FEMALE ANNOUNCER: This is a production of Cornell University.
SHEILA DANKO: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better; it's not. These are pretty appropriate words for us to begin this week's lecture series on how design can be a tool for education. Theodor Geisel, better known to all of us as Dr. Seuss, embedded in those wonderful children's stories our leadership challenges-- our challenges about values, our challenges about how to be a better community citizen.
So in order to embrace that challenge today-- and if you'd take the lights down there-- to embrace that challenge, we're going to look at design a little bit differently than we've been looking at it. We've been looking at it from a product orientation. What's the output? What's the tangible output? But today, we're going to look at it from a process orientation. It's not just about what gets done-- what you design, but it's how you design it. Because in that process of design, you can help people unleash their own creativity and really rise to meet their own inner potentials.
So we're going to look at, in this case, designed of a couple of elementary schools-- the First Ward Elementary School in North Carolina designed by the Adams Group. They literally took the process of designing an elementary school and opened it up to the entire community of users. The process of design that the Adams Group uses is called participatory design process.
And it is just what it says. It means inclusion, inclusiveness. How can we invite all of the users-- all of the people who will eventually live, work, and grow in those facilities to become a part of the process of creating those facilities?
The participatory design process is one of inclusiveness, and it's a lot like brainstorming in that it has great structure. It's not sitting a few people down around the table, representative groups. Participatory process is literally, if we wanted to redesign this lecture hall, it would have everyone that ever had a lecture in this room invited to participate in the process of redesigning this room. It has structure.
And in fact, what you're looking at right now are three different examples of some of the structured exercises they had the K-6 kids go through at First Ward Elementary School. What the Adams Group is trying to do is not just elicit wants and needs, but they're trying to elicit frustrations as well as aspirations-- things that are problematic as well as things that we have strong goals for. And if you read, one of the exercises they do if called "I wish." I wish my lecture hall, I wish my school-- and you fill in the answer to that. And there's no boundaries on your answer.
And in fact, if you look at this young student-- it's a little bit hard to read, but in the middle it said, I wish my school had better food. It's pretty hard to chew.
Now I want you to stop for a moment. And I want you to think about, what does that have to do with designing the physical elementary school? I mean, they can't do anything about that, right? Can anybody think of a way that that little frustration, I wish my school had better food; it's kind hard to chew could be insight for a future portion of design exploration for the designers and architects. Anyone? Laura?
SHEILA DANKO: OK, the idea of height and access is what that brings to mind for Laura. So you see, it's not necessarily only focused about the quality of the food or how tough or easy it is to eat. But these comments can bring ideas forward about other issues of frustration that these young kids can have. Another person. Yes?
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] more bathrooms.
SHEILA DANKO: More bathrooms. OK, and how did you get to more bathrooms from better food?
AUDIENCE: Well, because, like you said, there's not really a way that design's gonna directly the quality of the food. [INAUDIBLE].
SHEILA DANKO: All right, so the idea is digestive problems with the food led to [INAUDIBLE]. Good. I mean, one of the things is really reaching out beyond where you think the focus of the nucleus of the problem is together in other pieces of information. Now, let's focus just on this food issue. Does anybody have an idea how the designers could begin to explore implications of better food on the physical plan? [? Shear? ?]
SHEILA DANKO: A dining hall with more storage space or just a better dining hall. Carey?
AUDIENCE: Better holiday storage and the heat lamps-- the process of heating and cooling.
SHEILA DANKO: The process of heating and cooling the food. That clearly affects the toughness. So originally, we thought this was like a weird, kind of left field idea about better food. It gets really tough. And a good designer will look at that frustration and say, uh-oh. Let's look at that. Where in the system of design intervention do we have an opportunity to effect positive change? Daniel?
AUDIENCE: How about presentation of the food?
SHEILA DANKO: Presentation of the food. You guys started to do this on your brilliant Swatch designs that were so exciting. And I'm going to show some of them in class on Wednesday-- where you started to stretch beyond the obvious design interventions to get to the potential of making really holistic interventions. MacKenzie?
AUDIENCE: And they could also support [INAUDIBLE] school needs to evaulate where its food is coming from.
SHEILA DANKO: Evaluate where a school is coming from-- how the school sources food, how it distributes food, how it presents the food, processes the food all has tremendous implications for the physical plant. Just the delivery of the food has implications for the delivery docs that are being designed. Good. So there's a couple other examples here that represent students dreams and fantasies of what they wanted in their school.
