I am Christina Singer, MFA. I am a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where I am currently teaching Design Research and UX/UI Design Strategies. I also practice design through Ody Design, LLC. In my free time, I am likely rollerblading, rock climbing, or petting my two cats. View my CV for more details.
My design philosophy, in short, is:
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.
I explore anthropological methodologies as part of my 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.
…clever design, not just a pretty typeface
I applied design anthropology to my MOIDA : 모이다 project. 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 historical and modern Korean culture, and my 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 with another 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.
These books urge designers practicing anthropological methodologies to hold a questioning mindset and seek first to understand and learn from the communities they are co-designing with rather than enter into a community of others and inflict Westernized design processes and solutions. This type of design requires designers to be self aware and acknowledge their limitations and implicit biases at every step of a project.
Direct communication is important. Let’s chat!
second star to the right & straight on til morning