CMACD | Design Thinking and Doing
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Design Thinking and Doing

The minor so far

design thinking methods and tools

In ideation and the design thinking process, a tool box can be very helpful.


Click the box to see the different design thinking methods and tools that I have exercised in my minor.

“How not to design”


During the design theory seminars, numerous interesting topics, perspectives, research methods and design processes were uncovered. The below extract from Kees Dorst – Understanding Design (2003) was fascinating to me and moreover, for the first time, I saw mistakes I did through trial-and-error written down and discussed.


• Always cling to your first idea.

• Jump into the details immediately.

• Solve one aspect of the problem first.

• Ignore a stakeholder, preferably a vital one.

• First design the form, then see how it should work.

• Promise too much to the client.

• Don’t listen to your client, lie to him if necessary.

• Be inflexible in your ideas and approach.

• Try to surprise your client with a completed design.

• Ignore tests that say the design might be below par

• Wait for inspiration.

• Stay ‘fresh’ by not gathering information.

• Do not plan (because that takes too much time)


Click the image on the right to see my analysis of other articles in the seminar.


Artwork by The office of creative research spotlight (Noa Younse)

Project 1


Group Work & Collaboration

Part of the WAAG society is the research TextileLab Amsterdam, it focuses not only on alternatives for the fashion industry by exploring emerging technologies and interdisciplinary work, but also wants those solution to change consumer behaviour.


TextileLab Amsterdam also offers a place to create and experiment with open source tools and machines for the industry. Existing machines and tools are hacked and new work processes explored.

The Brief

It’s not easy to raise awareness and it’s even harder to change behaviour! Often it’s done in similar ways, but what else is possible besides a typical awareness campaign?

TextileLab Amsterdam is looking for ways to involve consumers (which we all are) and to develop new stories with them! These stories need to be based on the research the lab does and/or inspire our work and research agenda. We want stories that we can share (think of videos, photos, strong text) and methods that we can replicate.


What is the WAAG Society?

Doing design research

  • We started our desk research by looking into the textile lab’s previse projects and the WAAG society as a whole
  • Amongst the group, we divided the research of the “linear economy” currently used by the fashion industry.
  • Natural resources, Take, Make, Disposal (image below)
  • We conducted interviews to discover the consumer’s opinions
  • We sent out a survey to our chosen target group (early teens)
  • We did some observation research on the consumer’s shopping behaviour

Employing empathy and understanding in the design process

When I first started this minor I was surprised that employing empathy was taught as being the epicentre of design. In the fashion industry empathy is rarely seen because it is currently unsustainable both on a human and environmental level. A change needs to be implemented but it is also important that the consumer is involved in the change. Therefore, we created a prototype to see what our target group would do if they had their own fashion brand.

Our Findings

  • At this age the “hype” surrounding a brand is very important
  • Most teens didn’t know about the environmental impact of clothing and its production.
  • Social media and their friends are most influential in what they wear
  • Their parents give them the finances to purchase these hype branded clothes and shoes
  • Wearing big brands gives them a social status that is important
  • The human cost of the clothes does not influence their consumer behaviour
  • Almost all of the teens did not know what happens to their clothes after its disposal i.e. linear economy.

Generating  ideas

We used a number of different methods from the toolbox to create interesting ideas. Clustering, brainstorming, creating a persona, known/unknowns, feasibility/likability graph, how might we and reframing.


Right image:

An example of one of the brainstorms.

Our design proposal

In the end we chose to make a toolkit (above) that can be incorporated into the curriculum of MVO schools in The Netherlands. MVO would typically have students inside our target group’s age. These four sectors we designed the box around were:


  • Agriculture class
  • Economics (economie)
  • Care & welfare (zorg & welzijn)
  • Technical studies (techniek)


Therefore, we would need to cover a wide variety of elements, have the teacher’s support and a fun toolkit to teach these young students in a new and exciting way.


The contents of the toolkit include:

  • Instructions for the facilitator
  • Introduction video for the students
  • A sewing kit
  • Fabric swatches (right image)
  • Raw material samples
  • Branding kit (create their own label)
  • Marketing materials

Selecting ideas

Some of this ideation we did silently/individually, which I found beneficial because after it we each had original ideas that others did not think of. However, selecting the best ideas was challenging because our target group was not an easy one and we had many players involved: The teens, their parents, friends, teachers, influencers and the client themselves.

