Design for change

Design for change

2020 has been a challenging year and has really highlighted changes in the way we ‘do’ design in the world today. In this myView blog post, Master’s student Megan Mackay outlines her design journey and shares the best of her research, projects, and experiences this year.

Master’ s student Megan Mackay frames her research around ‘positive changes for design’.

Design thinking and my academic mission

In 2019, I gained a Bachelor of Design Innovation, majoring in Design for Social Innovation (DSI) and minoring in Marketing. This year, I started my Master’s in DSI and I’ve worked hard to frame my research around ‘positive changes for design’. As a result, my research has landed on a once critical approach to design which is now known as the generic business term ‘design thinking’.

In a nutshell, design thinking is a methodology that brings the designer’s toolkit to the fore, integrating human need, the possibilties of technology, and the requirements for business success.  

I’m doing a comparative study between the ‘business’ model of design thinking (simple linear steps such as ‘empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test’) and the contrasting process of design thinking that occurs within design practice and education (design thinking as a model for positive social change). Basically, I’m trying to find out if there’s a need for another creative tool or system to help people understand how to use design thinking.

My aim in designing this poster was to make New Zealanders aware period poverty is a big issue which many are unaware of. Since this, it has also been used in parliament by Terry Flemming between Labour and Green MPs. Recently it was used at The Period Place—a large print for their office.

Looking to the future of design, changes due to COVID,­ and where I fit in.

Right now, design is trying to better align itself with more sustainable, empathetic, inclusive, and positive approaches. I experienced this first-hand as we all went into level four lockdown in March.

As a project manager for Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s IGNITE Consultancy team, I was involved in a project that partnered with BioGro NZ.  Our role was to design strategies and systems that would raise awareness of organic certification and define what this meant in New Zealand.

Suddenly we needed to progress this work online and collaborate as a team of students who had never met, working with a client with limited digital capacity–all over email and Zoom! Although there were challenges, we learned new skills and got positive results.

We also attended an online design thinking workshop that helped us come up with new creative ideas and solutions to the briefs we were tasked with.

Around 80% of pollution enters the ocean from the land. The sea lid provides an alternative to the take-away coffee or the new plastic keep cup—made from 100% recycled sea plastic and designed to fit onto the standard re-purposed jar.

Finishing my study and connecting with a global group of young designers.

Through my research, and the network of people my supervisor Nan has shared with me, I’ve had more opportunities to learn about the use of design thinking in large, globally dispersed teams.

I’m currently learning about leadership, co-design tools, and methods as a part of an online team at Parsons Design School in New York. I was also just selected as a member in the World Design Organization’s Young Designers Circle, where I’m collaborating with young designers from all over the globe on a project about shifts in design education. It’s great to be a part of a global team contributing to the future of design!

The Young Designers Circle is also working on other project areas like design inclusivity and sustainable design. During my involvement, I want to help come up with creative ways to engage students in design education, and to inspire them to pursue design as a career.

Thanks to my supervisor—senior lecturer Nan O’Sullivan—for your guidance during my research.

Megan Mackay is completing a Master of Design Innovation in Design for Social Innovation.

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