The “Dear Design” website presents interactive materials that invite learners to reflect deeply on how they engage in the design process. The materials are drawn from a 10 week seminar called “Dear Design: Creating your ideal design signature.” This seminar was developed by Dr. Cindy Atman and her colleagues as an in-person seminar in early 2020 in the Human Centered Design & Engineering Department at the University of Washington. Inspired by Lupi and Posavec’s beautiful book Dear Data *, participants create representations of their design process on postcards. This website presents 198 postcards from 23 students who participated in the seminar in the winter quarter, 2022. You can view postcards created in previous quarters here.
Along with the 198 postcards from 2022, the website presents all materials that are used to teach the seminar re-adapted for web use. We hope that this website will be interesting for two types of viewers: designers and educators. Designers might browse the postcards created for each of the topics and perhaps choose to engage with the exercises connected to the topics they find most interesting. Educators might choose to adapt the learning materials to their own educational experiences, using the postcard idea or specific learning exercises.
We hope that you find the Dear Design postcards as inspirational as we do!
Sincerely, The Dear Design website team
Cindy Atman, Grace Barar, Yuliana Flores, Eileen Zhang, Jennifer Turns
* Lupi, G., & Posavec, S. (2016). Dear Data. Chronicle books.
The concept of a “design signature” is woven throughout the seminar. Every time someone engages in a design process, formally or informally, a tracing of their design process activities is generated; this is what that we refer to as a “design signature”. Design signatures vary across different types of design projects, with different goals, constraints, and deliverables. The goal of the seminar is for students to deeply reflect on the types of design signatures that they are generating as they engage in design projects, and for them to develop an awareness of who they are as a designer. The student’s final postcards are their “Ideal Design Signature”, a representation of the way they hope their design processes will look in the future.
For each of the 9 weeks of the Dear Design seminar, students are asked to create representations of their design process on a postcard. Using a different lens each week, students represent and interpret past design projects, projects that they capture specifically for the seminar, and projects they observe. Example lenses include: “what counts as design”, “many design models”, “expert design processes”, and “good designers do ‘X’.” You can view the seminar topic list here!
Sincerely, The Dear Design seminar team
Cindy Atman, Grace Barar, Yuliana Flores, Kathryn Shroyer, Khadijah Jordan, Jennifer Turns