Project 2


Group Work & Collaboration

The City of Amsterdam is developing major housing schemes to provide 90,000 new homes in the next 10 years within the existing urban fabric. In parallel, an urban renewal program has been launched to revitalize 32 designated deprived neighborhoods. The H-Buurt is one of these designated areas.


In its context, office-buildings are being transformed into mid- and high end housing locations, thus providing new chances and challenges for the H-Buurt. At best, how it can remain connected and tap into the advantages of the changing context? At least how can it not get alienated or isolated by it? On our side, the north, new middle-class housing-schemes are part of a transition of the local shopping center, De Amsterdamse Poort, into a metropolitan area.

The Brief

“Bridging the H-Buurt”


Together, this combination of challenges boils down to and gets tangible in the transition spaces (tunnels) between the H-Buurt and the areas at the North and West. If we can create spatial programmatic solutions to secure and empower these transition-zones as connectors to both areas, it reduces the risk of isolation and increases the chance for the neighbourhood to profit from its surrounding developments.


You need to design, build and test spatial programmatic solutions to connect the H-Buurt to the two rapidly developing areas in the North, aiming to improve the connections and to turn the developments into social and economic opportunities for the residents of the H-Buurt

A podcast about the area in question

Our initial assumptions

  1. The H-Buurt residents feel isolated
  2. People are proud of their neighbourhood
  3. The Nelson Mandela park is not safe
  4. The green spaces are not maintained

Possible solutions

  1. A community radio station
  2. A shared library space
  3. A community vegetable garden
  4. A new park and a shared BBQ

Design thinking – A new way of doing research

For this project we began with little background information, we approached the ‘problem’ by making assumptions, creating possible solutions and after that, going out and testing them on the public with a newly developed prototype.


This alternative approach to research was interesting, testing our assumptions resulted in us uncovering lots of new and original insights into the H-Buurt, it’s residents, their problems and what they really think about your solutions (both the pros & cons). People in this area are tired of talking about the problems they face, however, they are happier to see people approach them with possible solutions instead. It opens up the conversation and makes the interviewee feel more relaxed and comfortable in being interviewed.


Our insights

  • The surrounding development of more cosmopolitan spaces indicates that the H-Buurt might become more isolated.
  • Contrary to our assumptions, residents said the Nelson Mandela park is safe
  • The locals are proud of their neighbourhood
  • We confirmed the green spaces are not maintained
  • A community radio would not work (it is a way-one form of communication).
  • A shared library would not connect the community enough.
  • A vegetable garden would be more of interest to children rather than adults.
  • Would a communal garden/space/BBQ not isolate the residents even more from the surrounding area?
  • In the summer, hundreds of office workers leave work for lunch
  • These business people walk further distance away from the H-Buurt to get lunch and chat.
  • People gather around food trucks
  • There is no flow between the buildings and green spaces.

Design challenge

“How can we create a park where both neighbourhoods
can come together and feel responsible for the park?”

Our chosen focus point and why?

  1. The green spaces are underutilised
  2. A large office complex is in close proximity (people to build a connection with)
  3. There is no flow between the green spaces
  4. Since trees and scrubs are not maintained, the green spaces are very dark and unwelcoming
  5. There are no paths and adequate play areas


Our new “Maatrijk Park”

  • Open up the space more
  • Cut down some trees and use the same wood to build benches
  • Plant a more diverse range of foliage
  • Water fountain
  • Public WiFi
  • Lay down paths to create more of a flow (lunch walks)
  • Space for a food truck (gathering point)
  • Gym equipment
  • A vegetable garden for the local children
  • An improved playground


Project 3

Group Work & Collaboration

The Brief

At the start of 2018, Knowledge Mile BIZ produced a six-point action plan outlining its goals

These were to:


1. Keep its stakeholders informed through marketing, communication, promotions and events;

2. Develop the Knowledge Mile Park1 as a vision for a more attractive, hospitable and accessible future;

3. Facilitate bottom-up collaboration to ensure that the Knowledge Mile together with its businesses, venues and other users are a source of inspiration;

4. Make sure that the Knowledge Mile delivers a balanced offer to all its users; 2

5. Create a pleasant, cooperative and safe environment to live, work and visit;

6. Put people at the centre of its activities (human-centred approach).


This action plan emphasises the importance of ensuring and enhancing quality of life for all stakeholders and recognises that safety is a key concern here. You and your team’s assignment will involve enhancing safety on the Prins Bernhardplein section of the Knowledge Mile.


