Skip to content

Don Norman speaks on The Future of Design at the New School of Architecture

Don Norman speaks on The Future of Design at the New School of Architecture

Don Norman speaks on The Future of Design at the New School of Architecture


A crowd gathers as Don Norman prepares to speak on the Future of Design at the New School of Architecture.

At the New School of Architecture in Downtown San Diego, Don Norman, Director of the UC  San Diego Design Lab, spoke to a large crowd about how the field of design is changing and becoming central to education and business. Counter to what most people think, Don emphasized that the field of design is not about making things look attractive. For Don and many others at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, design is a way of thinking.

“One of the important skills a good designer brings to the table is figuring out what the right problem is,” says Don. “Clients say what they want to achieve and the designer comes up with a solution, but they never really address the  problem. If you dig a little deeper for the fundamental issues, your research can lead to innovative solutions, sometimes completely eliminating the original problem.”

Traditional design emphasizes craft skills, but modern design emphasizes thinking skills. This produces two paths for designers: craft skills or thinking skills? Which path should designers take? Don often responds to this question with a famous quote from Yogi Berra. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he says. At UC San Diego’s Design Lab, Don’s team of researchers and students work to tackle the complex problems in education, healthcare and automation utilizing modern design-thinking skills. They believe design thinking or cognitive design… is the future of design.

ABOUT DON NORMAN:

Don Norman is Director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego where he is also professor emeritus of psychology, cognitive science, and electrical and computer engineering. He has been a VP of Apple, executive at HP, and Design Prof. at Northwestern and KAIST (Korea). He is co-founder of the Nielsen Norman group, an IDEO Fellow, honorary fellow of the Design Research Society, member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, trustee of IIT’s Institute of Design, and an honorary professor at Tongji University, Shanghai. He has honorary degrees from Delft, Padua, and San Marino, the lifetime achievement award in HCI from CHI, and the President’s lifetime achievement award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He has published 20 books translated into 20 languages including Emotional Design and Design of Everyday Things.


A crowd gathers as Don Norman prepares to speak on the Future of Design at the New School of Architecture.

At the New School of Architecture in Downtown San Diego, Don Norman, Director of the UC  San Diego Design Lab, spoke to a large crowd about how the field of design is changing and becoming central to education and business. Counter to what most people think, Don emphasized that the field of design is not about making things look attractive. For Don and many others at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, design is a way of thinking.

“One of the important skills a good designer brings to the table is figuring out what the right problem is,” says Don. “Clients say what they want to achieve and the designer comes up with a solution, but they never really address the  problem. If you dig a little deeper for the fundamental issues, your research can lead to innovative solutions, sometimes completely eliminating the original problem.”

Traditional design emphasizes craft skills, but modern design emphasizes thinking skills. This produces two paths for designers: craft skills or thinking skills? Which path should designers take? Don often responds to this question with a famous quote from Yogi Berra. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he says. At UC San Diego’s Design Lab, Don’s team of researchers and students work to tackle the complex problems in education, healthcare and automation utilizing modern design-thinking skills. They believe design thinking or cognitive design… is the future of design.

ABOUT DON NORMAN:

Don Norman is Director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego where he is also professor emeritus of psychology, cognitive science, and electrical and computer engineering. He has been a VP of Apple, executive at HP, and Design Prof. at Northwestern and KAIST (Korea). He is co-founder of the Nielsen Norman group, an IDEO Fellow, honorary fellow of the Design Research Society, member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, trustee of IIT’s Institute of Design, and an honorary professor at Tongji University, Shanghai. He has honorary degrees from Delft, Padua, and San Marino, the lifetime achievement award in HCI from CHI, and the President’s lifetime achievement award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He has published 20 books translated into 20 languages including Emotional Design and Design of Everyday Things.


A crowd gathers as Don Norman prepares to speak on the Future of Design at the New School of Architecture.

At the New School of Architecture in Downtown San Diego, Don Norman, Director of the UC  San Diego Design Lab, spoke to a large crowd about how the field of design is changing and becoming central to education and business. Counter to what most people think, Don emphasized that the field of design is not about making things look attractive. For Don and many others at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, design is a way of thinking.

“One of the important skills a good designer brings to the table is figuring out what the right problem is,” says Don. “Clients say what they want to achieve and the designer comes up with a solution, but they never really address the  problem. If you dig a little deeper for the fundamental issues, your research can lead to innovative solutions, sometimes completely eliminating the original problem.”

