Out of our heads and into the world

July 1, 2021

It’s not uncommon to feel like an imposter. While I was enrolled in an industrial design course, having never really made anything, imposter syndrome was my close friend.

Fast forward a couple of months and I was stuck into learning about participatory design – reading Liz Sanders and starting to think about how ‘making stuff’ can create conversation, catalyse ideas, and bring people together. I became fascinated by the process of getting ideas out of our heads and into the world, less so because of the thing that would come out of it, and more so for the conversation it might create.

Feeling something, putting it into the world, letting others see it, hold it in their hands, add to it. Talking about a thing. Sitting with a thing. Wondering about a thing.

Maybe you’re also missing this aspect of design? It’s hard to evoke through our screens, isn’t it? This week I thought about the idea of making as a process, and the “things” that make design come alive.


A research activity to help unpack emotions

Emotions are often extremely difficult to articulate.

You might be familiar with this method, if not the name. Object interviews combine traditional interview techniques and externalization techniques, from psychology. This method comes from the Emotion-Centred Design Lookbook.

Feeling form, making a movement

By using our hands to touch and form things around us, we are telling people that we are here and that we matter.

In this piece, Meghan Goodeve, the Engagement Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture International, uses sculpture to explain the haptic experience of touch. Meghan describes the concept and value of material literacy through recounting various festival workshops and experiences. Her words made me think about objects in entirely new ways.

Making is Connecting

Making things is about transforming materials into something new, but it is also about transforming one’s own sense of self.

This book by David Gauntlett is one of my favourite reads. It’s a book about making – and how it intersects with being a social human being. David’s descriptions of everyday creativity, in particular, very much resonate with a participatory design mindset.


This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.