The Design Lab

We are a newly established organization located on the University of California, San Diego campus.

We propose a novel mix of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and Making: TOM. We want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define our approach. Thinking and Making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of Observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

The Design Lab is located within the California Institute of Telecommunication and Information Technology, which gives us freedom to move seamlessly across all the departments, schools, and divisions of the university. Our advisory board includes people from Management, Engineering, Visual Arts, Theater, and the Social Sciences.

Sign up here to receive news about the Lab and our events.

To contact the Design Lab directly, please email, or call 858-822-1343.

The Design Lab is currently searching for a Teaching Assistant Professor!

Think. Observe. Make

This is an exciting time for the field of design. The technologies that the research communities have worked on for the past 25 years have leapt off the pages of academic journals and into the daily lives of billions. What used to be our imagination is now our reality. These have enabled an extremely wide range of innovation in multiple arenas: healthcare and medicine, business, social interaction, entertainment.

But technology only enables: a practical application requires more than the underlying technology. If we build things for people, then knowledge of both people and technology is required. If we are to make them pleasurable, then the creativity and craft skills of artists and traditionally trained industrial and graphic designers are required. If they are to be understandable, then social scientists are required, including experts in writing and exposition. If they are to thrive in the world of business, then schools of management are required. Design aspires to combine these very different vertical threads of knowledge. Design is an all encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts.

Our goal is to create an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory, and making UC San Diego a world leader in design theory and integrative programs.

We propose a novel mix of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and Making: TOM. We want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define our approach. Thinking and Making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of Observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

Want to know what’s going on at the Design Lab?
Check this page for all of our upcoming events or sign up here to receive announcements for our Design@Large talks and other public events.

We love to interact with people, so all of our public events we’re hosting or attending will be listed here. We hope to see you at one of them!

Upcoming Events


At the forefront of the economy, good design IS a priority…the next wave of innovation. – Fast Company

June 16, 2016
Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier

Designers, civic leaders and industry innovators exploring the power of human-centered design in driving San Diego’s economic development and global stature.



Don Norman — Director, The Design Lab, UC San Diego
Sam Yen — Chief Design Officer, SAP
Kurt Walecki — Vice President of Design, Intuit
Global Design Team, GE Healthcare
Mark Cafferty — President & CEO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation
Gad Shaanan — President & CEO, GadLight and YOFiMeter
Peter Haythornthwaite — Principal, Equip Design Integration Pty Ltd
Gabriella Gomez-Mont — Director, El Laboratorio para la Ciudad Mexico City
MaeLin Levine, President, Board of Trustees, Urban Discovery Academy/ Partner, Visual Asylum
Mary L. Walshok — Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs & Dean of Extension at UC San Diego
Victor Nacif — Chief Creative Officer, Brojure & former VP of Nissan Design America/Europe, Global Head of Product Communications

…and many more of San Diego’s designers and design-driven leaders.

Recent Events & News

June 28, 2016

‘Collaboratory’ brings UCSD downtown


The Design Lab joins the Downtown partnership, UC San Diego Extension, and local innovators for the new Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation!

Check out the article in The San Diego Union-Tribune here to learn more about it!

June 24, 2016

The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now


We are pleased to share that San Diego Magazine’s HATCH has featured Don Norman and some of our amazing collaborators/partners as part of “The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now”!

Click here to check out the article and read about what they’re working on in San Diego now!

June 20, 2016

UC San Diego Aims To Become A Leader In Using Design To Solve Problems

Check out this 9 minute audio clip from KPBS Midday Edition featuring Don Norman and his thoughts on turning San Diego into a hub for “design thinking.”

June 15, 2016

Summit unites designers, industry


The Design Lab and collaborators are working to make San Diego a hub of design innovation, starting with Design Forward, a summit for designers held at the Broadway Pier in San Diego.

Check out the article on this event by The San Diego Union-Tribune here!

Also, feel free to go through the official Design Forward website to learn more about the event!

May 31, 2016

Studio Session: Maria Camacho – Designing for Social Good

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Ms. Maria Camacho lectures and does research at the Swinburne University of Technology in Hawthorn, Australia. Maria’s research focuses on strategic & transformative design (design thinking and complexity) and product innovation design. She lectures on design management, design leadership, design thinking, and design innovation.

May 28, 2016

Prototyping Workshop


May 25, 2016

Microvideo Open Reception


Microvideo is a multichannel display of research shorts assembled from across UCSD faculty, grads, and undergrads from across disciplines. Microvideo is curated for the CalIt2 lobby by Design Lab Creative in partnership with CAT (Culture, Art Technology) and the Visual Arts Department and sponsored by CalIt2.

