This week we wrapped up talking about Biomimicry and moved onto talking about Empathic Design. In class Tuesday we wrapped up our biomimicry discussion by talking about localized relationships. Like how ants work together and react to the positions of their neighbors. We watched a little clip from Vijay Kumar’s Ted Talk about flying robots. The robots detected features of the environment to understand obstacles. The robots were used for something called precision farming. The robots are used to help determine what each plant needs, they can count the number of fruits on a tree, and take models of the plants to find the leaf area index. I found this truly incredible and very innovative. What a creative way to help minimize waste in farming and help grow better crops.
Our activity on Tuesday consisted of picking a problem to solve, starting a company, picking a nonprofit organization, and proposing a business canvas model. My group first picked a problem; fast fashion companies being very unsustainable. We then discussed possible solutions for this problem. We decided on creating a company to provide these fast fashion retailers with sustainable solutions for their business. Our company would ideally come into a “H&M” or “Forever 21” and assess their business, find areas where they could be more sustainable, and provide them with help or solutions to those areas in their stores. We were asked to put our business plan into a business canvas model which I had never heard of or seen before. I really liked using this model because it gave others a quick and easy overview of what our business was about. I could see myself coming back to this model in the future for other projects or possible business ideas.
On Thursday we continued our introduction into Empathic Design by watching a few Ted Talks. The first Ted Talk we watched was about emotional sustainability. I never really considered emotions to be unsustainable, so it was an interesting view for me to learn about. It touched on relevant design and enhancing the quality of life by improving the users experience. Our Second Ted Talk was from Jasmine Burton. Her talk was about going to the bathroom. She gave the statistic that 2.5 billion people don’t have a place to go to the bathroom, therefore that urged and inspired her to design toilets. Her “team of passioneers” is called Wish for Wash, I love that name and the term passioneer! The third Ted Talk we watched was given by Paul Bennett. He talked about bringing together the small to help facilitate the big. He focused on understanding things from the patients point of view.
After we discussed what Empathy and Empathic Design really means we were also shown the website designingwithpeople.org. This website is a very unique and useful tool for people who are trying to get a better understanding of certain consumers who might have different needs and abilities. It got me thinking what type of person I would want to design for. For me I thought about designing a store for blind people. Shopping for people who are blind is probably one of the most difficult things for them. I would want to design a store for them because I personally have never heard of a store geared specifically towards the blind. I would try to make it very stimulating to their other senses to help them find products. It would be cool to incorporate some type of audio system to where each shopper could listen to recordings of descriptions of products as they walk near them and touch and feel them. Understanding who you are designing for can be a difficult thing. Empathic Design is “stepping into someone’s shoes and being a critic to come up with a solution. Designing for the soul”.