Today I had the chance to sit down with Thomas Nilsson, the Director of Human Factors here at Ergonomidesign, to discuss some of my research interests and the topics I hope to explore. I have only presented my progress a few times and the meeting was a great chance to get feedback from an experienced design researcher. To begin I described my application essay and the development of my thoughts over the last couple of weeks. For me, the meeting today was a great exercise in getting out of my head. Thomas brought up some interesting ideas and reinforced some feedback I had gotten from Malin.
Primarily I came away feeling that the relationship between “non-designers” and design is a fruitful area to explore. We talked for quite some time about how people who don’t necessarily identify as designers often partake in design activities. For instance, Thomas described online forums where someone poses a question and different roles emerge as people respond. Sometimes there are people who help clarify or define the problem, others who solve it or refine a solution, and more passive observers who learn by watching from the sidelines. These are roles that designers routinely engage throughout the design process, but the people in the forum may have no knowledge or interest in design. We also discussed how people perceive design, and how that might affect their participation in the design process.
We ended the meeting with some open-ended questions about roles of “non-designers” that may be closely related to design. There seems to be quite a bit of potential to explore here and it relates closely to some of my previous work. Additionally, I think it involves aspects of organization and sensemaking, roles among designers and non-designers, and the techniques and skills involved in front-end design methods. Thomas also presented a gateway for starting my research: talk to people who aren’t designers about what they think of design. But then as we also discussed, what group of people do I start talking to?