Collaboration drives Design Innovation programs
Rowers often use the expression “catching a crab” when one of the crew makes a poor rowing stroke and destroys all forward momentum made by the team. It also happens to be a term used by students throughout the ASU Herberger Institute School of Design Innovation.
“Rowing is a great metaphor for working as a team,” says William Heywood, a clinical assistant professor of visual communications in the school. “You get into the boat as a team – or it flips. You must move as a group or you won’t move at all. If you don’t check your ego, you can’t do it.”
Design Innovation – comprised of industrial design, interior design and visual communications design – is home to multiple, team-based transdisciplinary courses and programs stressing communication and teamwork as benchmarks for project success, including InnovationSpace and the Healthcare Design Initiative.
“Industrial, interior and visual communication designers realize that the most efficient way to connect all of the stakeholders in a project is to coordinate the multiple disciplines from the start,” says Lauren McDermott, the interim director of the School of Design Innovation. “Transdisciplinary teamwork is essential to these professions so it isn’t surprising that we place a high value on it in our educational efforts at ASU.”
InnovationSpace functions on a transdisciplinary model in which students work with faculty members and industry experts from such corporations as Intel, Herman Miller and Dow Corning. Transdisciplinary student teams from industrial design, visual communications, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the W. P. Carey School of Business learn the process of designing technologically feasible products that serve societal needs, create market value and minimize environmental impact.
“The emphasis on use-inspired research, innovation and sustainability at ASU has inspired scientists and researchers to work with design experts in solving some of the most complex and critical problems facing us today,” says Prasad Boradkar, the director of industrial design and InnovationSpace. “Transdisciplinarity is at the core of InnovationSpace. The knowledge, skills and methods of one discipline drastically improve the outcomes of the other disciplines, and the final products developed by the teams become elegant solutions to complex problems because of this process.”
The Healthcare Design Initiative, a part of the interior design program, positions students with industry experts to investigate a range of health-related disciplines in order to provide and improve health care environments.
“The initiative has hybridized the science of design with health care delivery and communications by successfully teaming with the College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,” says Jamil AlShraiky, an assistant professor in interior design and the director of the Healthcare Design Initiative. “Students learn about the culture, central concepts, research and practice tools so that they will eventually generate their own concepts for health care design.”
Heywood, who takes students from the Herberger Institute School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture rowing as part of a team-building exercise, says that transdisciplinary teams are successful if they are able to communicate in emotionally intelligent ways.
“We teach students to have conflicts about their ideas, but to discuss these conflicts by being honest and respectful at the same time,” Heywood says. “Dialogue by consensus gets you a Buick. We position students to design the hybrid, efficient next-generation car.”