a sense of scale of the impact that the issue has.

Stakeholder Relations

Community the Structure of Belonging, Peter Block

  • Be part of creating an organisation, neighbourhood, city, or country that works for all. Written for those willing to take leadership role in creating a strong connected community, reducing suffering and increase happiness in the world.
  • Community is about the experience of belonging. To feel related and connected to something.
  • Structure means to build, to construct, to form, as well as the organization or morphology of the elements involved in the process. It can be seen as the embodiment of creation . . . a quest not only for form but also for purpose, direction and continuity.
  • The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole.
  • We are living in an age of isolation, imitating the lament from early in the last century, when life was referred to as the age of anxiety. Even in the age of globalisation where the world has become more connected, this does not necessarily create the sense of belonging.
  • Caused by gaps between the sectors of our cities and neighbourhoods. Each sector is working hard, but this does not make a community.
  • By thinking in terms of a structure of belonging, we begin to build the capacity to transform our communities into ones that work for all.
  • A community’s well-being simply had to do with the quality of the relationships, the cohesion that exists among its citizens. This is called social capital.

Future Workshops, How to Create Desirable Futures, Jungk

  • Future workshops helps people to develop creative ideas and projects for a better society.

A Gap in the Democratic System:

Class 6- September 18, 2017


We began class by having presenting skits that we had prepared. Even though the the skits were informative in allowing us to see the stakeholders viewpoint some were inconsiderate and made fun of the situation. These issues were not meant to be funny as they are real issues that people are facing.

What should we do next?

What do we need to have thought about in order to propose successful designs?

  • We have to consider constraints that we are working within.
  • Future scenarios of what the stakeholders want. Thinking about where we want to be.
  • Designing something in the larger context. A chair in a room, a room in the house, a house in a neighbourhood, a neighbourhood in a city.
  • Consider layers
  • Next larger context in time, What often seems to happen. In the relative sense of time: making/executing, design/strategy, foresight. Inside out thinking: extrapolation of the present.

What is the future?

2047 Exercise- Haikus

My Future 2047

Carbon Fiber Car

I hear it whizz by my house

Soothing noise it is.

My Community 2047

My small neighbourhood

Robots and children playing

Loud laughters are heard

The further we look, the more the possibilities that things can unfold. So many different possible futures (parallel universes). Regarding the future as plural. Possible, probably, preferable. Probably is less broad than possible, smaller subset. Preferable is right on the boundary of possible.

The probably tens to focus on singular, linear ways of thinking.

The future cannot be studied, because it does not exist.


Caring for Future Generations, Jim Dator

  • In the past humans have lived in environments that do not change. The future was around 80% the same as it was now. 15% of the future operated on some cyclical basis. 5% of the future was new and unprecedented.
  • We now live in the world of perpetual change, where unprecedented change is more than what will stay the same. The key word is Progress.
  • However we are not leaving a better world for the future generation as the world is becoming more polluted, indebted, etc.

What are the obligations of the present generations toward the future generations?

  • identify in the present the needs of future generations
  • how can we act ethically and responsibly in the present to enable future generations to satisfy their need.

Society as a Social invention

  • ending of slavery
  • ending of racial segregation
  • ending colonialism

Being a successful innovator requires you to think in two different ways:

  • Convergent thinking. Conventional, requires you to observe and understand what is happening. Assumes that there is a single best answer or solution to a problem.
  • Creative thinking. Ability to generate many new ideas, to recognise alternate possibilities and not to get stuck with the conventional way of doing thing. Courage to try unusual ideas and practices

Futurist as Architect:

Architect needs to be visionary and imaginative. They need to “see” things which ordinary people cannot see, and to see them whole and functioning — to see a new building (or maybe an entire community) actually in use on a physical site before it is built.

  • Creative, making there dreams come true
  • Good, practical, effective manager
  • Aware of health, safety, rules and regulations
  • Motivation and courage to do these tasks

What future studies is and is not:

  1. The future cannot be predicted because it does not exist.
  2. Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous.
  3. We shape our tools and therefore our tools shape us.

Class 7- September 20,2017


Creating Generative Futures

Purely predictive or linear stance a trap. When we write about the future, we responded in a range of different modes. Possible probable, preferable.

Any single image of the future, no matter how compelling, is incomplete. The nature and shape of change itself.

Jim Dator- “The future cannot be studied because the future does not exist.”

What responsibilities do designers have to the people of the future.

Idea of delay. Action and delay until when we see the effects. Stock market crash of 1929, Black Tuesday. The concept of stock market had not really been tested before, the first crash.

Applying present day understandings to earlier actions is very tricky.

Systematically and creatively thought out future forecasts can unfold over time.

A scenario is a hypothetical history- a path through possibility space.Having only one possibly scenario is useless.

Generic images of the future or archetype.

  • Hollywood movies examples.

