By Uday Dandavate
Uday kicked off the discussion by drawing a visualization of nine niches for design researchers plotted on top of a framework called “the landscape of design practice,” which was developed by Dr. Liz Sanders. This framework divides the design landscape into four quadrants: design-led with expert mindset, design-led with participatory mindset, research-led with expert mindset, and research-led with participatory mindset.
Participants began by marking all the niches they have explored in their professional work in the past five years. Next, everyone looked at the clustering of marks on the board and discussed what the patterns revealed about current opportunities for the design and design research communities.
The participants were then asked to write words representing the skills he/she would like to see developed in a design education program of the future that would help future design professionals serve each of the nine niches available in the marketplace. At the end of the exercise, the whiteboard was populated with over a hundred ideas.
The group stepped away from the board and commented on why some of the skills were beginning to define the future of design practice. This prompted a greater discussion on building a capacity for empathy, storytelling, embracing ambiguity, and participatory work practices.