Traditional design emphasizes craft skills, but modern design emphasizes thinking skills. This produces two paths for designers: craft skills or thinking skills? Which path should designers take? Don often responds to this question with a famous quote from Yogi Berra. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he says. At UC San Diego’s Design Lab, Don’s team of researchers and students work to tackle the complex problems in education, healthcare and automation utilizing modern design-thinking skills. They believe design thinking or cognitive design… is the future of design.

ABOUT DON NORMAN:

Don Norman is Director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego where he is also professor emeritus of psychology, cognitive science, and electrical and computer engineering. He has been a VP of Apple, executive at HP, and Design Prof. at Northwestern and KAIST (Korea). He is co-founder of the Nielsen Norman group, an IDEO Fellow, honorary fellow of the Design Research Society, member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, trustee of IIT’s Institute of Design, and an honorary professor at Tongji University, Shanghai. He has honorary degrees from Delft, Padua, and San Marino, the lifetime achievement award in HCI from CHI, and the President’s lifetime achievement award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He has published 20 books translated into 20 languages including Emotional Design and Design of Everyday Things.

Read Next

Design Lab Launches City-Wide Civic Design Challenge

Calling all entrepreneurs, designers, engineers and problem solvers!   Register for the Kickoff and Information…

Uc San Diego Design Lab Emilia Pucci

Design Lab’s ‘Designer in Residence’ Merges Theory & Intellectual Practice with Craftsmanship

To be honest I was not very technically savvy in my early days or a…

Ucsd San Diego

Civic Design – DSGN 160: Open Enrollment

This studio course explores how to design products, services, and policies for complex socio-technical systems. The class will follow a human-centered design process that includes user research, concept generation, prototyping, pitching, and alliance building. Students will work in teams to design solutions to civic challenges affecting people in the San Diego region. This will be a good course for intermediate to advanced design students who want to build up their portfolio and to practice their skills with sketching, storyboarding, prototyping, and evaluating services for real-world problems.

As part of this class, teams will enter the Design for San Diego 2020 challenge (D4SD.org) and interact with other innovators, experts, and mentors throughout the city to address problems related to Mobility, Health, Environment, and Housing. Top teams will have an opportunity to present their work and win prizes at events in downtown San Diego!
Lily Irani

Lilly Irani: Seeking to the Community Behind the Wheel in Tech

Lilly Irani is currently an associate professor in the Communication department and an affiliate faculty member at The UCSD Design Lab. She’s the winner of the 2020 International Communication Association Outstanding Book Award and the 2019 Diana Forsythe Prize for her book Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India. Inspired by the work of Lucy Suchman, Lilly’s research in the field of design extends beyond simply “asking what’s right and wrong and for whom,” but encompasses giving workers and communities “an actual voice in shaping the technology” and getting “political agency over the technologies that we use,” as she put it. 

Her involvement with the community is nothing short of impressive. For ten years, Lilly co-designed and maintained a website for online gig workers on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform to let workers share reviews of employers and jobs to take or avoid. Over the last two years, she has grown the software platform into a worker advocacy organization run by Mechanical Turk workers themselves, so they can also organize to improve their work conditions in ways that matter to them. 

More recently, she has worked with the United Taxi Workers San Diego to champion a program to digitize access to taxis for first and last mile transportation in San Diego. This project works towards maintaining good wages and rights for essential transport workers while working towards climate justice by using taxis to make public transit more useful to San Diegans. Design Lab members Udayan Tandon, Vera Khovanskaya, Enrique Arcilla, and Sam Muñoz work on this project. 
Design Lab Uc San Diego Don Norman Creative Education

Rethinking Design Education

Don Norman, Design Lab Director

The Challenge

The requirements of the 21st century are quite different than those of earlier years. New needs continually arise, along with new tools, technologies, and materials. Designers are starting to address some of the major societal issues facing the planet. Does design education prepare them to work with and lead the multidisciplinary teams required to work on these complex sociotechnical systems?

The Origins

We are embarking on a serious effort to rethink design education for the 21st century. We started with the multiple thoughtful articles in two special issues of the journal She Ji on design education (download from our website). This inspired us to assemble a team of senior designers from academia and business to serve as a steering committee to start a large effort to rethink design education.
Diabetes Design

Diabetes Design Initiative Presents Community Challenge Designs To Over 50 Stakeholders

Photo Courtesy of Matt Chesin

This Wednesday, September 2nd, the Diabetes Design Initiative presented the culmination of an entire summer of work to over 50 stakeholders in the healthcare industry. The team shared a prototype that will redefine the way how diabetes is explained without numbers and a new design to simplify data sharing.

Led by Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, director of the Center for Health Design, Design Lab fellow Lars Müller, and Ben West, a nightscout developer, DDI is re-thinking how healthcare technology is designed.
Back To Top