Mapping the Design Process

  • A College of Design Graduation
    A parent attending their child’s graduation is a time of joy, pride, and reflection. So if their child happens to be graduating from NC State’s College of Design, why not use it as a time to teach them a little bit about design too? 

    We’ve noticed a common trend among our design school classmates at NC State– our parents don’t exactly know what this “Design” (with a capital D) is. In other words, we’ve got a lot of “design-to-parent” miscommunication. We asked, how can we use a commencement program to teach graduating students’ parents more about design, and help them better connect with their child? 
  • Communicate our process
    Whether a Graphic, Industrial, Architecture, or Art and Design graduate, the most fundamental piece of every student’s education is in the process. We decided this would be the most helpful piece to communicate to parents and relatives: how we use Design Thinking to create and produce our work. We adapted IDEO’s model to form a series of succinct phrases that make each stage of the process more explicit for our audience.
  • Make design thinking personal
    We created six maps of the College of Design campus that represented each phase of the Design Thinking process. 
    For a parent, a commencement program is somewhat of a keepsake, it’s a symbol of their child’s milestone that will be treasured. In order for our little design “lesson” to suit the context, it had to be personal, so we connected our process model to the most personal part of the College of Design we knew: the campus. With 500 students, four years, and too many all-nighters between us, a design student’s campus becomes a second home: familiar with every secret study spot and late-night hangout. Using the campus as a medium for learning more about design seemed the most worthy option for connecting parents to their child’s school.
  • The Final Program
    The final booklet was a sturdy 16 pages, with 200 copies made for Fall Graduation. We printed our six maps on vellum. The transparency of the vellum allowed the other maps to shine through onto each page, and literally connect each map to the next.
  • 1. Discovery
    We collect research and gather inspiration to help us understand the design problem ahead of us.
  • 2. Interpretation
    We create stories to enhance our basic understanding of the problem and help us search for deeper meaning.
  • 3. Iteration

    We use our interepretations as a basis for generating ideas and iterating from multiple perspectives.
  • 4. Experimentation
    We make quick prototypes of our ideas that help us imagine how the design will function in the real world.
  • 5. Evolution
    Looking back at our progress, we begin implementing our solution and see it grow to fruition.
  • Establish a brand
    We also created a series of short GIFs used to introduce each degree at the ceremony- these played briefly before each student from that major received their diploma. Using similar elements from the maps in our program, we sought to both establish a consistent brand between print and digital medium, and encapsulate each major through a short animation.
  • Thank you!