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Why Does Design Matter: A Q&A With Design Forward Founder Michèle Morris

Why Does Design Matter: A Q&A With Design Forward Founder Michèle Morris

Why Does Design Matter: A Q&A With Design Forward Founder Michèle Morris

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.

Read more.

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.

Read more.

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.

Read more.

Read Next

Faculty Positions in Human-Centered Design at the UC San Diego Design Lab (Assistant and Associate Professor)

The Design Lab at UC San Diego (https://designlab.ucsd.edu) seeks candidates fortenure-track Assistant Professor and tenured Associate Professor faculty positions across multiple disciplines to begin July 1, 2022.

Assistant Professor, Design Lab: https://apol-recruit.ucsd.edu/JPF03086
Associate Professor, Design Lab: https://apol-recruit.ucsd.edu/JPF03085
Laura Spencer

Meet Laura Spencer, Designer-in-Residence at the Design Lab

As a leader for innovation and design in every avenue, The Design Lab prides itself on fostering talent with diverse backgrounds; and individuals who look to ask “how far can design’s impact reach?” Laura Spencer is one such talented individual, who currently occupies one of the Designer in Residence positions.  She is also currently a CUE (Computer Using Educators)  Board member, former President of SDCUE, the San Diego affiliate of CUE, and is a Founding Board Member of EquityEDU.

“As the Chief Academic Innovation Officer for Elite Academic Academy, a K-12 charter school in Southern California, I have to focus on bringing innovation into the curriculum,” explains Spencer, “I have to ask myself different questions. How can I implement design thinking into learning? How can I facilitate project based learning? How can I make education more meaningful?” with design thinking and project based learning. And again, just trying to find ways for education to be meaningful.” Spencer’s passion for education has founded her career since her introduction into the working world. In 2010, the educator graduated from Alliant International University- San Diego Scripps Ranch with an EdD in Educational Leadership and Administration. Since then, she has been heavily involved in roles, positions and curricula regarding education, leadership and innovation; such as her time as a Part-time Lecturer at University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education, and as a conference speaker across the country.

Interdisciplinary Powerhouse: Pinar Yoldas is a Perfect Fit for the Design Lab

Pinar Yoldas describes herself as an interdisciplinary designer, artist and researcher whose current research revolves around speculative biology, in which she designs and creates what could possibly be the next steps of evolution regarding human tissues, organs, and bodies. Evolution, in the eyes of Yoldas, includes the potential for humans in the future to possess modular bodies in which humans can interchange or add on additional sexual organs. 

She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego and a member of The Design Lab. While she earned her PhD in Visual and Media Design from Duke University, her interests and credentials don’t stop there. Yoldas also holds a MFA in Game and Interactive Media Design from UC Los Angeles; a MA in Visual Arts from Bilgi University; a MS in Information Technologies from Istanbul Technical University; and a Bachelors of Architecture with a minor is Sociology from Middle East Technical University. Combining her passions for science, art, and undoubtedly, education, Yoldas has impressively served as a bridge throughout her career between five different disciplines and serves as an inspiration for the pursuit and practical application of interdisciplinary science and art studies.
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Telestration: How Helena Mentis Applies Design Thinking to Surgery

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Postdoc Researcher Zhutian Chen is Visualizing Data in Augmented Reality

Currently a postdoctoral researcher at the UC San Diego Design Lab and at the Creativity Lab, Zhutian Chen describes what he does as visualizing data in an augmented reality environment. Chen seeks to visualize data “beyond the desktop” and to “allow the user to interact with [the data].” 

Before joining the Design Lab, Chen originally earned his B.S. in Computer Software Engineering at the South China University of Technology, eventually earning his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. During his time as an undergraduate, Chen was given the opportunity to intern for Microsoft Research as a research assistant where he discovered his newfound interest in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). 

“Before my internship in Microsoft Research, I think [I was] more interested in doing research related to data mining and machine learning,” says Chen. “However, I [found] out that HCI is much more interesting because it makes you engage the human.” 
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