Welcome, aliens, to Earth. And while you’re here, please attend our divorce party.
At the August HDRLab meet-up, PhD candidate Yaron Meron led the group in hands-on activities that asked us to think like designers and approach creative practice by making strange.
Here’s Yaron’s report from his HDRLab workshop on Wednesday 29 August:
I introduced the workshop by briefly framing design thinking in both industry and academic research. My research draws from a career in professional design practice, and I’m interested in the different interpretations of ‘design thinking’.
I introduced my PhD research, and the use of performance/dramaturgy as a design method for making everyday professional practice strange, enabling critical distance and reflection. I explained that the workshop would combine professional development and teaching approaches, and go for about 20 minutes. It went for an hour, as people were having fun.
When given the choice, the group chose to experiment with design thinking on new topics, rather than on their own research practices. Perhaps this indicates the informal focus of HDRLab sessions going forward. Perhaps through this external focus, our process-sharing in the HDRLab will contribute to our individual research in less direct, but more surprising, ways.
In the workshop, the group divided into two smaller groups, and each was offered a choice of written design briefs. One group designed a welcome sign for visitors from another planet, while the other designed an invite for a divorce party (their invention).
In between, the groups were prompted by signs, urging them to think about different design aspects – the audience, colours, mediums, and so on.
Following this, the groups presented their design concepts to each other and critiqued them; discussing the aims, processes, outcomes, meanings and possible alternatives.
- Physical designs (see photos).
- Lots of fun.
- An interesting overall outcome was that both groups (despite not being formal designers) appeared to have used methods from design thinking discourses to arrive at their outcomes. These methods included, in particular, persona and scenario creation by visualising the intended audience, and ‘making strange’ by using unfamiliar methods to look at normative communication situations.
As a result, it would be interesting (to me) to run similar exercises again with non-design researchers, but this time on their research areas, to see if and how using design thinking methods might help those researchers to view their research differently…
Thank you Yaron for sharing your methods, insights and passion for research with us!
The next HDRLab meet-up will be on Wednesday 26 September. Writer and Masters by Research candidate Sophie Langley will lead us through an activity drawn from her multimodal essaying practice, asking us to think and make through sound.
As always, there will be drinks, snacks and conversation with your fellow HDR candidates. Come along!
By Stefanie Markidis