Good Design

Project Type

Workshop Design & Facilitation


5 weeks


Design Consultant & Facilitator



Our client, a higher education institution specializing in design, was looking to integrate diverse perspectives into their educational practices. However, the field of design education often lacks space for reflection and critique. Therefore, the institution is compelled to ensure that its educational endeavors and professional outputs do not contribute to any harm within communities or the world at large. As there are limited opportunities within the organization to address these concerns, our client seeks to establish opportunities to address these challenges, including the imperative to decolonize the design process and to better understand the educational aspirations of current design students.

Our Solution

We aimed to establish a platform for reflection, critique, and dialogue regarding the essence of "What is Good Design?" and its application in practice. This expansive topic allows participants to deeply reflect on personal experiences while exchanging and comparing diverse approaches. Moreover, recognizing that design practices extend beyond organizational boundaries, the discourse on "good design" encourages participants to broaden discussions beyond educational contexts, connecting them to broader real-world concerns. This approach enriches conversations and encourages deeper exploration within the event.

Objectives of the Workshop

1. Explorative: offer a creative and safe space for reflection, questions, and discussion about design practices and their impacts.

2. Evaluative: facilitate discussion to critique current design practices of both individuals and organizations.

3. Linking: invite students to engage with professionals in the field, facilitating valuable exchanges of perspectives on design practices.



To underscore the workshop's 'linking' objective, we extended invitations to a diverse range of participants. Among them were students, faculty members, and experts from various design disciplines. Here is a list of individuals we invited prior to advertising, with the aim of incorporating their professional insights into the workshop:


Under'Explorative' objective of the workshop, it was crucial to provide a safe and welcoming environment where participants could freely express their thoughts and concerns regarding design practices. To achieve this, we focused on creating a comfortable atmosphere by paying attention to details like lighting, furniture arrangement, artifact design, spatial layout, and catering provisions.


The workshop was structured into two parts: interactive discussion and presentations, both tailored to fit the format of a one-day event.

During the interactive discussion segment, we provided various tools strategically placed throughout the workshop space. These tools allowed participants to individually or in groups, respond to prompted questions about "What is Good Design?" in a relaxed and informal manner, fostering brainstorming and comfortable conversations about design with others.

In the second part, presentations, participants who had expressed a willingness to share their own tools for conducting “Good Design” prior to the workshop introduced their practices. As facilitators, we reorganized the space into multiple stations where participants could engage with the introduced tools, gaining valuable insights and perspectives.


Tool A: Interactive Wall

This interactive wall features prompted questions about Good Design, providing a platform for participants to contribute their thoughts while ensuring discussions remain focused on the topic. This approach encourages a broader perspective on "what is good design" and facilitates a deeper understanding among participants through the sharing of different experiences and feelings visually and verbally.

During the workshop, we displayed three main questions about good design on the wall, inviting participants to freely and anonymously express their thoughts. These questions are as follows:

1. What makes you design?
2. How do you practice “Good Design”?
3. Your confession & regret on past design practices?

Tool B: Love Letter to School

Love Letter to School is a platform where students and faculty can express their appreciation and offer suggestions for improvement within the organization. Drawing inspiration from dating apps, we metaphorically explore the complex relationship between students, faculty, and the educational institution, as well as the broader community and school culture.

Using the prompt "With only my school is __________ I would fall in love," we encourage participants to share their thoughts in a lighthearted and engaging manner, facilitating critical yet entertaining discussions about their respective schools.

Tool C: Barnraiser

The Barnraiser, created by Public Lab, is a 1-page “newspaper” designed to summarize written thoughts and share various stories in a lighthearted, succinct, and low-burden manner. During the workshop, we created the Barnraiser with stories and ideas shared by Good Design participants. This allows individuals to easily and holistically capture the workshop’s conversation in a comfortable and accessible format.



Design Tool A: Wool Combing

Aisha Jandosova, a graduate student at the institution, shared her personal tool for conducting good design: wool combing. She explained that wool combing helps her slow down her thought process, allowing her to approach problem areas with a more relaxed mindset. To facilitate this practice, we set up a cozy corner in the workshop space where participants could engage in wool combing while verbally and individually sharing ideas, akin to reading the printed Barnraiser from part 1.

Design Tool B: Idea Sticky Cube

Introduced by Khipra Nichols, a faculty member at the institution, the Idea Sticky Cube is a practical tool comprising a cube with sticky notes of different colors on each side. With six different colored sticky notes, Khipra explained that he utilizes the cube to gather diverse ideas around a concept. Each color represents a different designer's idea or criteria; for example, yellow may symbolize economic considerations while pink signifies practicality. According to Khipra, this approach allows for a more comprehensive analysis and critique of the concept, enabling consideration of a wider range of factors in concept generation.

Design Tool C: Idea Rotation

An anonymous participant introduced a novel approach involving four drawing boards, each allotted a limited amount of time for designers to generate ideas based on a designated topic. For instance, while all designers are asked to design something for the elderly with arthritis, one board may focus on sustainability while another targets cost considerations. Designers are given 10 minutes to brainstorm ideas for each board, and every 10 minutes, they switch seats clockwise to engage with a different board. By the end of the session, a diverse range of ideas per category emerges, enabling designers to view and introduce their concepts to one another effortlessly. They introduced that this tool is effective in the initial concept generation phase, right after user research. 


[I somehow found] comfort in grappling with these difficult questions.”

“How do we ask the right question?”

“I enjoyed being and feeling the enthusiasm of the participants and the insights of the students.”

“How do we, as students, ethically engage community?”

“Is ethical design possible in a capitalist system?”



Throughout the workshop, we became more convinced of Design's power to empower communities, bridge gaps in ability and accessibility, and positively impact lives. However, we also acknowledged the potential for Design to cause harm if power dynamics and identities are not considered.

Understanding these complexities, we recognized the need for more space to openly discuss these ideas, share diverse perspectives, and explore various Design practices. This dialogue is essential for nurturing our shared beliefs and expanding our knowledge, ultimately fostering a more holistic approach to ethical Design.


We were able to expand and continue our workshop in an online space later in the year. This enabled more participants to join and facilitated a broader range of thoughts and discussions.

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