Dennis Cheatham is a design researcher and experience designer and teaches courses in Communication Design and Experience Design at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Before becoming a professor, he practiced design professionally for 15 years in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Design in the wild.
When you read the word design, what comes to mind? Designer shoes with gold stitching? A blueprint for a building? Color and fabric swatches? Or perhaps you envision a wall of Post-it® notes for a design thinking session. Design and designers come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s meet a few of them.
Design practitioners are problem solvers who partner with clients to define needs, craft solutions, and implement inventive and effective outcomes. Practitioners consider context as part of the problem, and the products, services, and systems they generate shape our cultures.
Design researchers are pioneering new modes of healthcare, clarifying how people engage with technologies, inspecting the effects of an increasingly global community, and testing living spaces that adapt to changing human needs. Their inquiring nature, attention to detail, experience working with others, and inventive spirit make designers collaborative problem solvers whose research produces insightful discoveries.
Design educators synthesize research, practice, and pedagogy to facilitate learning experiences that shape the future of design. Students and educators work together to test emerging technologies, ideas, and ways of framing problems our societies haven’t yet named. In these spaces, dialogue is encouraged, and learners develop their craft and thinking as future leaders.
Have you ever created something that was meant to be used—a papier-mâché mask, a tool for pulling up weeds, or a plan for distributing food to people in need after a disaster? Then, you are a designer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Of course, papier-mâché skills don’t qualify you to design skyscrapers or develop healthcare services—some training and experience are essential for those. But at the heart of every designer is a person who creates interventions whose goal is to make a better future. ❤️