In November 2018 I started to host a podcast on design for social change in Spanish. In this article I explain the background and how a podcast can be a tool for personal development. As designer, personal development happens in everyday work, participation in professional networks and conferences, reading and listening to podcasts. In addition, it could also happen by being a host in a podcast.
The initiative started when I was co-hosting a radio program for the Spanish-speaking community in Helsinki, Ventana al Sur (Window to the South). In the programme, I interviewed Spanish speakers on various topics such as art and politics. I started to do interviews with designers living or visiting Finland. After publishing some of these interviews, some friends made me realise that these materials could have value also for the design community if they are edited in a different way, taking out the information on cultural activities for the community and adding an intro that contextualise the conversations. And things started to happen quickly.
Why do I do it?
1. to support the network of Spanish speaking designers around the world, interested in design for social change
2. to motivate designers to keep up and improve their Spanish professional language skills, especially the ones living abroad
3. to embrace the diversity of designers working in social change
4. to learn and research in a new way
5. to communicate and legitimise new emerging design practices
6. to inspire designers by creating a repository of design stories.
On a personal side, working in Inland Design has been hectic and therefore it has been difficult to find time for thinking about the larger design picture. This personal development work is done in my free time and I do not count it as part of my working hours. The focus of these interviews is on the designers’ own career development, the design projects they are passionate about and the future vision of the profession. In total, I have done 65 interviews to designers working mostly in UX or service design.
How is the process?
- Choose interviewees. Some are friends or colleagues, others I follow in social media, and again others I search for because I want someone to talk about a certain topic or from a certain geographical area. Sometimes interviewees also recommended me others. So, I always have a long list of future interviewees.
- Agree to do the interview online, or face to face and ask for links to their work.
- Read about what they are doing to prepare questions.
- Conduct the interview
- Record the introduction telling about the context of the interview: How do I know the person and why I decided to interview her? And do initial conclusions.
- Edit the audio. Add music.
- Check the final version, publish it and share the podcast in social media.
How a podcast can be a tool for personal development?
Creating a space for quality conversations
There are a lot of interruptions in everyday life: so having the possibility of a one hour talk about what we are doing and why is unusual, even with the designers that are good friendsThe engagement in in-depth conversations about design, once a week, with one designer at the time, it is a good source of learning for me. The mise en scène of the interview allows for good qualitative conversations.
Opening an environment of trust
These interviews are done only to one or two designers at the time but listen by 180 persons per episode. The fact that the interviews are done only to one or two designers at the time creates an environment of trust. It is very different compared to talking to a big audience on stage, which is the most common way designers share their projects and learnings. People interviewed are more relaxed. At the same time they put in their best, because they know that a lot of people will listen to the talk. Therefore, it is like having a private teacher, that tells me about their work and personal learning happens in an environment of trust.
Expanding my personal network of designers
Now, I have an excuse to produce these encounters with designers. For example, last week I participated in a design research conference (Nordes) and during the conference, I could not go to all the sessions that I would have wanted, since there were many parallel tracks. So I asked some of the designers I met by chance for an interview. This gave me the unique chance to get to know them in a private one hour discussion. In addition, several designers have congratulated me for the idea of creating quality content in Spanish and perceived this content as relevant for the design community.
Choosing themes and people that are working in similar areas
I have been a design researcher for more than 10 years, therefore, for me it is normal to be constantly reading, writing and seeking for more information about what other design and researchers are doing in similar areas. The podcast allows me to do my research and forces me to constantly read about design: If I agree to do an interview, I need to read about the interviewee and their work. As an example, I can tell that I started a series of thematic interviews with designers working in the public sector. I talked with designers based in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Paraguay, Mexico, Israel, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. Some designers work at the municipal level and others for the national governments, some work in the government and others for companies providing services for the government. Most of them are service or UX designers and they work on creating digital services. In the future, I plan to analyse the content of these interviews and write on what I learnt doing them.
Learning in the open, is about learning with others
Everything is different when I share the recordings because people recommend me who to interview. A lot of the interviewees are committed to the podcast and from time to time they make suggestions and give feedback. This is about peer learning, even though I do the interviews alone. This is the way, I choose to learn and I am happy that this is useful to others.
This week I start the third season of the podcast. This time is a series of interviews to UX designers working in health, for their community or in education. Future themes that I plan to explore are: feminist design, makers spaces, living spaces, speculative design and sustainable design.
A bit of data
Andy Fechtenholz and Julian Pereyra do audio production. The original music is from a composer and friend, Antonio Zimmerman. The logo was designed by another friend, Sebastian Zelonka. We publish interviews weekly. So far, we have published 29 episodes, done 65 interviews, got 180 persons listening to each episode every week and more than 5200 plays, all together.
You can listen Diseño y Diáspora from here.
Editors: Suse Miessner and Pia Laulainen