What are the basic future plots?

  1. Grow: continued growth.
  2. Collapse: Mad max, day after tomorrow. Asteroid, economic meltdown, etc. Dramatic or slow decline.
  3. Discipline: demolition man, 1984
  4. Transformation: Tron, Ghost in the shell, Matrix

Key relationships between the archetypes and the others: maximising difference, diversity. Scenarios that we believe are be stable and impossible to be disrupted will be the ones that screw us up.


Four Futures for Hawaii 2050- Stuart Candy, Jim Dator, Jake Dunagan

I found the reading on the four prospective future scenarios based on Jim Dator’s concept to be a good reminder of the materials I have learned before in Futures class in junior year. Each of the scenarios clearly outlined each of the STEEP (Social, Technical, Economic, Environmental, Political) aspects of the future. The author really had to take in the consideration of the city which is unique in itself and imagine how it can play out differently depending on the scenario. These examples will prove to be a great guide for us when we are assigned to create a futures scenario based on one of these 4 alternative scenarios.

Class 8- September 25, 2017
Collapse Scenario for Pittsburgh 2050

Above is the future scenario that my group imagined if Pittsburgh collapsed in the year 2050. We envisioned the different aspects of the future which were divided into STEEP categories.

What new issues have emerged in relation to your past research scenario?What thing should you do to encourage the things you like about the future? What things should you do discourage the things you dislike about the future?

Future Scenario Matrices

Above is a matrices chart that is based on the future scenarios that the different groups have came up with. I really enjoyed listening to my classmate’s scenarios, being able to compare them to each other on the Matrices worksheet allowed me to distinctively see and compare each aspect of the scenario.

Class 9- September 27, 2017
Page from a school textbook on the history of transportation

After envisioning our ideal future of Pittsburgh in the year 2050 each of the team members created an artefact from the future that demonstrates the development or changes. The artefact that I have chosen to create is a page from a textbook depicting the history of modern transportation. It gives a brief explanation of how the hyperloop technology came to be and the reasons why it has overtaken airplanes as the most common mode of continental traveling.


Ideal Futures

Class groups read paragraphs on their ideal futures of Pittsburgh:

  • Sharing economy; resources, transportation
  • Community appreciating resources, changing from material appreciation.
  • Universal pay, everyone makes enough, promotes creativity.
  • Large play in artificial intelligence.
  • People are closer to their communities, yet technology allows people to connect.

Unfolding a Vision

This studio is about what we can do to enable sustainable futures. Vision in a sense is simply another kind of scenario, but it’s one you want. A scenario is a hypothetical history at a certain point in time. A vision is a preferred part of probable sets.

What transitions would your vision entail? How did it happen?

Three horizons, Model of Change

  • paying attention to the entailments of the hypothesis portrayed.
  • Horizon 1,2,3 (present, transitional, where we end up)
  • H1: fading paradigms and technology
  • H2: transition paradigms and technologies, what arises en route including conflicts
  • H3: Pockets of the future found in the present
  • A relative of backcasting
  • Aimed at providing the most likely projection of future conditions.
  • Ability to predict future is strongly constrained.
  • Even if future were predictable, In cases of long term societal problems like sustainability, the most likely future may not be the most desirable.
3 Horizons Exercise
Class 10- October 2, 2017
Imagined Timeline of Our Future’s History

After the three horizons exercise, our group created a detailed timeline of events that will shape Pittsburgh in the year 2050. These events includes various natural disasters, new inventions, government policies, etc.

The artefact that I have chosen to create is a newspaper article that depicts the total loss of the city of Miami due to a hurricane. Because the city has become entirely submerged underwater, the former citizens of the city will have to relocate west to other cities such as Pittsburgh.


Strategies for New Ways of Designing

  1. Examining Needs and Satisfiers
  2. Establishing everyday life/lifestyles as context for design.

Synergistic Solutions: Solutions that satisfy more than one need at the same time

Max-Neef’s Theory of Needs:

In order for a human being to be fully fulfilled. Everyone needs need to be satisfied. Decouple needs from things that satisfy our needs. Every human regardless of when, where they are born, and whatever religion; human needs are all the same. Ways in which we satisfy our needs are more or less sustainable.

  • Needs- Arise from circumstances which engage, motivate and mobilize.
  • Satisfiers- Planned course of action that involve being, having and interacting. There are many ways to satisfy needs
  • Design- tangible result of the action which manifest as a message, artefacts, scripted actions and built environments

Synergistic Satisfiers

  • pseudo satisfiers lead to pathologies of unmet needs. Which contribute to/are embedded within wicked problems and often involve unsustainable design of all kinds.
  • Consequences of designed artefacts, any negative connotations that it may create

Types of Satisfiers

Even though you design something to have a positive effect, it may have negative consequences that you might not have thought about. Are your solutions undermining other issues.