The Knowledge Mile is a living-lab in Amsterdam that runs from the Amstelplein to the city hall of the municipality of Amsterdam. The Wibautstraat and Weesperstraat are the two main streets at the centre of this area. Both are well known for the urban challenges they face, such as high traffic volumes, flooding and air pollution. The area is also known as a world-class knowledge cluster with the campuses of the HvA, the UvA and Amsterdam University of Arts.


The Knowledge Mile is a platform to establish crucial connections and to achieve productive partnerships, fruitful networks and creative interaction. With a community of 30.000 residents, 60.000 students and almost 200 organisations, hotels, museums, social and municipal institutions together we aim to improve the quality of life in the area, by improving and sharing knowledge and facilitating new connections at our Meetup’s. This is a space to interact and share ideas.


Throughout this project we have used numerous research methods, we initially did desk research by studying the links given in the brief and we found them very helpful in giving us background information on the client and the area involved.  


To honour the client’s bottom-up approach, we felt first-hand information would be most valuable and a more human-centred. Therefore, we conducted interviews in Prins Bernhardplein and the surrounding area to uncover any perceived or actual safety concerns. The responses were varied, depending on the person’s gender, age and relationship with the location. Long term residents felt very safe in the area because everything was familiar to them and they had not experienced or witnessed any safety concerns in the decades they are residing there.


However, the responses were very different for first-time visitors to the area, most of them were not aware of the Knowledge Mile and normally their first experience of Prins Berhardplein is from the perspective of Amstel Station.  We encountered numerous visitors (business professionals and tourists) that were lost trying to get to the CASA Hotel from Amstel Station.

Section: Prins Bernhardplein

Field Research

In our field research, we discovered the shortest route to take is through the tunnel (below) that is under Prins Berhardplein. However, we witnessed several reasons why that route was not being used by the first-time visitors we encountered.


  • The route was not on google maps
  • The tunnel is not easily located
  • There is not enough adequate signage
  • The tunnel looks unsafe (perceived safety).

Area of interest

Designing with empathy

“Walking in this area makes me feel…”


We used a conversation starter to uncover the reasons why the tunnel was viewed as unsafe. We quickly discovered that women felt more unsafe going through the tunnel and would rather take the longer route to the CASA Hotel. The tunnel is quite secluded, dark, has no CCTV and as a result, female visitors immediately weigh up these factors and chose an alternative (longer) route.


We practised numerous different ideation methods during this project. After we did our field research, interviews and prototyping through empathy, it became very important to return to class and ideate. First, we clustered our insights,  did a “how might me?”,  a negative brainstorm, a brain dump and more reframing of the problem



Our design challenge

“How can we help first-time visitors navigate from Amstelsation to their accommodation in an efficient way, so they become less of a target for opportunistic crime?


With the coaches, we presented two ideas to resolve the issues we experienced with first-time visitors getting lost and the perceived (un)safety of the tunnel.


Wayfinding became a possible solution to aid the first-time visitors getting to the CASA Hotel in a more efficient and faster way. By doing so, they would be less of a target for opportunistic crime.


The perceived safety of the tunnel. We felt we could not introduce the wayfinding without improving the tunnel because you cannot guide tourists and/or residents into a tunnel that feels unsafe. Our prototype (below) includes a mirrored interior, to reflect light and give the illusion that the tunnel is bigger. To make it more approachable we also added a walled garden and a few trees to the exterior.

Best practices and testing

Following advice from the coaches we chose one idea to develop fully and the other idea we would keep as a recommendation for the client. As a result, we focused on wayfinding and continued our process by doing desk-research on best practices of wayfinding currently in place around the world. We discovered numerous different types of wayfinding; signage, maps, temporary graffiti, projections, natural wayfinding, solar-powered footsteps and a shuttle bus system.


We developed the idea of a wayfinding signage method, in-and-around the location. A prototype was created and we used this to engage with the public. The results from this testing  and the discussions were:


  • The signage would have helped these first-time visitors find the tunnel route.
  • The signage needs to be suitable for its surroundings and not be “arty farty”.
  • There needs to be consideration on the visibility of the signage from different angles.
  • The signage can not be too bright or too dark.
  • People do follow footsteps.
  • Footsteps on the path are not realistic, as they will get dirty over time.


Final prototype

Following these research findings, we designed more suitable signage and photoshopped it into a digital image of the Amstel station. Furthermore, we inserted other possible locations that signs can be placed in the Prins Berhardplein location as a whole.

Group Project, Photography, Process Book