I’m a design anthropologist and graphic designer, from editorial to UX/UI. If I’m not examining the world upside down, you might find me kayaking, snorkeling, or hiking. I’m in my final year of the M.F.A. Graphic Design program at the University of Florida. I anticipate graduating in May 2018. For more, here’s my resume.pdf.
a design what?
A design anthropologist.
A design anthropologist utilizes methods of research adapted from anthropology to create a design process. Anthropology is a field of study that looks to the past and present and seeks to understand cultures, people, and the world in which they exist. Ethnographic data such as photographs, sounds, videos, interviews, and observations inform the design process.
A design anthropologist identifies needs and solves problems with the help of the people experiencing them. The result is human-centered design that acknowledges the past and present and proposes solutions for the future. Immersion, observation, and inquiry into a culture inform design decisions.
I applied design anthropology to an M.F.A. project, MOIDA : 모이다. My years of experience visiting Korea and living there provided the opportunity for authentic friendships to develop. Through immersion, relationships, and my work with an NGO in Seoul, I pinpointed a pervasive social problem to design for. Testimonies, my research into the historical and modern Korean culture, and my observations over the years informed the resulting designs.
There is culture in everything, from games to coffee. Every country, state, and neighborhood has its own culture and sub-cultures. The most effective way to understand and design for a particular culture is to learn from the humans existing within it.
I came to understand and identify with the emerging field of design anthropology through the book Design Anthropology Theory and Practice by Wendy Gunn, Ton Otto, and Rachel Charlotte Smith. Doing Visual Ethnography by Sarah Pink has also been an influential resource. IDEO, the hub of design thinking, has a plethora of case studies that employ design anthropology.