They use verbal methods. They use visual method. They have kids draw cognitive maps of what their dream layout might be. And you might be interested to know that kids don't have any problem doing this, unlike adults, I don't know how to draw a plan. Kids are like, no problem. We'll just get to it because we're so concerned about the right and wrong way to draw a plan.
How do you get the kids, the faculty, the adults-- everyone involved-- to dream? And everyone does this. You're looking at children's examples, but they also have these wish lists, these cognitive maps from as many and as holistic a representation of users in the space as possible. That's to get at needs and goals. One of the things the Adams Group does-- and actually, I'm going to pull up their website real quick. Would you pull it up?
Because I want to just highlight their process. If any of you want to work for a fantastic firm, these guys are brilliant in the process of choreographing participatory design. It's a very difficult thing to do. It's always more complex. You're not just managing a team of 10 representatives. You're managing hundreds of people. And you have to engage them meaningfully. And you have to take their suggestions.
The very worst thing you can do in a creative process is to ask for input, pretend that it meant something, and then just go about your way and ignore that input-- so processing it. Our design process often begins with formulating the design thesis based on the latest research, but it also is about interviews with community groups, client groups, future users, and walk-throughs They are about conducting meetings, workshops, and this participatory process replete-- we'll go back the slide presentation-- with all of these creative exercises to try to elicit needs and wants in the beginning of designing any of them, and they do this for schools.
They do this for churches. They are masters at it. They will do it for anyone who's serious about making the commitment to engage in a participatory process. They go beyond just trying to uncover needs. One of the things that participatory process does brilliantly is it brings in lots of different minds-- lots of different perspectives. A six year old's perspective of frustrations is going to be very different than a teacher's perspective. It's going to be very different than the maintenance worker's perspective.
This is very important in the design process. But what you're looking at here is the Adams Group wisdom in saying, the process isn't only about getting the functional parameters of a building together. The process is about the joy of learning and the joy of exploring. So what you're looking at here is a kickoff workshop for First Ward Elementary, where the Adams coordinated with the art teacher to have everyone create custom tiles to celebrate in an artful way a piece of them being a piece of this community.
And they promised that the tiles would somehow be used in the facility design, even though the architect didn't quite know how that would happen yet. Now that may sound odd to you, but one of the tenants of creativity and creative process is being comfortable with chaos-- comfortable with ambiguity. He literally had to wait to see what he got out of this process before he could figure out how to meaningfully use it in the design of this facility.
And in fact, this is some-- just a few excerpts-- of what he got-- these custom tiles created by parents children alike, glazed and fired. Look at the richness of the viewpoints. And in fact, they now grace the entryway to First Ward Elementary a few years later, after that process was started. They literally were built right into the brick facade as a permanent feature.
And in fact, this was a tile that one of the children did of a portrait of the architect. And he's pointing to his. So there's the kids all celebrating and holding up theirs before they were installed. And on the left, you see some of them installed.
Now I want you to think about that from a legacy standpoint, from a permanent standpoint. What are the intangible messages being sent to these kids about the value of their input? Daniel?
AUDIENCE: It kind of gives the ownership of the school.
SHEILA DANKO: Gives them ownership of the school. In fact, research has proven in design behavior literature, that when you can give somebody ownership of the creative process in which something is taking place, they value that solution more. They protect that solution more. Ownership, creative involvement is often used in places where there is a distinct lack of ownership. They're trying to get a community to take ownership and protect a joint park or a commons area, and it works. There's another comment up front here. Ashley?
SHEILA DANKO: They have a sense of empowerment they can actually achieve. And in fact, they also are being reinforced in their self-concept. Human development majors, I want a little help from you here. Self-concept is not self-esteem. It is not self-confidence. It is something related but different. Does any of my human development majors want to offer a definition of self-concept? You were going to do it. Oh, come on, come on, come on. We'll build it together. We'll build the definition together.
SHEILA DANKO: OK.
SHEILA DANKO: All right, and your name?
SHEILA DANKO: So Emily is right in that she's saying, it has to do with children understanding that their input matters-- that it is valued. It happens to come from a moment in time. But in fact, it has implications for their growth over time. Is there another comment? MacKenzie?
AUDIENCE: I think someone's self-concept is sort of navigated by the way that they, as a person, they're a person that, like, fits into different systems, whether it be something like school or even something bigger, like the government or the world in general in all these different levels.