Microvideo will remain on view weekdays from May 25th to September 2016. Thanks to Urban Planning and the Visual Arts department for their support!

May 20, 2016

Performing In Time: Making While Moving
Presented By UCSD Theater Professor Liam Clancy

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In this dance and movement workshop value was placed on going nowhere, on attention, our visceral sense of movement and on perceiving and shaping our experience at the same time.
We engaged this work through the following questions:
– What if we practice harnessing a consciousness of immediacy, explicit mystery, relevance, irreverence and import?
– What it we use compression and imagination to tap into somatic tuning, compositional accident and improvisational decision making to create performance experiences?

May 16, 2016


The Design Lab asked designers from all over one very important question:
If you could tell San Diego one thing about design, what would it be?

Check out the full Link2Design Event below!

Hosted at The Basement at UC San Diego, Link2Design introduced students to the growing design industry in San Diego – demonstrating the power and value of design as a driver for San Diego’s economy, industry, civic infrastructure and quality of life. The event gave students an opportunity to hear from a panel of industry leaders about career opportunities, market trends and more.

This event was open to university, college, high school students and faculty.


May 14, 2016

Last weekend, the Design Lab contributed to the event CS Girls Day Out, in which high school girls came in to learn about what some of our locals were working on in the Computer Science field.

About 50 girls attended the talk in the Design Lab and spent the rest of their day learning more about Computer Science, Warren College, and UC San Diego in general.

May 10, 2016 

Don Norman has recently been conferred the Degree of Laurea Honoris Causa in Industrial Design by the University of the Republic of San Marino, recognizing the significant contribution he has made as a world-renowned expert on product design and user-centered design. His multidisciplinary approach to interaction design constitutes the theoretical and pedagogical core of the Master in Industrial Design of the University of the Republic of San Marino.

This is Don’s third honorary degree.

April 30, 2016

The Challenges of Partially Automated Driving
Car automation promises to free our hands from the steering wheel but might demand more from our minds.

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We are pleased to announce that “The Challenges of Partially Automated Driving,” a paper by Stephen M. Casner, Edwin L. Hutchins, and Don Norman, has been published in the Communications of the ACM. Click here to read a copy from the website!

April 17, 2016

April Design Mixer

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As part of the Design Lab’s ongoing celebration of our city’s vibrant and talented design and startup communities, we held an afternoon in the park with your fellow teammates — the designers, entrepreneurs, artists, and organizers whose passion, dedication, and collaboration have brought this city to the tipping point that will rewrite its future.

At the beautiful Spanish Landing park, we brought together some of San Diego’s finest eateries, breweries, and other edifying treats, along with games, activities, and areas for relaxation and discussion. We celebrated ourselves and each other with friends, coworkers, and our families.

April 12, 2016

Andres Tellez Workshop



In this talk, Andres Tellez presented the research he has conducted in design education throughout his academic career, his findings about the expression and development of empathy in design students, and his ideas about how to promote this ability by embracing human-centered design as an educational strategy.

Andres Tellez is a design researcher and educator who firmly believes in the power of design to improve people’s lives, to build a more open and democratic society, and to responsibly create value for organizations. He is a doctoral candidate in Design with a concentration in Design for Learning at North Carolina State University, and he holds a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Pedagogy and a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia).

Andres is experienced in teaching design thinking, design research, and human-centered design, with an emphasis on addressing social issues and real-world problems. Hi goal is to offer students a learning environment based on direct experience and social interactions, where they can create design solutions that are meaningful to them and their communities, and where they can explore and cultivate their design skills.

His research interest lies in the intersection of design and education, exploring topics like the design learning process, design-based learning, teaching practices in design, and design in K-12 education. Currently, his research is aimed to understand how the use of human-centered design methods in the studio can lead industrial design students to express and develop empathy for users and stakeholders of their creations

March 10, 2016 

CSE Presentations for Prospective Students


Presentations were recently held for prospective Computer Science and Engineering students from all over to if they would be interested in attending UC San Diego to pursue their degrees. 5 minute presentations were given showcasing some of the interesting work being done in the Design Lab!

March 8, 2016

Studio Sessions: Urban Projection


Designer and artist Ali Momeni (Professor of Visual Arts, Carnegie Mellon University) was a part of the Studio Session on Urban Projection–the practice of using projection technology to activate ideas and research in public space and real time. This studio session explored urban projection as a tool for public intervention, understanding its technologies, rubrics for creating community partnerships, and strategies for identifying content. Participants learned methods for brainstorming and planning specific to their research or community focus. 

March 3, 2016 

SAP Workshop Visit


Check out our archive of past events here


Sign up here to receive announcements for our Design@Large talks and other public events at the Design Lab.

