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design thinking in action a new kind of apparel project Apparel design freshmen in ADES 2221 were assigned an unusual project spring semester: design an outfit for a College of Design faculty member. “This class is an apparel design student’s very first exposure to apparel design research and the design process,” explained teaching specialist Lindsey Strange. “I wanted to challenge them to design for someone different from themselves, for someone they are unfamiliar with," she continued. Reaching out to her colleagues, Strange recruited six faculty members to help with her project. “I had the students design for my colleagues because I could offer more feedback about the individual faculty members. It also gave students

the opportunity to work with someone who was familiar with design thinking and conducting research.”

as inspiration, students were challenged to create their mood boards by drawing from less conventional sources.

Students divided into six different groups, one for each of the faculty volunteers. The faculty members then visited the class so that the students could interview them. Once the interviews were completed, students conducted research based on the interviews with their faculty member. “They researched their faculty member’s background, the topics and ideas mentioned during the interview session, really anything to help them select inspiration for their designs,” said Strange. Barred from using other pieces of clothing

“Students pulled from faculty members’ favorite books and authors to favorite colors and patterns in order to create around 20 design options,” said Strange. “One interesting turn was that each group of students seemed to focus in on a particular aspect of a faculty member, like a favorite color, but each one incorporated that information differently,” she said. Read the full story at

finding a way with interior design What is wayfinding and how do people use this skill?

julie irish When Julie Irish (Ph.D. ’17, Interior Design) was asked to design a school for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), she made the surprising discovery that there was little design research on the topic. This was all the motivation she needed to conduct her own research into how to design schools that are not only friendly for children with ASD, but also help children with ASD develop a crucial life skill—wayfinding.

“Wayfinding is the ability to find our way around. We all do it, consciously or unconsciously, especially when we need to find our way in a new or an unfamiliar environment. We use cues from the environment to help us find our way, maybe a sign, a graphic symbol or pictogram, or a landmark, something that stands out as memorable to us.” What did you do to make wayfinding easier in your research? “In my research, I used several different wayfinding aids that had one thing in common. They all featured color. Many of the schools I visited were devoid of color or had the same color walls, floors, doors, etc., throughout. In a large school this makes it especially difficult to find your way around as everything looks the same.

Adults with ASD have reported particular difficulty finding their way around when they were at school. The wayfinding aids I used were colored doors, colored shapes on the floor, and colored signs. The signs were a combination of text and pictograms, that is, pictures to support the text.”

Also, most children said they enjoyed their wayfinding experience, which is important because if children enjoy an experience they are more likely to want to repeat it.”

How can providing wayfinding aids in schools improve a child’s experience?

“What my research findings showed is that all the participants in the study, nine children with ASD aged 8 to 11, were able to find their way to a destination by themselves using the wayfinding aids. They were able to do this after I had shown them the way the first time and given them detailed wayfinding instruction. This is promising as the results indicate that parents and educators may be able to use wayfinding aids to teach wayfinding skills to children with ASD. This might help children with ASD feel less stress in an environment and may help them become more independent at wayfinding.”

“I applied wayfinding aids along the corridors of an elementary school. The children with ASD who used the wayfinding aids were able to remember colors and shapes and

“Clear wayfinding helps everybody, not just children with ASD.” —Julie Irish

signs along the route much easier than children with ASD who did not use the wayfinding aids. Clear wayfinding helps everybody, not just children with ASD.

How can parents and schools use your research to improve their children, and students’ lives?


Emerging Magazine > Fall 2017  

Stories about alumni, students, and faculty at the University of Minnesota College of Design.

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