I’m in the midst of writing my essay for our first DESMA course “Perspectives on Design + Management” and yesterday I took a day trip over to Gothenburg to have a group discussion with Anna, Ariana, and Ulises. It was a long day, but I got some nice feedback on my paper and my research project in general.

I packed a lot into the paper, so there was plenty to discuss. It’s still a work in-progress — and will continue to be well after the deadline — but without going into too much depth here is the general gist of it.

1. Very broad overview of contemporary design practice: increasing descriptions of design as an approach for solving complex social problems
2. Brief history of what brought contemporary design to where it is today based on three main threads in its history: design methods movement based on structures and systems, reflective practice refocusing on creativity, and informing design by understanding people (user-centered, inclusive, participatory, etc).
3. Comparing design with experiential learning: meant to focus on the importance of learning design through experience, which makes it difficult to “package” design in the form of descriptive toolkits that are commonly published today
4. Potential for digital technology and online-networks to support experiential learning at a large scale

As you can probably tell, any of those topics alone could be a pretty extensive paper. However, I felt that it is important to touch upon each of them to support my research interest. From my discussion with the group, the pieces of my argument didn’t fit together quite right, and I will have a fair amount of tweaking to do over the next week and a half. I haven’t reviewed my notes yet, but below are some of the key points I took away from our discussion.

– I outline the paper, but I don’t clearly state my thesis, and my purpose
– Most of it is written in the third person and therefore it is hard to discern what are my words and perspective
– Need to clearly describe how and why I’m building my frame for the history of design methods
– Why experiential learning? What are its limitations?
– I don’t mention management at all.
– What’s at the core of my argument? It appears to be that I am expressing the need to explore the space for teaching design that falls between design toolkits and master-apprentice style education.
– Look at how people learn design (Bauhaus) and also how people experience design (serious play).
– Carefully consider the title of my essay
– Also, on a personal note, I need to improve the illustration I use in the paper and also describe what it shows.

Overall it was a great chance to get my thoughts down on paper. I feel like I have started to lay a foundation that I can explore and build upon over time. Previously I had felt like I was totally swimming, but now I think my toes have started to touch sand.