Born in raised in Barbados, Debbie Estwick has held many roles throughout her career in design. She has held the role of director of marketing and communications, professor of integrative design, to design advisor. Debbie has a master’s in design and brand strategy and currently is in charge of corporate communications at Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC). She uses design and design thinking to create challenges and collaborator with others to address real world problems affecting Barbados.
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Pluriverse Publication Chapter: Debbie Estwick
Written by Natalie Hudanick
Download a PDF Layout of the Debbie Estwick chapter of the Pluriverse Publication.
To Debbie Estwick, design is nothing without its disciplines. She likes to push the conversations in her work towards which design disciplines can be applied to solve a problem. In her projects and consultations, Debbie likes to bring up the phrase “If this is design, which disciplines apply to this problem?” Through her own background and design training, Debbie has strived to push conversations that emphasize using design is more than just contributing something “pretty”, it is about using the skills ascertained through design disciplines to create something impactful.
Debbie was born and raised in Barbados, studying graphic design in college, and then achieving a master’s in design and brand strategy in London. After her studies she moved back to the Caribbean, first landing in Trinidad and eventually finding her way back to Barbados. Debbie has held many different professional roles, from a director of marketing and communications position to professor of integrative design to consulting. When an opportunity came to utilize her design training, and her experience as a consultant, in the role of a design advisor, and eventually being in charge of corporate communications at Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), Debbie jumped at the chance.
It was at BIDC where Debbie has led multiple projects that she is incredibly proud of. These include Bridgetown 2030, Innovate Barbados, and the Blue Flame Challenge. All these projects are about creating multidisciplinary teams to solve problems within Barbados. These teams have participants from many different disciplines including engineering, design, marketing, and research. All of these projects that Debbie leads are about bringing groups of people together to solve problems prompted by the organizers related to issues that Barbados is facing. Debbie uses design thinking in her projects, specifically the Blue Flame Challenge and Bridgetown 2030, to guide people on how design thinking can help people come together to solve social issues through stepping into other people’s shoes. Debbie uses design and design thinking to get participants in these challenges and her other projects to understand how someone with a different identity and life navigate their shared environment, hoping to create a more emphatic solution.
Debbie believes that design thinking has more power and more of an impact when applied appropriately, using the skills from the various design disciplines. In pushing conversations and projects toward including those with professional design training, she emphasizes that ideas, created in these projects, can have better execution and more of an impact than they would have if a designer had not been included. There is greater value in professionally trained designers because designers have the skill sets from their disciplines to better execute ideas.
The advice that Debbie has for new designers and non-designers is that design is really great to explore, and as your practicing design thinking, you need to remember you aren’t necessarily a designer. Utilizing design and design thinking can contribute to problem solving, but always remember there is a role for the disciplines of design. Respect the value to the persons who have a design degree what they can contribute to a solution. If you want to call yourself a designer or design thinker, you need to have value for design. Read, engage, get involved, but remember it doesn’t ever replace the role of designers and their skill sets within their discipline.
Debbie Estwick is honest when she describes the role of design and design thinking, but it is needed. Design thinking cannot always be used without the skillset and knowledge of those who use it in their own discipline, who are trained in design. Designers, like Debbie, have the ability to make sure that design can have a real impact to address problems, and not just an afterthought as to what should have been done. Involving design helps to make sure that what you may be creating or solving is impactful from all levels, ultimately having more value in what you are producing.
The Hello from the Pluriverse Podcast aims to open up and create a space to have conservations about the pluriversality in design.
This podcast is a project of the Design Thinking for Social Innovation Program at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University.
Executive Producer: Lesley-Ann Noel, Ph.D
Hello from the Pluriverse 2020-2021 Student Team
Hello from the Pluriverse 2019-2020 Student Team