Demystifying Design with Dr Harah Chon

Friday Feb 15,2019 | Social Space Cafe Hop

Coffee houses have a long tradition in society as places where people gather to share stories and socialise over a cup of coffee. In this spirit, we launched the ‘Social Space Café Hop’ where we bring together changemakers in the social space and our readers, to learn from one another.

In our second edition of Social Space Café Hop series held at Kith Cafe (Bras Basah), we invited Dr Harah Chon to share about design as a way of thinking and frameworks for social innovation in design. Harah is a Korean-American design practitioner, researcher and educator, who is currently Lecturer-in-Charge for MA Design at LASALLE College of the Arts. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event.


1. All Good Design Begins with Good Research

In order to develop a really good concept, designers first need to focus on gathering information - What do people want and think? What does the context demand? This requires them to have empathy for people and to understand their problems and environment, uncover their latent needs and desires, and how they interact with their environment. Empathy helps designers set aside his or her own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into people's needs and wants.


2. Oversimplification of Design Thinking


Design thinking is not a linear process and we should throw caution to oversimplifying it, thereby diluting its influence and impact. It is a discourse where design practice and competence are used beyond the design context. In a way, it is a simplified version of "designerly thinking". With a focus on empathy, design thinking is an iterative process of understanding the needs of people and developing and adapting a solution to meet those needs. Design is about more than just creativity and generating new ideas.


3. Design and Social Innovation


Through an emphatic approach, designers tend to have a better understanding of social needs in a way that creates unimaginable opportunities for the betterment of society. The challenges of society require practical and sustainable solutions, not just a myriad of new ideas. Design brings with it both the capability to strategically meet the needs of the people and the competences to deal with constraints.


To find out more about designing for social impact, check out this Social Space Magazine article written by Dr Harah Chon about Plan D: Design and Social Responsibility.