  • Tide Pods- children think it’s candy.
  • Credit Cards- people overspending and going bankrupt.

Synergistic Satisfiers- Solution that solves many solutions simultaneously. Can it become a solution strategy?

Cannot have unrivalled growth on a finite planet. A compass to determine the real needs, to live by.

Can the reconnection of entire lifestyle become a transition design strategy?

  • The character of everyday life emerge from people strive to satisfy their material and non-material needs.
  • Scales of lifestyles

Domains of Everyday Life: The Levels of Scale
  • Nested domains represent different levels of scale at which needs are satisfied. Different levels.
  • Which level should we implement the solution?
  • How to reweave the fabric of community so that they can come together to solve problems.
  • Centralised entities that control satisfiers of needs now controls our everyday life. Large multinationals that are not familiar with our local communities.
  • Once you don’t understand at a local level, communities become hollowed out and fragmented.

Localism: resilience

  • Bringing back the needs back to the local level.

Sustainable Lifestyles 2050

Max-Neef Explained

Needs that have repercussions

Things that undermine needs that doesn’t have consequences. Nature design.

Mapping it out.

Class 11- October 4, 2017


Inhibitors VS. Synergistic Satisfiers

Satisfiers limitless and diverse.

Synergistic solutions that won’t have negative connotations.

  • If you compromise the environment enough, over time it will inhibit all of the factors. The feedback loop is so long that we don’t see that it is happening. iPhone waste gets dumped in electronic waste dumps, toxic wastes seeps into the water table and pollutes the whole region.
  • Apple not thinking about a lot of their consequences. Worker conditions, environmental impact, etc.
  • Respect for others, human is just a single strand. Human centered design to life centered design. Who speaks for the animals? bees?

Service Design 101, Lauren Chapman Luis

I found this blog post to be a great review about what service design is and the importance of it in our modern society. Even though I felt that I knew what service design is, I have not read an article before that clearly defines it and the specific components that are part of it.

I also found the history of service design and how it came to be very interesting and it’s role relative to other fields of design. The convergence of all the different channels of design (Graphic, Industrial, and Interaction) has brought service design forward to coordinate service outcomes.

I also appreciated that the article defined the different types of touch points in service design. These include: people, place, props, and processes.

Changes in Banking Services

The changing of banking services was a great example to demonstrate how there are now so many more service channels that have come into existence in recent times. It is very important for these channels to be coordinated with each other.

Class 12- October 9, 2017


What are we talking about when we’re talking about service design?

  • Airbnb- home owners are connected to travellers. Make money from something that doesn’t generate value earlier. Digital service.
  • Hair Salon- go to a place that has skill that you don’t have. Create something that did not exist before. Non-digital service.

“A service has no or little intrinsic value until the moment of it’s use. — It can’t be stored in a warehouse.”

  • Services have multiple touch points. They are stakeholder centered.
  • coordination between the visible and the invisible.
  • Most service designs have very long engagements. Can be a store experience or redesigning how a company interacts with a customer.

“When you have 2 coffee shops right next to each other, selling the exact same coffee at the exact same price, service design is what make you walk in once, come back to it, and tell others about it.”

  • Looking at business models, not just about $$$
  • Funhaler- making the experience of using inhalers better for kids with asthma.
  • Inner Power Academy- empower young girls who have asthma.
  • When you design a service, you find ways to be resilient.

Speedy Service Design Jam:

Unique services and service touchpoints for sharing music:

For this quick in class activity, we had to brainstorm a design service that relates to sharing music.

Ideation and Service Blueprint

Our group started brainstorming current issues that we felt could be improved in existing music sharing services.

Storyboarding for our scenario

To help aid our service blueprint we created a storyboard to depict how an individual would experience the service.

Once our preparation time was up, each group then had a 2 minute presentation. Most groups utilised the props that were provided by Molly to aid with their narratives.

I found this activity to be a great quick introduction to designing or improving a service. We were able to utilise some techniques to flesh out ideas quickly and present to an audience.

Outside Work:

Possible Interventions and Solutions

For the next class we applied some of the thinking that we had learned about service design to come up with possible interventions that would help improve accessibility to transportation in Pittsburgh and get us to our ideal future in 2050. We focused on creating synergistic solutions that would satisfy multiple needs. The blue post-its are needs that have been satisfied and the red post-its are needs that have been hindered.

The following were the interventions that my group had come up with:

  1. Relocation Strategists: A board formed under FEMA that provide strategies to support mass-migrations off the American coasts, utilizing private companies to support the move with free transportation and relocation services.

2. “Life” Focused Education: Incorporation of environment awareness in every subject taught in the public curriculum, which is also provided for free on a web based platform to support families that may be misplaced from their homes/schools

3. Life Day: A government sanctioned National Holiday, off of work, that celebrates the environment, as well as reflects back on natural disasters that have affected the US and the lives taken. Activities would include workshops and community demonstrations of environmental awareness created by members of the community itself.

