Investigating Integrated Design: On the Road

 In Articles, Innovations

On the Road

Over the last four weeks, I’ve had a lot of windshield and airplane time visiting respected consultants and leaders at places like The University of Kansas, Trek Bicycles, Steelcase, Haworth and Interface Carpet. Getting a backstage pass to the innerworkings of their team structures and collaboration techniques is providing me a whole new perspective from what I typically see when visiting showrooms and manufacturing facilities as an interior designer. Their design and research staff have taken time to sit down with me and share processes that make them successful.

When this journey began, I was asking…

What does the final product look like if everyone has the opportunity to contribute from the beginning and continuously throughout the entire process?

After being exposed to multiple creative disciplines, this question has evolved into…

What is the root cause of the problem we are trying to solve, and who needs to be involved in the solution?

This adjusted perspective in our approach to providing solutions ties into the Design Thinking Research Method. The College of Creative Studies in Detroit, MI is using this method to educate future product design specialists on how to approach human-centered design and service solutions.

Design Thinking Research Method

“Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding.”

Through research, I’m finding more evidence that successful integrated design concepts and processes depend on end user and client feedback. This user-driven and human-centered, cohesive full concept design allows the it to develop through data collection and evidence-based methods. Ideas and solutions are developed through a collaborative effort, so the end user, or client, can claim more direct ownership of the solution.

Sandy Cochran is the fourth recipient of Hollis + Miller’s Innovation Sabbatical Program, a four-month sabbatical that removes a selected team member from their typical workload to research and explore an innovative topic and bring back their findings to the team for the benefit of Hollis + Miller and the communities we serve.

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