Week 11: Research


  • Research and contextualise how disciplines outside of the design industry could help you solve a design challenge.
  • Analyse how intercultural insights and appropriate media can be deployed to solve a creative problem.
  • Contextualise your research into a strategy to help solve the project.
  • Develop and design a creative solution to solve a design challenge that was posted on the Ideas Wall in Week 10.
  • Collaborate and provide feedback on the design solution made by another student to your original challenge on the Ideas Wall.

Research and contextualise how disciplines outside of the design industry could help you solve a design challenge.

Whilst a practical necessity, the division of labour since the industrial revolution has meant that people in roles have had less opportunity to cross between disciplines. In the design industry, though relatively young, new categories are created to define awards categories and work output. Whether this is helpful to recognise different projects or leads to the segregation of a practice that is largely holistic is up for debate. A lot of projects use design as the ‘outside discipline’ to make sense of their project, and I will look at examples of this, does it matter which is the first discipline and which is the one being brought in to solve it? I ask this because the world’s problems that service design tries to alleviate are not design problems, they are practical problems that design has been brought in to help solve. Or, can problems be design-based first?


Redesign of Rape Kit

Through being an advocate for domestic abuse victims at ER and health centres in New York, Antya Waegemann came to understand how traumatising the process of collecting forensic evidence could traumatise the victim and take an unnecessarily long time. Instructions for nurses about each stage of collection and what evidence would need to be collected was unclear, particularly because each nurse would not use a kit that often in comparison to other tasks they took out.

Waegemann used her final project to redesign the rape kit to answer the question of “How we can remodel the rape kit to lessen the cognitive overload of the nurse or doctor so that they can focus on care-giving?” By providing clear instructions broken down into steps, with clearly marked sections for each step, Waegemann wanted to make the process as easy as “building an IKEA chair”. Alongside the kit, she has developed an app for patients that they can download on their arrival at the hospital. This gives them information about what to expect through the process and provide them with a sense of control through the procedure.

Whilst researching, I came across Geert Hofstede and his 6-D model of National Culture. Each country can be represented on a scale between six axioms:

  • Collectivism – Individualism: “Individualism is the extent to which people feel independent, as opposed to being interdependent as members of larger wholes.”
  • Power Distance (small – large): “Power Distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.”
  • Femininity – Masculinity: “Masculinity is the extent to which the use of force in endorsed socially.”
  • Uncertainty Avoidance: “Uncertainty avoidance deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.”

Found later were:

  • Long-term Orientation (Flexhumble – Monumentalist): “In a long-time-oriented culture, the basic notion about the world is that it is in flux, and preparing for the future is always needed. In a short-time-oriented culture, the world is essentially as it was created, so that the past provides a moral compass, and adhering to it is morally good. As you can imagine, this dimension predicts life philosophies, religiosity, and educational achievement.”
  • Indulgence: “In an indulgent culture it is good to be free. Doing what your impulses want you to do, is good. Friends are important and life makes sense. In a restrained culture, the feeling is that life is hard, and duty, not freedom, is the normal state of being.”

This is a framework where every country has its own mix, but comparisons on the separate axes can be drawn between countries and communities to see how they hold different values. This can highlight whether design strategies can be as effective in one community as another.

Analyse how intercultural insights and appropriate media can be deployed to solve a creative problem.

I had a think about my first reactions to design about the benefits and problems we can encounter with intercultural projects on a mind-map.

Notes scan_Page_3Notes scan_Page_6

Design has been used to highlight health crises through the years, and the UN has recently announced a brief for people to design information posters to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

The brief includes this copy:

  • Use any creative medium to produce work that captures one of the coronavirus key messages below, in a clear, impactful and shareable way
  • Capture one of the UN key messages in your work:
    • Personal Hygiene
    • Physical Distancing
    • Know the symptoms
    • Kindness contagion
    • Myth-busting
    • Do more, donate
  • The UN needs a range of creative solutions to reach audiences across different age groups, affiliations, geographies and languages
  • Keep in mind that submitted work will be reviewed by the UN and considered for co-branding and distribution through UN and supporting platforms

You can view submissions from all over the world, and how different culture create content their peers will respond to.

Screenshot 2020-05-08 at 17.32.13

This is similar to an Ebola information poster designed in 2014 by Unicef to educate non-literate people about the symptoms of Ebola by showing illustrations of a person with these symptoms. In different countries, this poster looks different.


By seeing what people are creating in their own cultures in response to the Covid-19 crisis, we can see what might resonate with cultures around the world, Unfortunately I can’t filter by country of entry, but even in the screen shot I took you can see manga influences, maybe from a Japanese submitter? Further down there are suggestions to “Do it Like a Canadian”, an Indian Odissi Dance video, and photos of people making guns with their hands to demonstrate how dirty hands can kill. The submissions are, in essence, crowdsourced propaganda in a way that I haven’t seen before and it is a snapshot of how different cultures are reacting to one event at the same time.


Collaborate and provide feedback on the design solution made by another student to your original challenge on the Ideas Wall.

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