GDE710: Week 5 – human-centered human

This week, we took a quick swim in the deep concept of ideas and thoughts. In Susanna Edwards’s lecture, we’re introduced to Design’s Council’s Double Diamond qualitative approach to design thinking. This approach, which was a culmination of a study of 11 companies, attempted to understand or standardize the design process.

The Double Diamond is just one of many Human-centred design thinking methods. Before we take a look at design thinking, I want to recap a few important notes that I picked up from Edward’s lecture that helped me organize my thoughts around design thinking processes and methodologies.

“Design is the combination of the intuitive and the cognitive” – Bruce Archer.

In the early days, Edwards explains that the design process’s study took on a more linear format. This format was criticized, and newer models allow time to test and evaluate ideas and enable the design to consider a number of ideas at one time.

Edward continues by saying that what matters today is the implementation of flexible systems that allow responding quickly and appropriately to creative change.

In Ian McGillchrist’s lecture “The Animated Brain,” we’re shown how important it is to approach thinking with both hemispheres of the brain. This is not to literally say we’re able to control either side. It’s thought of in a more figurative sense. Each side of our brain signifies a different type of thinking. The right side can be described as the center of sustained, open, vigilant, and alert thinking. The left, however, is more focused on attention to detail. (McGilchrist, 2011)

McGillchrist believes that we are steering further away from the right sides of our brain, more often than not using too much reason and focus on making decisions or coming up with ideas. He ends his lecture by saying that for Reason and Imagination”, we need to use both hemispheres! (McGilchrist, 2011)

Similarly, Daniel Kahneman defines two types of thinking. “System 1” is a fast-thinking style, requires no effort nor voluntary control. “System 2” is a type of thinking that allocated much attention, requires complex computations, subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.

Edwards closes off her lecture by asking the question, “What role does empathy play in graphic design thinking, connecting, and communications?”

With this question in mind, let’s jump back into the topic of the day –

Human-centered Design Thinking

The term ‘Design Thinking’ was coined by David Kelley and is currently the basis of thinking for his design consulting firm, IDEO.

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” – IDEO.

Kelley and his colleagues believe that design thinking in and of itself is a human-centered process. The idea is that this process of design should put the human before the product. (IDEO, 2018) The general principles of human-centered principles are:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Empathy
  3. Experimentation

(Hoffman, 2020)

I decided to partake in a little copying exercise to warm up my hand for the workshop challenge. In this exercise, I took a look at different Human-Centred Design Methodologies. I redrew the figures that were designed to illustrate their processes. These methodologies were compiled in an article written by Libby Hoffman. (Hoffman, 2016)

This exercise was the procrastination I needed to relax my hand and let my hand and eyes do the work. Another reason for copying the diagrams was to help me understand the methods more thoroughly through dictation. To recreate something allows me to see the details that my eyes would have previously skimmed over. I chose 8 of the 10 methodologies to redraw.

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford

In this method, I question the role of “Empathise” by the designer and how effective this might be in specific real-world situations. Stanford defines this phase as the time to “Conduct interviews, uncover emotions, and seek stories.” Still, I feel this is quite a top-down approach that leads to misunderstanding the situation when defining a problem. In Don Norman’s article on “Why I don’t believe in empathic design,” he states that it’s simply not possible to get into everyone’s head. It’s more effective to seek collaboration instead. There might already be experts in this field who can better carry out the research. As designers, our role should be to expertly guide, facilitate, and mentor those we collaborate with before arriving at the next step in this design process. (Norman, 2019)

IDEO, International Design and Consulting Firm

Google Design Sprints

It is a problem-solving framework for product teams to get answers quickly and effectively. It is not intended to produce only design assets. If there’s not enough user research or access to customers to make this worthwhile, then a Design Sprint might be premature. (Banfield, 2018)

Austin Center for Design, Educational Program

DEEP Design Thinking, Design Educator Mary Cantwell

This methodology really stood out to me due to its nonlinear format. As Mary Cantwell described, “Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to learning, creating, and being through empathy.” This is illustrated by how each step constantly starts at the human and works its way out to connect to the next step.

SAP, Software Programming Company (1)

Design Council UK, Charity for Strategic Design

Design for America, Student Social Innovation Firm

Workshop Challenge

For this challenge, I had been focusing primarily on human-centered design thinking as a topic to delve into when deciding which thinker’s process I wanted to explore. The thinker I selected is an Internet personality who goes by the name Unnecessary Inventions. All of his inventions start and end with the user in mind, but in totally unexpected ways. In his video titled “How I come up with my insane invention ideas,” he details his design process for making his inventions (which sometimes come out to be quite useful!)


This week’s output is diagraming Unnecessary Invention’s design process as a sort of board-game that shows how each of these processes can be connected to one another.

In his video, he outlines 6 steps or “rules” and ends the video by saying “but there are no rules. That final statement felt almost like a central rule in which steps could bounce off of. Because his steps are interchangeable and move almost chaotically throughout the process, laying them out in a radial position around this central “no rules” rule was too rigid. So I start exploring ways that this board game could take shape.

At this point, I wasn’t happy with the form as it felt too flat and nondynamic. I sketched out a few more diagrams before settling on a final form:

To preface the final output, I removed almost all text, except for the title, and animated the diagram to show how a player can move across the board:


The game has no real conclusion, so the player will keep looping through the board’s parts, always experimenting, empathizing, and collaborating.

Thoughts and Conclusions

During this week, I focused much more on the learning aspect than the creative one. While this isn’t a detrimental factor, I wish to have focused more on developing the final look of the game. I’m not happy with the visual outcome of this week, but I do like the idea and would have liked to come up with different solutions rather than focusing only on one.


Banfield, R. (2018). When To Do a Design Sprint and When To Do Something Else [Infographic]. [online] Medium. Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2021].

Hoffman, L. (2016). 10 Models for Design Thinking. [online] Medium. Available at:

Hoffman, L. (2020). What are the principles of “Human Centered Design” and how can I put them into practice? [online] Medium. Available at: [Accessed 26 Feb. 2021].

IDEO (2018). IDEO Design Thinking. [online] IDEO | Design Thinking. Available at:

McGilchrist, I. (2011). RSA ANIMATE: The Divided Brain. RSA. Available at:

Norman, D. (2019). Why I Don’t Believe in Empathic Design | Adobe XD Ideas. [online] Ideas. Available at:

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