Design Tools: MakeTools

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Liz Sanders brought her expertise into the studio to share her wisdom on MakeTools (a form of generative research). With a bachelors in both psychology and anthropology coupled with a PhD in Experimental and Quantitative Psychology, Liz has a strong understanding of how to employ human-centered design to address environmental, social, and cultural problems. She is a specialist and pioneer in generative research, where methods and tools are used to physically build concepts.

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This method invites users to explore concept design with flexible materials. These materials usually range from images on paper, to hand-held foam models, to full size scale models that replicate a real environment. Users are given materials to design concepts, explore ideal features, and explain intended use. This informs the design of concepts.

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As Liz spoke about how her arsenal of materials for her research method range from 2-D  to full scale spaces, I asked her how she determines which style to use when working with clients. She responded by saying that it is usually incremental. Most clients aren’t ready for three dimensional representations of objects, much less full scale rmodels. Liz said that she usually begins her client relationship with simple tools to help them become familiar with her methods. Then she slowly moves from 2-D to 3-D as they become more familiar with the technique. All of her methods are valuable regardless of scale, but the closer to real life the tools are, the more valuable the research.

Learn more about Liz Sanders and MakeTools here.

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