Spring 2016 – Previous Speakers:

March 30th
Printing Flexible Electronics
Tina Ng
UC San Diego

April 6th
Monumental Activations
Justin Manor

April 13th
The Future Is Dead. Long Live the Future: A Mad Art Journey Through Some Unmovieish Movie-Making Machines
Amy Alexander
UC San Diego

April 20th
Understanding and Reducing the User Burdens in Applications for Health and Families
Julie Kientz
University of Washington

April 27th
Program and Be Programmed
Leah Buechley

May 4th
Rethinking Software Design
Daniel Jackson

May 13th
TRANSFORM: Beyond Pixels, Towards Radical Atoms
Hiroshi Ishii

May 18th
Engineers for Exploration
Ryan Kastner
UC San Diego

May 25th
Project PREMONITION: A Cyber-Physical System for Disease Surveillance
Ethan Jackson

June 1st
Socially Acceptable AI-based City Driving
Maarten Sierhuis

Winter 2016 – Previous Speakers:

January 6th
The Design of Tableau
Pat Hanrahan
Professor of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, Stanford University


January 13th
The Architecture of Jupyter: Interactive by Design
Fernando Perez
Berkeley Institute for Data Science


January 20th
Data is a Design Problem
Ben Fry
Fathom Information Design


January 27th
Dynamic Spatial Media
Bret Victor
Communication Design Group


February 3rd
Big BR for Big Data
Tom DeFanti
Qi, UC San Diego


February 10th
Visualizing Data using Embeddings
Laurens van der Maaten


February 17th
The Soon to be Famous Cracker Jack Principle
Bill Buxton


February 24th
Predictive Interaction
Jeff Heer
University of Washington


March 2nd
Storytelling Tools
Maneesh Agrawala


March 9th
What Makes Software Good?
Mike Bostock
New York Times

To check out our archive of speakers from previous years, click the photo below! 


Calls for Faculty


Design Assistant Teaching Professor (LPSOE) at the University of California, San Diego

The University of California, San Diego is committed to academic excellence and diversity within the faculty, staff, and student body. The Design Lab at UC San Diego is a new initiative, established by the chancellor to become a major international center for human-centered design. We seek a qualified Assistant Teaching Professor to help establish courses in human-centered design.

The job title is also known as Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment: LPSOE. This series parallels that of the research-focused series but with emphasis upon excellence in teaching and other instruction-related activities. Individuals in the position are expected to provide outstanding teaching, as well as to engage in professional activity (including research on pedagogy) and service related to the pedagogical mission of the department and university. This appointment confers membership in the Academic Senate, and, contingent upon promotion, tenure-paralleling security of employment.

The appointment will be made in the department and division most relevant to the candidate (e.g. Division of Social Sciences, Jacobs School of Engineering, Division of Arts and Humanities).

Candidates will be favored who (1) have teaching expertise in human-centered experience, product design, service design, or systems design, (2) have demonstrated superlative accomplishment in the classroom, makers facility, studio, or other instructional milieu, (3) does design research [field studies, ethnography, etc.] (4) show potential or demonstrated educational leadership in areas contributing to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and (5) will contribute to instruction-related activities (e.g., conducting TA training, curriculum development, creation of instructional materials including online instruction, employ new technologies) at the campus, statewide and national level.

Experience in human-centered design is required. Applicants must either have an advanced degree with 2 years of work experience or the terminal degree appropriate to their field. For practicing designers, this will be a Masters-level degree, for others it is likely to be the PhD or equivalent degree.

Salary: Salary is commensurate with qualifications and based on University of California pay scales.

Closing Date: Reviews of applications will continue until the position is filled.

To Apply: Candidates should submit (a) cover letter, (b) curriculum vitae, (c) teaching statement, (d) links to any documentation of teaching excellence (including instructional materials developed by the candidate, summaries of teaching evaluations, on-line instructional segments, reprints of any scholarly articles particularly with a pedagogical focus), (e) a personal statement that summarizes their past or potential contributions to diversity (see here for further information), and (f) three to five referee letters commenting on the candidate’s pedagogical skills, among other attributes (provide referee name, title, address and email). Submissions may also include a portfolio of accomplishments, including design shows, and awards, and examples of implemented designs. Apply via UCSD’s Academic Personnel On-Line RECRUIT.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status.


Research Assistants

Looking for Juniors, Seniors, and Masters students to conduct research in Design Lab alongside Lab Graduate Researchers and Lab Fellows 

Work includes a subset of web, mobile or AR/VR development, software design, designing experiments, running user studies, collecting and  analyzing data and (perhaps) running Machine Learning algorithms to find insights. Being hands-on, learning tools quickly and communicating effectively are non-negotiable skills alongside taking an active interest in the research process. Please make a realistic commitment (keep in mind your class schedule) and plan to stick to your commitment.


