Michèle Morris currently serves as the Associate Director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. She also founded Design Forward. We asked her why Design Forward started. Turns out the answer is simple: because good design matters to the present and future of San Diego.
Q: How did you come up with idea for Design Forward?
A: During my time at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I learned that Don Norman was launching a new design lab in San Diego. I knew I’d be returning to San Diego after business school, so I contacted Don, and in 2015, I joined the Lab.
One of my first priorities was to learn the San Diego innovation ecosystem. I met with civic, business, and community leaders; San Diego’s designers, design firms and design-driven companies. During my exploration I asked ‘How does San Diego define innovation? Who is working in this space and what are they doing?’
As I networked around the city, Design Forward became the prototype of everything. A small, core group of us launched the inaugural Design Forward event to both show what design is and could mean for our region and to test whether there was an appetite for design at scale. The turnout revealed a resounding yes! Almost 600 people attended the event at Port Pavilion. Speakers included Mayor Faulconer, C-suite business leaders, global design strategists, and leaders from a strong cross-section of business and public sectors (e.g. health, education, urban planning, technology). We started a dynamic conversation around the role of human-centered design in the already lively innovation ecosystem in our area. I’m really proud of Design Forward, and feel so humbled to have worked with and been accepted by a community of designers and innovators who have been working in this movement far longer than I.