4. Fuel-Vehicle Restrictions: Legislation that passes to limit the amount of fuel-running vehicles on the road, for example, no driving on a certain day of the week. Considerations are made for those in an economic situation dependent of this transport.

5. Shared Community Vehicles: A new service that provides a set amount of autonomous vehicles for every community that service members as they require transportation. When the vehicles are in low demand, like at night, they support lower income areas with transportation.

6. Community Center Kit: A group of social innovationists that bring a kit to communities to stimulate conversation around forming community centers, particularly where the shared vehicle hubs are, that will encourage participation, shared-services, and affection towards diverse/new community members.

Car Pool Solution Elaborated

We then chose an intervention that we would like to elaborate more and go into deeper detail. We have chosen to expand and explore the car pool solution.

In addition to using this framework to express our interventions we wanted to extend it by diagraming the impact of the earth’s vs. the individual’s experience. As mentioned above, we pursued this diagram that capture how we might experience our needs being inhibited or satisfied, and how the earth experiences the needs of those needs being inhibited or satisfied. Our close-to-final draft of this diagram (below), maps out each of these needs and with the earth’s and the individual’s experience super imposed on one-another.

Class 13- October 11, 2017

Presentation of our possible interventions to the class.


Service Design: From Insight to Implementation

by Andy Polaine, Lavrans Lovelie, and Ben Reason

Design profession made a huge contribution to the improvement of the standard of living in the developed world. Standard of living has reached it’s natural plateau. We are saturated with material wealth, and our consumption of products is threatening our very existence rather than being a resource for good living. Our focus has moved from efficient production to lean consumption, and the value set has moved from standard
of living to quality of life.

  • Service design simplifies complex services and make them more powerful to the customer.

A common management approach is to divide an organisation into departments, or silos. This may lead to each part of the service being well designed, but the real problem is that the entire service has not been designed as a coherent whole. The customer who experiences the whole also experiences the gaps between the touchpoints.

Many organisations are organised in ways that actually prevent them from delivering good service experiences. Te challenge is to redesign both the service and also the culture of the organisation.

Our Interventions:

We continued to work on our interventions by splitting up into two smaller groups in order to flex out the details for our shuttle loop and water taxi service. I worked on the shuttle loop service and along with my teammates created the service design blueprint for class.

Intervention #1 — Shuttle Loop:

The Shuttle Loop is a fleet of vans that service communities to accommodate the rush hour times of members. These shuttles work a lot like the corporate transit systems such as Google that, or even a school bus, that picks up community members at shared point in the neighborhood, and drop them at their closest work location. This way the need for personal vehicles, the weight of traffic, and the environmental burden is lifted from Pittsburgh. Mid-day and on the weekends the shuttles have a varied schedule that suits the needs of other non-working community members, such as children, the elderly. A handful of these schedules could be modified on-demand by the potentials riders that day.

Shuttle Loop Service Blueprint

Intervention #2 — Water Taxi Service:

The Water Taxi Service revolved around how we can start getting people to both enjoy the city of pittsburgh from a new vantage point and be able to move around the city quicker if they live on route with a river. This would be both a hub for local business and culture to flourish as well as a way to cut down on evening/morning traffic.

Taxi Map created by Treat Swarstad
Scenario Created by Alex Palatucci
Water Taxi Station Created by Lena Norman

Class 14- October 16, 2017


Designing for Social Innovation: Lessons from saving the fish.

“Novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals” — Stanford University
  • fair trade- fair prices paid to producers in developing countries
  • microfinance- lending small amounts of money at low interest to new businesses
  • charter schools- privatise education

The Life Program: Wigan, England

  • New products. D light, LED light that is more efficient than kerosene lamps. Distributed in India
  • Gira Dora, bucket that washes clothes. Help women in Peru from doing laundry 12 hours a day.

Systems design, sum of all your actions and all the outcomes that you are trying to change. Transition design requires layers of change, nested layers of social innovation.

  • 90% of world fisheries are either at maximum fishing capacities or overfished.
  • Largest global commodity in the world.
  • Most wasteful industry in the world, by-catch unwanted species that are discarded.
  • Rampant fraud, mislabeling of products.
  • 10–12% of all fisheries are certified as sustainable

Send anthropologist to 8 different sites to 4 different countries. Traceability systems and story. Collects data about a fish and then tells a story. Any kind of story helps you understand if the fish is sustainable.

Reducing infant mortality in developing countries:

  • Birthing kit to reduce infections and contamination at birth.

Framework for Design Social Innovation:

  • High or low complexity, scale of impact.
  • Simple Wins, Low hanging fruit, Transition design, Deep customised change
  • Which stakeholder view takes presence?
  • Who gives you permission to design for social good?

