A reflection on the introduction to Empathic Design

Before this class, I didn’t know what empathic design was, or how it related to me as a designer. These first two lectures have really opened my eyes to so many new aspects of design. I really enjoyed watching the TED talk Why Design Should Include Everyone given by Sinead Burke. I really enjoyed getting to take a look into what life is like as a little person. How so many of the daily tasks that I don’t think about, is a daily struggle, like using a public bathroom. I never thought about how much design can infringe on a person’s independence and dignity. I was very inspired by the struggles she shares and the solutions that she has come up with to overcome them, and I think it would be interesting to pursue this line of thinking and problem solving for the final project. Another aspect of  thinking empathically that I learned this week is remembering to think about how far to go when trying to solve a problem before you make it worse, or make it demeaning for the people(s) you are designing for. That thinking empathically is not a ‘one and done’ kind of thinking, there are many layers to coming up with a solution. The “Kouprie & Visser, 2009” reading was very interesting to me too. I brought up many things that I didn’t realize about empathic design. For example, thinking empathically is not something that I thought about having to practice in order to get better at it. This makes sense seeing as thinking this way is not something I’m used to doing, therefore it is something that I personally need to practice. Another very interesting thing that I learned from the reading is that there are multiple ways to practice and inform empathic design. For example, role playing and observing are two of the main ways to put you in the mindset of the person/thing that you are trying to design a solution for.

My most valuable, but not necessarily oldest, item would be my quilts that I have made with my Granny. These quilts are both materially valuable and emotionally valuable. I love them because they are the product of long late night talks and weekend sleepovers. Each one has its own memory associated with it. The first one we made was when I was about 6 or 7. When we talked about this in class it was interesting to hear all of the different things that people had and felt were their most valuable/oldest objects.

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