Transdisciplinary Design (Spring 2019)

  • Node A-Gabriella Cooperman and Avni Joshi 2
  • Node B-Gabriella Cooperman and Avni Joshi
  • Node C-Jeremy Barnes and James Dale
  • Node D-Yue Yuan and Jiawen Wang 2
  • Node E-Yue Yuan and Jiawen Wang

The practice of design is shifting. Beyond giving form to complex ideas, designers are moving into the "fuzzy front end" and defining what kinds of things to design in the first place. This requires both a bold curiosity about complex systems, as well as the ability to conceptualize collections of designed things that work together to create holistic experiences. In this course, created for students minoring in design or pursuing the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree in design, students practiced these approaches through iterative projects and collaborative studio work.

In the first project, students explored how experiences are composed of designed objects, and how designed things create certain behaviors and social values. Students rode a MetroLink train and documented what they experienced. They took this information and created a service blueprint that documented the experience of a user of the MetroLink. The service blueprint allowed them to identify roles people have, the physical and digital touchpoints and tools, and the steps along the way to riding the MetroLink. This documentation of experience led students to reflect more deeply on a particular object they interacted with, thinking about its history, influence on society, and design. Finally, students developed two compositions: one to reflect social values and beliefs the object represents, and one that reflects beliefs in opposition to that object’s role.

In the final project of the semester, students worked with a physician at Washington University Orthopedic Surgeons to understand the challenges he faces while caring for patients with sports-related injuries. After a visit to the clinic site, where students conducted interviews with a physician and his care team, student teams designed multi-touchpoint approaches to address key needs. In one project, students developed an app concept to support student athletes in making treatment plan decisions alongside their parents and coaches. Another project developed a tablet-based version of existing EPIC software to help the doctor engage more directly with the patient. The final team redeveloped the patient intake survey to help simplify the process for patients and improve the relationship to doctors.

Each team of students worked to translate what they learned through in-context research into their concepts. They used their varied design skills to create visual interfaces, represent their concept, and present an idea clearly to the audience.

Dr. Matthew Matava, Washington University Orthopedic Surgeons