Christina (center) is a designer, educator, and adventurer. She has lived and worked in Tennessee, Vermont, South Korea, and Florida, where she currently serves as Assistant Professor of Art, Graphic Design at the University of Tampa. In her free time, she can be found standup paddleboarding through mangrove tunnels, snorkeling with manatees in the springs, rollerblading alongside dolphins at the bay, rock climbing indoors, biking under trees draped with Spanish moss, soaking up the Florida sunshine at the beach, or doing handstands in her travels.
Singer explores anthropological methodologies as part of her design process.
Design anthropology utilizes methods of research adapted from anthropology to create a design process (click to view). 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.
Design anthropology 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.
Singer applied design anthropology to her MOIDA : 모이다 project. Her 5 years of experience visiting Korea and living there provided the opportunity for authentic friendships to develop. Through immersion, relationships, and her work with an NGO in Seoul, she pinpointed a pervasive social problem to design for. Testimonies, her research into historical and modern Korean culture, and her observations 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 culture is to learn from the humans existing within it. Singer 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 relevant case studies.
It is not enough to make pretty things—aesthetics are essential—rather, the designer’s role is to improve human experiences while empathetically seeking to understand the environments in which they exist.
second star to the right & straight on til mornin