SHEILA DANKO: OK, so that's a good way to think of it. She used very nice choice of words here-- how their personhood fits into different systems-- kind love how they fit in the world. But personhood is really a good term. Because of the way I was taught to understand self-concept is that it is the belief in your ability to. The belief in your ability to learn, to produce, to be a contributing member of society.
It is absolutely foundational to all education. If you do not believe that you can, then it's very difficult for you to get past that crumbling foundation to be able to produce. And so a healthy self-concept is critical to all forms of education and growth. And this kind of participatory process helps nurture that healthy sense of self-concept.
Let me show you another example that the Adams Group did. We're going to look at different school, same region, North Carolina-- Raleigh, North Carolina-- same architect, the Adams Group, Davidson Elementary. When you walk in the front doors of Davidson Elementary, this is what greets you-- a welcome mural. Welcome to Davidson Elementary. These are little ceramic montage that all of the children in the school created before the school was built and incorporated into the front entry foyer.
The Adams Group teamed up with the art teacher to say, we want something that celebrates Davidson Elementary at this moment in time and for the future. And so the art teacher created a program that every child in this school from K through 6 contributed to that mural. Now you might be thinking, well, now, wait a minute. They have different skill levels. They have different gross motor, fine motor skills. How is that possible?
Well, what she did was she very strategically created a mural where the younger kids did the clouds, a little bit older kids did the buildings, the oldest kids did self-portraits. This was part of the art project that was woven into the curriculum and then became and moved from the curriculum to the legacy of the building and now graces the building.
This is a Hillside mural-- some kids did the flowers, some kids did the leaf. You might be sitting there asking yourself, well, wait a minute. The kids that got to do the portraits are probably real happy, and the kids that got to do the leaves, you know, pff! That probably doesn't mean so much to them. I would have thought the same thing-- had this little girl when we were touring walk by us as we were photographing. And right away, immediately went up to the hundreds of leaves on the mural and said, this one's mine.
Now she's much older than when she did that. But boom! This one's mine. And in fact, she said, you want to see another mural? My brother did a tile over here on this wall. Her brother's gone. He was a sixth grader when she was a much younger kindergartner, first grade student. And there's his title-- sense of ownership, sense of belief in your ability to contribute. And it becomes, especially-- the designed tool-- the role that design plays is that this is a permanent part of the building. This becomes a legacy element in the structure.
The Adams Group actually worked and got grants with the art teacher to engage outside artists to do other-- to create, essentially, a program of artistic installations for the new building. The first one I'm going to show you is toy utopia. It was Mrs. Fields, Mrs. Barry's and Mrs. McCall's class with the fifth grade students under the supervision of local area artist Robin Wilgus and Adriana Thomas. All the toys were donated by the children of Davidson elementary school. And there is toy utopia that happens in another portion of the building.
There's some other murals in a corridor that happen as part of the intervention of community, outside artisans coming together with the art teachers with the architect who said, these kinds of interventions in a new school building are very important. But I want you to understand that it doesn't take necessarily a big, expensive elaborate intervention. Just look at the artwork and how it's placed on the wall at Davidson Elementary-- a child's piece of art that isn't just tacked on the wall slapped on the wall, but it's framed and mounted with great respect on the wall. What are the messages being sent there?
So it's not just what you do, it's how you do what you do. It is the process that you bring something into being. Let's move off Davidson Elementary and talk about another project that I think is wonderful. Many of you are going home to New York. If you go to Riverside Park in New York, you can see this beautiful example of a new carousel that was designed by children under the supervision of a local area artist who chose-- from 1,000 drawings, he chose 36.
And these designs were, essentially, created and manifested in a full-size carousel where they not only created their beautiful imaginary ideas, but look at the signatures on the base of the carousel. Desperately and critically important that when you include people in the process, you give them credit for their contributions to that process and as visible a way as possible. Look at these wonderful creatures.
Now one of the things you have to understand that's also critical to the process-- and this is a good illustration of it. If these kids didn't just do drawings and then the artist went and tidied them up and turned one into a zebra-- they said, no. We don't need to tidy up this artwork. We don't need to transform this imaginary beef into something we can all recognize.
This is the beauty of these visions. It's very tempting for us to overlay our own structure, and interpretation, and needs for understanding on top of children's work. But if we're wise enough, when you ask people to participate, you will take great pride and take great trouble to maintain that artistic vision and the integrity that you get. This carousel is so successful in Riverside Park.
It has been featured in the New York State's Parks and historic guide as a local area asset that they encourage people to go see, and explore, and experience. It might be covered up by now. It's not just public places, parks, and schools that you can have this kind of intervention. You can do this in any business. Here's a fun example of a competition to making works of art in a Band-Aid designing contest-- by Curad.