Please fill out this Google Form to apply.

Please note, this is not a specific call, but rather a continuous open application, and we will draw from the list of applicants as specific needs arise. We hold interviews only as needed, and you may not be contacted for many months. Once you’ve filled out the google form, please do not contact the lab for information on if/when you might be interviewed. Thank you.



Don Norman, Director (Cognitive Science, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, & Psychology)

Jim Hollan, Co-Director (Computer Science and Engineering & Cognitive Science)

Scott Klemmer, Co-Director (Computer Science and Engineering & Cognitive Science)

Michèle Morris, Associate Director

Advisory Board

Sheldon Brown (Visual Arts)

Judy Dolan (Theater)

Bill Griswold (Computer Science and Engineering)

Lilly Irani (Communication)

Vish Krishnan (Management)


Benjamin Bratton (Visual Arts)

Nate Delson (Mechanical Engineering)

Steven Dow (Cognitive Science)

Deborah Forster (Assistant Project Scientist at Qualcomm Institute)

Ed Hutchins (Cognitive Science)

David Kirsh (Cognitive Science)

Albert Lin (Qualcomm Institute)

Michael Meyer (Design Executive; Lecturer, Rady School of Management)

Kevin Patrick (Center for Wireless & Population Health Systems)

Eli Spencer (Distributed Health Labs, Infectious Diseases, Medical School)

Nadir Weibel (Computer Science and Engineering)

Postdocs and Graduate Students

Matt Erhart (Computer Science Grad Student)

Seth Ferris (Visual Arts Graduate Student Researcher)

Amy Fox (Cognitive Science Grad Student)

Ailie Fraser (Computer Science Grad Student)

Nida Hussain (Computer Science Grad Student)

Yasmine Kotturi (Computer Science Grad Student)

Derek Lomas (Design Lab Fellow, Postdoc Researcher)

Melanie McComsey (Design Lab Fellow, Postdoc Researcher)

Lars Mueller (Design Lab Fellow, Postdoc Researcher)

Tricia Ngoon (Cognitive Science Grad Student)

Vineet Pandey (Computer Science Grad Student)

Steven Rick (Computer Science Grad Student)

Malte Risto (Design Lab Fellow, Postdoc Researcher)

Adam Rule (Cognitive Science Grad Student)


Justine Bui, Student Assistant

Sara Carver, Events Lead

Christine Eco, Administrative & Program Support Coordinator

Colleen Emmenegger, Researcher

Lynn Hao, Student Assistant

Vanessa Pool, Program Manager

Adam Powers, Outreach & Research Assistant

Stephanie Sherman, Creative Coordinator

Design Lab Alumni

Purvi Desai, Grad Student

Catherine Hicks, Researcher

Daniel Kaulen, Researcher

Jonas Kemper, Researcher

Laura Pina, Grad Student

Contact Us

How to get a hold of us:

Main Line: +1 858.822.1343


Campus Mail: 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0436 | La Jolla, CA 92093 USA


Directions to Atkinson Hall

(Design Lab is in Atkinson 1601)

Via Interstate 5 to Genessee Avenue exit

Take Interstate I-5 and exit at Genessee Ave.
Go West on Genessee (From I-5 North it is a right turn; from I-5 south is a left merge)
Turn Left at North Torrey Pines Rd.
Turn Left at North Point Dr.
Follow North Point Dr. as it curves Right and turns into Hopkins Dr.
Follow Hopkins Dr. to the intersection with Voigt Dr.
Park in the Hopkins Parking Structure:
Continue straight (the entrance is just up the hill on your right)
From the parking structure, walk back down the hill to Atkinson Hall. Once inside, walk past the main elevator lobby, and turn down the hallway on the right. We are the first room on the left (1601).


Via Interstate 5 to La Jolla Village Drive exit

Take Interstate I-5 and exit at  La Jolla Village Drive
Go West on La Jolla Village Drive (From I-5 North it is a left turn; from I-5 south is a right merge)
Turn Right at Villa La Jolla Drive
Turn Right at Gilman Dr.
Follow Gilman Dr. as it curves around campus, turn Left at Voigt Dr.
At next intersection, just after Canyon Vista Pool, turn right (still on Voigt Dr.)
Atkinson Hall will be on your left on the corner of Equality Lane and Voigt Dr.
Park in the Hopkins Parking Structure
Continue straight (the entrance is just up the hill on your right)
From the parking structure, walk back down the hill to Atkinson Hall. Once inside, walk past the main elevator lobby, and turn down the hallway on the right. We are the first room on the left (1601).