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Why Does Design Matter: A Q&A With Design Forward Founder Michèle Morris

Why Does Design Matter: A Q&A With Design Forward Founder Michèle Morris

Why Does Design Matter: A Q&A With Design Forward Founder Michèle Morris

Michèle Morris currently serves as the Associate Director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. She also founded Design Forward. We asked her why Design Forward started. Turns out the answer is simple: because good design matters to the present and future of San Diego.

Q: How did you come up with idea for Design Forward?

A: During my time at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I learned that Don Norman was launching a new design lab in San Diego. I knew I’d be returning to San Diego after business school, so I contacted Don, and in 2015, I joined the Lab.

One of my first priorities was to learn the San Diego innovation ecosystem. I met with civic, business, and community leaders; San Diego’s designers, design firms and design-driven companies. During my exploration I asked ‘How does San Diego define innovation? Who is working in this space and what are they doing?’

As I networked around the city, Design Forward became the prototype of everything. A small, core group of us launched the inaugural Design Forward event to both show what design is and could mean for our region and to test whether there was an appetite for design at scale. The turnout revealed a resounding yes!  Almost 600 people attended the event at Port Pavilion. Speakers included Mayor Faulconer, C-suite business leaders, global design strategists, and leaders from a strong cross-section of business and public sectors (e.g. health, education, urban planning, technology). We started a dynamic conversation around the role of human-centered design in the already lively innovation ecosystem in our area. I’m really proud of Design Forward, and feel so humbled to have worked with and been accepted by a community of designers and innovators who have been working in this movement far longer than I.

Read more.

Michèle Morris currently serves as the Associate Director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. She also founded Design Forward. We asked her why Design Forward started. Turns out the answer is simple: because good design matters to the present and future of San Diego.

Q: How did you come up with idea for Design Forward?

A: During my time at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I learned that Don Norman was launching a new design lab in San Diego. I knew I’d be returning to San Diego after business school, so I contacted Don, and in 2015, I joined the Lab.

One of my first priorities was to learn the San Diego innovation ecosystem. I met with civic, business, and community leaders; San Diego’s designers, design firms and design-driven companies. During my exploration I asked ‘How does San Diego define innovation? Who is working in this space and what are they doing?’

As I networked around the city, Design Forward became the prototype of everything. A small, core group of us launched the inaugural Design Forward event to both show what design is and could mean for our region and to test whether there was an appetite for design at scale. The turnout revealed a resounding yes!  Almost 600 people attended the event at Port Pavilion. Speakers included Mayor Faulconer, C-suite business leaders, global design strategists, and leaders from a strong cross-section of business and public sectors (e.g. health, education, urban planning, technology). We started a dynamic conversation around the role of human-centered design in the already lively innovation ecosystem in our area. I’m really proud of Design Forward, and feel so humbled to have worked with and been accepted by a community of designers and innovators who have been working in this movement far longer than I.

Read more.

Michèle Morris currently serves as the Associate Director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. She also founded Design Forward. We asked her why Design Forward started. Turns out the answer is simple: because good design matters to the present and future of San Diego.

Q: How did you come up with idea for Design Forward?

A: During my time at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I learned that Don Norman was launching a new design lab in San Diego. I knew I’d be returning to San Diego after business school, so I contacted Don, and in 2015, I joined the Lab.

One of my first priorities was to learn the San Diego innovation ecosystem. I met with civic, business, and community leaders; San Diego’s designers, design firms and design-driven companies. During my exploration I asked ‘How does San Diego define innovation? Who is working in this space and what are they doing?’

As I networked around the city, Design Forward became the prototype of everything. A small, core group of us launched the inaugural Design Forward event to both show what design is and could mean for our region and to test whether there was an appetite for design at scale. The turnout revealed a resounding yes!  Almost 600 people attended the event at Port Pavilion. Speakers included Mayor Faulconer, C-suite business leaders, global design strategists, and leaders from a strong cross-section of business and public sectors (e.g. health, education, urban planning, technology). We started a dynamic conversation around the role of human-centered design in the already lively innovation ecosystem in our area. I’m really proud of Design Forward, and feel so humbled to have worked with and been accepted by a community of designers and innovators who have been working in this movement far longer than I.

Read more.

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The San Diego/Tijuana region is a finalist to become a World Design Capital that could mean a year-long promotion of the binational region.

Winners are chosen based on how each region effectively incorporates design across their economic, technological, social, cultural, political and environmental sectors . More than just having a fancy title, winning means a year of events to promote the region, including a street festival, a one-day celebration highlighting the winner’s designs and a design conference that should bring people from around the globe.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to not only showcase our bi-national region as a longstanding design and innovation powerhouse,” she wrote, “but to also shape the narrative around what it means to be a 21st century metropolis, [says Michèle Morris, President of the Design Forward Alliance and Associate Director of UCSD Design Lab]."
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The Idea Lab: A Collaboration Preparing Students For The Future

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As humans, we tend to compartmentalize ourselves as being either logical or creative thinkers. Rarely do we realize that everything we contemplate and create is better when we are both. This unification of both solutions-oriented entrepreneurship and nonlinear design thinking is the foundation of a new UC San Diego student program called the Idea Lab.

The program is a part of UC San Diego’s commitment to being an innovation catalyst and to cultivating future leaders, according to Michèle Morris, Associate Director of The Design Lab. “The Idea Lab program focuses on preparing our students to step into the 21st-century job market with the mindset and skills needed to address today’s challenges with solutions that are not necessarily directed and linear,” she explains. “Being able to navigate ambiguity, engage strategically and collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, and tactically operate in an inclusive, wholistic manner is no longer simply important, it is essential.”

The Idea Lab pilot program was launched in Fall 2020 and is itself a collaboration between two unique centers within UC San Diego’s innovation ecosystem: Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC)/The Basement—a student startup incubator that provides entrepreneurial and leadership programs; and The Design Lab—an interdisciplinary research and education community that prioritizes how humans are impacted by complex systems and technologies.
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