I recently invited Seung Chan Lim (aka Slim) to speak to my senior design and illustration students. Slim, a graphic designer with significant experience as a computer scientist dealing in interaction design, proposes a “model of design as empathetic conversation” (in the diagram below). Topics and principles of empathetic conversation include respect, listening, and reciprocity, among others.
After the hour-long lecture that was thoughtful and engaging with excellent visuals to match, Slim led the audience in a two-hour discussion that included stories of making art, computer science, the difficulties of empathizing, teaching design, and resonance. Slim helped to create a space where voices could be heard. The feedback from students and faculty alike was overwhelmingly positive.
In addition to words like empathy, respect, resonance, and reciprocity, Slim used terms like love, hope, and humility. It is not often that these words are used to discuss design, yet they describe what it means to be human. Where is their place in our vernacular? Even the term ‘human-centered’ has become an over-generalized way to remind us that we’re designing for people. I think Slim’s point of view on design is a unique and brave one. It not only challenges designers to remain deeply connected to a purpose, but it reveals his own experiences of humility and insight along the way.
Currently, I am teaching stir (evoking sensory awareness) as a semester-long course at the Rhode Island School of Design. I am fortunate to work with these bright and driven graphic design students in an atmosphere that embraces design as a way to view the world.
If you love animals, you will love our latest class project. Yesterday we paid a visit to Bonniedale Farm in North Scituate, RI. The farm is home to many animals that may otherwise be homeless or destroyed. Dan and his girlfriend run the farm, and take in pigs, sheep, llamas, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, turkeys and probably any type of animal you could name…they never say no and are the only type of animal sanctuary like this in all of Rhode Island. They advocate for animals, provide a safe and happy atmosphere, and spend time educating anyone (including inner-city children) who wants to find out the fascinating and often difficult stories behind each of the animals on the farm. The farm atmosphere offers many opportunities for sensory stimulation, and the reason for the visit was to document these.
Unfortunately Bonniedale Farm will be closed within a month due to foreclosure. This is a harsh reality that many Americans are facing at this time. The community is rallying behind Bonniedale, but time is running out.
The story of this farm will serve as the core of the latest class project. The students have been given an assignment in which they will explore the potential impact graphic design can have and consider how design thinking and making can captivate, engage and motivate people to act. There certainly is potential here for the synergy of ideas, motivation and design to have a positive result. SG
Read the article from the Providence Journal here: http://www.projo.com/news/bobkerr/kerr_column_22_03-22-09_V3DOI72_v20.3260147.html