Coffee and creativity fuel introductory design thinking workshop

DT&Donuts

Living with water, and often flooding, is a fact of life for Louisiana residents. With the destruction from three major hurricanes fresh in the headlines, staff, students and community members came together to learn design thinking principles while rethinking the hurricane season experience.

Design Thinking & Donuts: The Paired Crash Course is a fast-paced, inviting introduction to design thinking. Participants work in pairs and alternate between the roles of user and designer. “The paired activity allows participants to get the satisfaction of knowing they’ve spent 90 minutes helping create a solution for a real person–their partner,” explained Taylor Fellow Piper Serra, who led the workshop. “I think this helps people to realize how empowering design thinking is for both the ‘designer’ and the ‘user.’”

Often called human-centered design, design thinking puts people at the center when developing new ideas. Partners began by discussing a memorable hurricane experience over coffee and donuts to gain empathy for their user. This deeper understanding of a personal challenge served as the foundation to define the user’s problem, and ideate and prototype possible solutions.

As the workshop progressed and participants brainstormed solutions, facilitators encouraged creative thinking not limited by practicality. The room filled with pipe cleaner, tin foil and cardboard creations as participants began to prototype ideas. From virtual reality glasses to a bedside emergency kit stashed with water-proof shoes, phone case and other essentials for an unexpected flood, the solutions were highly-tailored from user feedback collected at each stage.

“This experience offers a compact, compressed full cycle of design from empathy and discovery of the problem(s), through creative idea-generation, to rapid prototyping and testing to get real feedback to generate ideas that are truly human-centered,” said Laura Murphy, associate director of design thinking . “We adapt the challenge for the audience, season and current events so that everyone has experience to draw from.”

This event took place Sept. 22 in Taylor’s new home on the 4th floor of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Watch the Taylor events calendar for the next Design Thinking and Donuts workshop.