And what they did was they created an entry form. They formatted it for consistency. They gave a few guidelines-- here's what we need to know. And then of course, notice the legal garb-- always a part of American interventions. And the results were Designed It's a number of years ago-- Band-aids with beautiful, wonderful, creative artistic expressions by kids of all different ages.
And then, the recognition is on the box. Here's a favorite one of mine-- happened a number of years ago. Heinz said, gee, what if we create this thing called the Creative Design Awards and we let kids run wild with imagination, and they can design the label on the ketchup bottle? OK, all these ideas sound exciting, right? Think of the marketing team. Going, you want the kids to do what?
We talked about brand identity. We talked about how hard people work to maintain and recognize brand identity. So you've got a whole bunch of execs sitting around the table, they're going to redesign the label on the ketchup bottle that we put, hello. Somehow, though, somebody was willing to take a risk. Experimentation and innovation prevailed and, in fact, that was done.
And there were a series of "Pour on the Fun: limited edition labels that were designed on Heinz ketchup bottle. Look at that label design. Can you still tell it's Heinz ketchup? Yeah, why? Because where's the brand identity, a lot of it, in Heinz ketchup? Shape of the bottle.
I want you to extrapolate and push one step further. What if when we went to grocery stores, the products, every once in awhile, became an art experience? Think about that. What this example, I think, represents for me and, I hope, for you when you remember it, is looking for potential. Looking for unique opportunities to not just sell Heinz ketchup, to not just celebrate children's artwork, but maybe to change our very understanding of what our daily experience could be, might be, and to bring joy and inspiration where we generally would never look to find it.
All right, let's talk about marketing and packaging for a little bit right now. Here's a box of really cool, obviously, robotics toy. What do you see? What are the messages being sent? Let's have some shout outs, or raise your hand and I-- yes.
AUDIENCE: Well, it kind of seems like it's meant for boys.
SHEILA DANKO: Seems like it's meant for boys. All right. Emily?
SHEILA DANKO: Science boys, because look at the glasses. OK. Dan?
AUDIENCE: Those kids are geniuses.
SHEILA DANKO: That those kids are geniuses, man. Look at that. I mean, they are playing with this high-tech toy. What else does it say to you? Stina?
AUDIENCE: They're dressed as adults, so it's giving respect to them?
SHEILA DANKO: They're dressed as adults, so it might be affording them some respect for their ability to think hard. Good. What else do you see? What other messages are in this box design? Yes, Ashley?
SHEILA DANKO: I'm sorry, Shanika.
SHEILA DANKO: Pardon me?
AUDIENCE: They have a role in [INAUDIBLE].
SHEILA DANKO: They have a role in making this. And where are the cues from that?
SHEILA DANKO: OK, the idea that they're exploring intently, taking notes. Yes?
AUDIENCE: I think it tells parents that their kids will stay very focused.
SHEILA DANKO: Their kids will stay very focused while they're playing. All right, good. Yes, [INAUDIBLE]?
SHEILA DANKO: One kid has a name tag, so maybe he's more important. What else do you see?
AUDIENCE: The RadioShack logo?
SHEILA DANKO: OK, Thomas, the RadioShack logo.
SHEILA DANKO: OK, you can get it at a local area chain. Good. All right, what other messages?
SHEILA DANKO: It's educational, all right. What's left out of this? Who's left out of this?
SHEILA DANKO: Adults. Maybe that's OK.
SHEILA DANKO: Girls.
SHEILA DANKO: Fun.
Yeah, maybe. I mean, they're pretty serious. All right, look at this package now. And I'm sure that the marketing people had all good intentions when they were designing this package, and they wanted nothing more than to sell a great robotics toy, and it is a great robotics toys. I bought it. My husband loves it.
But look at the hidden messages being sent in the packaging. This is science. Science is work. This is for boys. This is for white boys. It's more work than play. Look at the bow tie, the glasses-- there's a lot of stereotyping here in this package design.
Now again, the point that I want you to think about is, I really do not believe that a group of people sat around and said, how do we erode one group's self-concept and build up another group's? I don't believe that. But design intent. Just because you didn't intend something to happen, a negative impact, doesn't mean that your design might not have negative impact.
And that's the ability to think about the implications of what you're designing deeply, and to question yourself, and to challenge yourself, which these people obviously did at some point, because that was the next generation. And now, we have kids that are happy. Well, you know, they're smiling. They're dressed normally. We have a little bit of diversity, although the girls are still left out.