Indonesia- blows up boats that are illegally fishing

Background on Local fisherman:

  • Mandar and Nudar boats, around 30 of them
  • Fish shelters- to attract fish. Easy to fish.
  • Fisher man don’t know how to swim. Distributed life jackets, however they use them to make more fish shelters.
  • 3–5 days out in the ocean. Balancing how much fuel you have, how much ice has melted.
  • Relationship in the supply chain was very different, very exploitative (fisherman owes money from loans to buy boats). Fisherman saw processors as a caretaker. Are happy about relationship
  • Fisherman work very collaboratively with each other, buddy system. Face the elements without any GPS. Risks on water, use compass to navigate, calculate amount of petrol during trip. Uncertainties and risks to manage. Everyone on the boat has a say about these decisions.
  • Oleh Oleh- gifts, economy of gifting indicative of how relationships are formed. Expected to bring gifts when entering a new community. Top fisherman gets a motorbike or a trip to Meccah.

What patterns or themes do you notice?

  • supply chain as a family
  • the buddy system
  • the gift economy
  • predictability and vulnerability
  • receptivity to new technology

Fisher wants and needs:

  • the weather on water, not land
  • the weather in the future, not throw
  • no interest in business visibility
  • fish pix
  • stay connected on the water
  • shipping lanes/ schedules

Design for mindsets

Class Reflection

I thought that the lecture and the accompanying activity was a great introduction to design for social innovation. I definitely enjoyed learning about how designers approach these complex problems and the process in which they go about trying to make a difference. The fishing crisis in Indonesia was a great example of how to approach such a problem with considerations in mind. This activity has definitely gotten me interested in taking the design for social innovation class in the spring.

Class 16- October 23, 2017

  • Solutionism, where is the problem? Let’s try and solve it.

In class each group created this diagramming map in order to see how transportation issues are connected to other wicked problems that our teammates had been working on. We wanted to see which topic outside their current groups each student is interested in applying their knowledge to. This may serve as a basis for forming new teams to work on the interventions for the rest of the semester.

I personally was very excited for this activity because it allowed me to make connections of my topic to other wicked problems. It also allowed me to see which topic i might be interested in branching out to work on for the next part of the semester.

Class 17- October 25, 2017

At the beginning of class we continued to have further discussions with other classmates in order to find topics and projects that we may be interested in working on for the rest of the semester. I personally wanted to apply the knowledge that I had on public transportation and work on a project that involved people from other wicked problems. I decided on working with Tiffany, Ji Tae, and Ty whom all have been working on different wicked problems. We all were interested in trying to create opportunities to help improve people’s quality of food for those who do not have access to them. This topic involved the knowledge on transportation, food and other disciplines.

Below are our initial notes on the formation of our project:

Project Criteria & Foundation

Identify the problems that lead us to focus on this intervention:

  • Lack of ways to share information about food: We know that there’s people at food banks who like to cook and know how to prepare different kinds of meals but there’s not many ways for them to share recipes and knowledge about food.
  • Not many effective solutions: There are a lot of band-aid solutions to tackling food accessibility. There hasn’t been a truly groundbreaking solution that helps people who are in food deserts. At what point do these solutions fail? What are the hurdles they face in helping residents who lack access to fresh produce?
  • Lack of steady income and jobs: Low-income residents who are in food deserts don’t have steady income a lot of the times. They have trouble finding jobs that work around their schedule and needs.
  • Lack of access and money for transportation: There are many residents in food deserts who need fresh produce but can’t afford or get access to transportation. Currently, there are groups that help deliver meals from food banks and kitchens to those who can’t get around. People commute very far distances just to get a meal.
  • Food waste is a massive problem: Food waste is a huge problem that we’re facing on a global scale. We hope that our intervention helps to mitigate this wicked problem in some way.
  • Housing costs are so expensive: Low-income residents have to save up money to maintain their rent and utility fees. As a result, they can’t afford to buy healthy, fresh produce as often. If they apply to the Affordable Housing Agreement, they often times have to move across the county which causes them to lose their network of familiar friends, businesses, resources etc. This would require them to figure out new commuting plans and places to get food.

Here are some notes from our discussion. Statements with an asterisk are ones that we want to get more information on:

  • Currently, low-income people have trouble accessing food in their area. So much of Pittsburgh is made up of food deserts. Low-income residents have trouble getting to the food banks and kitchens because transportation is expensive and not that accessible in all parts of the city.
  • Fast food is readily available and cheaper to purchase. It’s quick and easy to get. Therefore, many people reach for it. Low-income residents often don’t have the right tools or resources to prepare meals.*
  • We want to do more research into Meals on Wheels and how it’s impacted the community. How is it effective and how is it not? How is it funded?
  • In past interviews with people at food banks, I found that many of them actually had past experiences working as cooks. Many of them also just love food or cooking in general.
  • Cooking is very much a social activity. Sharing food isn’t a new concept.
  • We hope that our intervention would tackle both transportation and air quality in different ways. We want to wean people off of depending on food banks and public transportation. By partnering with organizations like Meals on Wheels or 412 Rescue, we’d be reducing the amount of vehicles being used to deliver food resources.

Research Questions:

These are a list of questions we hope to get answered in the coming weeks. This also answers the kind of impact we hope to have on the community.

  • How could low income residents make money selling home-cooked meals in their community at a cheap price?
  • How can people find cheap meals in their neighborhood that’s nutritious?
  • How do we create better channels or methods for them to share knowledge about food preparation and healthy eating?
  • How do we get low-income residents to try new produce at food banks?
  • How do we build upon existing infrastructures and resources to alleviate the issues that low-income residents face being in food deserts?
  • How do we better distribute tools, resources and education around healthy eating habits?

Perceived stumbling blocks:

  • How will we get around food and health regulations?
  • What’s the social network like offline/online for residents in food deserts?
  • How do we spread awareness and access to cooking tools and resources?
  • How do we combat issues of transportation in getting resources and delivering home-cooked meals?

What’s the design opportunity we want to achieve?

  • We want to change people’s habits around cooking and sharing food. We hope to create better channels of communication between people living in food deserts so that they can share recipes, meals, resources, and more.
  • We hope that people find better ways to educate themselves and each other about the food that they’re consuming.
  • We want to create economic opportunities for people in the community to share affordable, home-cooked meals. This idea is scalable to different communities. It works not only within food deserts but also on college campuses, in cities across the nation and worldwide.

Studio: Moving Forward

We need to consider the tensions that we’ll be facing in our project moving forward. There will be times where things feel familiar and times when things feel very uncertain. There will be a push and pull between humility and a level of expertise.

Things to consider:

  • As a larger team, we need to pull our weight on the project.
  • What do you want to get out of this project personally?
  • What do we want our final deliverables to be?

Next steps and ideas:

  1. Identify what problems lead you to focus on this intervention
  2. Keep track of the pivots you make in this journey
  3. What are your research questions that you want to investigate?
  4. Start to define the design opportunity? What might you achieve by doing this? What value will you provide to stakeholders?
  5. How do we you reframe what we’ve done already? Who is your audience?
Class Reflection:

I am very excited that we are moving into the next phase of the project where we are able to focus in on the aspects of our work we are most interested in. I personally think that this will be much more exciting personally as I would be working directly on a topic that interests me. I am also excited to be working with other classmates with expertise in different wicked problems as I will be able to learn new things from their perspective.

Class 18- October 19, 2017

During the class time we did some research on food sharing to see if there are existing solutions that are similar to our project idea.

Class 19- November 1, 2017

For the rest of the class we split off into our groups to work on the project plan. Working on the project plan with my group helped to clarify our goals and directions that we want to explore further. We will continue working on the plan outside of class in order to refine and submit a second iteration before next class.

From our initial project notes from last class we were able to come up with a guiding statement:

How might the introduction of a barter system between residents in food deserts shape the way that they rely on food banks for produce?
What would we plan on investigating?

We would want to investigate if community members would want something like this. If they do, how would they want to communicate with each other? Would it be best if this worked online or offline? How would we get other stakeholders involved? We want to first focus specifically on getting people the produce they need. If successful, we would expand the idea to help people share and exchange tools such as electronic devices and hardware. From there, people might even be willing to share spaces together like kitchens and living rooms.

Describe how the work done earlier in the term has helped you identify the defined investigation as a worthy design opportunity.

Food: Identified social and environmental issues surrounding food waste when mapping a wicked problem. While researching existing interventions for the DSI matrix, I identified nonprofits operating in Pittsburgh that focused on reducing food waste. I created a max-neef diagram on 412 Food Rescue, a Pittsburgh based nonprofit focused on rescuing leftover food, laying down which needs the org was currently satisfying. While Unfolding a Vision: Three Horizons I was particularly intrigued by 412 Food Rescue’s immediate impact and suggested a crowdsourced autonomous food rescue as an intervention for possible food interventions in the relatively near future.

Transportation: Some of the solutions that we have proposed could definitely be implemented to help us and be used as inspiration for our cause. A significant amount of air pollution is contributed by private road going vehicles. By having a centralized shuttle service to distribute resources we can reduce the number of private vehicles that would have been used in order to solve this problem.

Previous solutions we can take inspiration from:

  • Fuel-Vehicle Restrictions: Legislation that passes to limit the amount of fuel-running vehicles on the road, for example, no driving on a certain day of the week. Considerations are made for those in an economic situation dependent of this transport.
  • Shared Community Vehicles: A new service that provides a set amount of autonomous vehicles for every community that service members as they require transportation. When the vehicles are in low demand, like at night, they support lower income areas with transportation.
  • Community Center Kit: A group of social innovations that bring a kit to communities to stimulate conversation around forming community centers, particularly where the shared vehicle hubs are, that will encourage participation, shared-services, and affection towards diverse/new community members.