This isn't a psychology class. We're not going to get into all of the human development implications. But I think it's fairly easy to see how the design implications connect to implications of human development. Yes?
SHEILA DANKO: Wouldn't their target market be mostly boys? So, I mean, this is about sales. This is about business. Yes, it is. But you have to think about whether or not you are layering your preconceptions on top of the purchase group; whether or not, in your value system, is that the right thing to do to, essentially, promote this stereotype because that's what's always worked before?
That's why we started talking about developing your own values consciousness in this class. You need to identify where you are and where you want to take yourself in the planet, and then start thinking about how every action you take supports that or starts to undermine that.
SHEILA DANKO: Why not? Maybe we should be asking, why not? And, how could we? So that maybe we gave boys the permission to play with toys that we're now telling them, you're not allowed to. That's not part of what-- how you're supposed to grow up. That's not part of what you're supposed to be playing with. So you're right, but it's the questioning process that I think we need to push ourselves on.
And it's a good place to start. But we wouldn't do this. And then ask yourself, but why not. Well, because of these norms and standards. Well, are those valid? Could we change those? Should they be changed? If they should be changed, how could we help-- how can I help change those? A seemingly insurmountable problem. Carey?
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I mean, they're limiting their sales. If it's about sales, why wouldn't they make it more gender neutral? I have a little boy and we go to target or wherever-- they totally limit whatever is in the pink aisles, because he just won't walk down them.
SHEILA DANKO: And in fact, they do walk down them until they start seeing these messages. And at some point, they hear that. I remember my son was wearing all kinds of colors until, at one point, he surprised me with, no, pink is for girls. Like, well, dad wears pink. Well, no, pink is for girls. And I thought at that moment that, hmm, what outside influences are controlling him more than me at this point? I had to begin to ask myself those questions. Because I think he looks smashing in pink.
And my husband looks smashing in pink. And again, these rules-- so it's the questioning process. What I'm telling you to do is, you are very bright. And my goal in this class is to turn you into creative problem solvers, and that process begins with questioning where you want to go, how you want to get there, what role you can play. Young Aspirations, Young Artists-- a group down in New Orleans dedicated to helping youth at risk recognize their own potential, develop self-esteem and self-concept through the creative process.
Young Aspirations Young Artists, YAYA, takes old furniture, redoes it, and allows the youth groups, the local area youth groups, to, essentially, transform that furniture into a personal statement. They allow them and push them to think about what statement they want to make. How do they communicate that through paint on a piece of furnishing?
They've become extremely successful. They have lots of galleries. Their furniture is now very highly sought after, contributing to their understanding that the message they're giving us is of value to me. When I look at a piece like that and I want it, it means that it's helping me grow in some ways. It's helping me do something inside of myself that I'm willing to pay money for. They not only do furniture but, in fact, they have broadened out their explorations, thinking more globally.
One year, they designed explorations for fabric slipcovers for the UN's 50th anniversary-- the United Nations' 50th anniversary. And what you're looking at are two different studies of fabric slipcovers. They were going to propose to cover all the United Nations' chairs in these very artistic slipcovers.
I mean, look at the messages. Look at this sophistication. Look at the exploration. And look at the impact. In fact, they did cover and celebrate the UN's 50th anniversary with these slipcovers. Potential for change. It's very hard to track. It's very hard to know. But these change-makers of the world walked in one day and were getting messages from traditionally and underrepresented, undervoiced class in society, which is usually our youth that are under age to vote. That's why it's so important to vote!
You can only hope that some of those people were moved to a different level of action, motivation, as a result of sitting there that week that those were on. They also have designed Swatch watches for that same 50th anniversary celebration. And I just showed you a little close-up detail of the top part of the watch and the bottom part of the watch-- exactly what you just did on your design proposal.
So lest you think that that was totally hypothetical and would never happen, in fact, it already has happened-- the idea of celebrating diversity. And YAYA did it in coordination with the UN.
This is part of the message I want to leave with you. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guide who'll decide where to go.
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It's not just about
what you design, it's how you design it.
In this lecture, Sheila Danko, professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology, uses case studies to examine the design process, including the inclusive, participatory methods employed by The Adams Group in their design of First Ward Elementary School in North Carolina.
DEA 1110 focuses on issues of leadership, creative problem-solving, and risk-taking through case study examination of leaders in business, education, medicine, human development, science, and other areas who have made a difference using design as a tool for positive social change.