Apparently in Finland, the amount of pollution from food waste that is generated annually is the same amount that gets produced from 100,000 cars on the road. We tend to focus so much on how cars and transportation impact air pollution but I think it’s important to look outside of that area and notice how systems like food affect air quality.

During our Three Horizons activity, we also identified that individualism is an issue tied to air pollution. This ties into what I explained earlier about over consumption and use of goods. Ideally, we would want people to move away from feeling the need to have their own things like their own cars for example. We would want people to support the use of shared community vehicles.

We believe that the sharing of resources, from food to living spaces, will reduce the amount of resources used and wasted which will in turn help reduce pollution.

Our team wrote a story to showcase how our intervention would work in the real world and how it would bring value to people.

After finishing up the story that we worked on together we went over them and commented on on things that needed to be clarified and maybe explored further.

Class 20- November 5, 2017

As a group, we came together to come up with the deliverables we want to make in this second portion of the semester. I wanted to see if I could implement some of the knowledge that I have gained on transportation issues into the project. These are the two ideas I want to further explore:

Idea 1.

A shuttle service that delivers food items that are requested to families.

Hypothesis: Because of the many issues of Pittsburgh public transportation (cutting of bus lines), many residents find it difficult to commute to places that they need to attain their food resources. People of Pittsburgh spend up to 30% of their income on public transportation. By having the shuttle service, this will help to save money and free up time and to do other things.

Deliverables: Creating a map for delivery shuttle routes and a timetable for delivery.

Action Items: A mock up system flow of how a resident will place a request, and how the system will be able to fulfill that request. A model of the delivery shuttle. Creating a map for delivery shuttle routes and a timetable for delivery.

Idea 2

Implementing a new program at community kitchens that teach local residents to cook and make food with others. This will promote them to interact and educate them on healthy ingredients and food recipes. The kitchen will also provide all the necessary ingredients for each class. The participants just need to show up with an open mind. They will be able to bring back food that they have made in class and the knowledge to make that meal again on their own.

Hypothesis: People often buy groceries irrationally, not all of their ingredients are used. We can create a way for people to pass on the resources that are not essential to them to someone else who would be able make use of it. If one person knows how to cook with a specific ingredient but another does not, then it is wasted knowledge.

Deliverables: Creating a future scenario of showing the impact that this intervention may have on the community.

Action Items: Creating some of the recipes that the residents would make. A scenario of a participant’s experience. Creating a model of the kitchen space.

Class Reflection:

I enjoyed working on the project plan with my group as it allowed me to see the type of interventions my teammates are interested in working on. It was interesting to see what my teammates thought of the topic as a whole. I am excited to continue working with them in developing our interventions.

Class 21- November 6, 2017

We continued to reflect and work on the project ideas that we had came up with during the previous class.

What do you hope to learn through the study?

  • Understand the most effective method that would encourage people to interact with the our proposed solution.
  • How impactful can our interventions be compared to existing solutions.

What do you perceive as stumbling blocks?

  • Because of our limited time, It will be difficult to see if our intervention was a success or could have been more effective if we had the time to make multiple iterations.
  • Funding and cost issues, will the project be sustainable?
  • Changing current behaviors of participants, closed mindsets into an open one that is willing to try new things and interact with people.
  • What would be the most effective way in order to promote our intervention in getting our project known and accepted.

Class 22- November 8, 2017

For this class I did some research into on my interventions to see if anyone has previously attempted to do something similar and if its a viable idea.

However, after having a conversation with Stuart about our individual ideas we discovered that the professors want us to all work together on one single intervention. We therefore had to come up with a new idea that we can all work on together. The ideas that I had from the previous class were then scrapped. By the end of the class our group settled on a phone booth installation that would allow members of the community to record their concerns and opinions on a phone booth. The data recorded would then be collected, analysed and be passed on to people who can make an impact such as decision makers. We wanted to see if this collected data would have a effect on how policy makers or government officials make decisions. For homework our group worked on further developing the idea.

Class 23- November 12, 2017

Re-pivoting our idea in Phone Booth Installation. Below is my group’s submission on the intervention that we plan to create.

Class 24 and 25- November 14 and 16, 2017

During this class we were to do a speed dating activity where our team would pitch our idea to our classmates. We also had the chance to see what other teams are working on. I found this activity very helpful, by then end of the class we had gotten a lot of constructive criticisms that we can use to improve and refine our idea. In preparation for this activity my team and I put together a powerpoint in order to pitch our idea to our classmates.

We also created an artefact each that is related to the idea. I created a storyboard of how a user would interact with the phone booth and how the recorded data would be collected and analysed.

Below is our document where we recorded the feedback that we had received.

After finishing the document, each of our teammates looked through it and added our own comments so that the teammates can understand each others thoughts.

On Wednesday’s class we were able to talk to Stacie about our project, we recorded the feedback that we received onto the document above.

Class 26 and 27- November 20 and 22, 2017

After meeting with Stacie and talking about what we wanted to achieve through out interventions we came up with these questions:

  1. where do they get fresh produce and how do they get there?
  2. Would they want to see fresh produce sold in the store?
  3. Will the corner store want to carry fresh and healthier food?
  4. What are the current behaviours such as buying habits and why they buy these items.

This helped us narrow down to the most essential questions and we sketched more tangible interventions that would help us learn more through these questions. Each intervention had to be appropriate to the space and each held it’s unique problems. As a group though, we came up with important benchmarks we wanted to hit:

  1. promoting action through “design residue” — do the answers bring up a sense of community?
  2. inviting visual design of the language and feeling we wanted to get across
  3. medium and appropriateness of the intervention in relation to the space
  4. figuring out the answers we were interested in and why those were important to us.

All this led us to plan and create each of our interventions each of which served to help us gain some answers on the questions above.

December 6, 2017

Project Summary — Produce and Corner Stores


According to a study done in 2012 by the Department of Treasury, 47 percent of Pittsburgh residents struggle to obtain fresh produce on a daily basis because they reside in communities known as food deserts. For these neighborhoods, the grocery stores are located over a mile away and on top of that, there is limited access to public transportation. Our team is investigating the buying and eating habits of corner store customers living in food deserts. We are interested in knowing their motivations for shopping at a corner store. How can four related interactive design interventions, placed within the setting of a convenience store, aid our understanding of their subsistence needs of Pittsburgh residents living in food-insecure areas?


The designed interventions would engage corner store customers in a series of four activities based on their shopping and eating habits. There are two map-related activities which inquire about location data and their methods for obtaining subsistence. One activity asks customers to mark which neighbourhood they live in. The results are publicly displayed for everyone to see and comment on. The data will reveal if people travel from nearby or far away neighbourhoods to visit the corner store. The other activity asks visitors to report where they go to obtain fresh produce and more importantly, how they get there. Each customer will create a unique report of this information, allowing us to understand what transportation methods are commonly used in their commute. The third interactive activity asks the customer to explain their reasoning for purchasing an item at the corner store. We want to know what factors, from convenience to price, influenced their shopping agenda. Lastly, at the cash register, we set up an interactive activity asking customers to tell us what items they would like to see sold in the store that isn’t currently there from household items to fresh produce (meat, fruit, vegetables).


Through these designed interventions, we will be able to understand how residents of Pittsburgh, living in food deserts, utilize the local corner stores in their area based on their self-reported shopping and eating habits. If the data we collect from these interventions show that Pittsburgh residents have a desire to shop for or obtain fresh produce from their local corner store, we imagine that future interventions would be directed at corner store owners, food bank organizers and policy makers to understand how we might move such a proposal forward. Pittsburgh residents would no longer have to spend time and money traveling to far away grocery stores and food banks to get fresh food on the table. We believe that these designed interventions would have the potential to reduce the amount of food deserts in Pittsburgh.

My Final Deliverable:

The questionnaire activity that I have created serves to collect data on the food items that customers want in the store. We want to see if their are any demands for healthier food items or fresh produce in specific food desserts. Upon reading the instructions on the box, the customer would then take a token from the side compartment, write down the specific food items the want to see in the store. They can then place their tokens in the categorised jars, they can slide the panel to see the what type of items other shoppers want to see in the store. We hope that the data collected will allow us to be able to convince store owners to stock up on items that customers may want such as fresh produce. Not only would this meet the demands of the customers and possibly encourage them to buy and eat healthier foods.

Final Reflection

When we first started working on this phase of the project I thought that we would be creating an intervention in order to directly try and solve the issue at hand. However most of class ended up designing interventions as a mode of asking questions in order to learn more about the issue. Then hopefully with the new knowledge they would then be able to move forward and design the real interventions that are designed to create change. I am not disappointed in this by any means but I wished that this was communicated to us by our professors at the beginning of the project.

Throughout the process my teammates and i struggled to find an idea which we could work to create interventions on. We had to start over with new ideas many times, the intervention that we decided to finally work on was only decided one week before the end of the semester. I understand that getting feedback and having to change ideas is normal and part of the design process. When this happened every time we try to work on a new idea our group members started to lose passion for the project. There were definitely times when I was not as motivated to work on the project as I did not want to be too invested in an idea that may not work.

Ultimately I felt that with the process that we went through I was satisfied with the final product that I had created. I tried my best with the time that I had to create a product that is engaging and will answer the questions we want to learn more about.

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