Current Students

DSGN 490: Research - Design - Build


For MMM Students only

This is a dynamic hands-on studio class, structured as a "workshop" practicum, and as such will focus on design research and design thinking methods with a strong focus on innovation built on in-context user needs. The first 5 weeks are intended to rapidly introduce key methods and apply them in a series of design sprints. In the remaining 5 weeks student teams will work on a more robust challenge for a “client,” where they will continue to hone their design innovation skills and connect them to not only the user, but also the business. All assignments and deliverables for students will be in the context of their project(s).

The class will be offered via 2 sections in a smaller more intimate studio setting, allowing for hands-on coaching and feedback.

Key Learning Takeaways

  • Approach problem solving with a design thinking mindset
  • Use tangible prototypes and examples to elicit rich information from research subjects
  • Derive useful insights from observations
  • Structure frameworks for use in making inductive leaps and developing resonant ideas
  • Quickly and effectively brainstorm ideas, narrow options and select compelling propositions
  • Rapidly prototype potential solutions to learn and push ideas forward
  • Shape stories that illustrate user scenarios, solutions and the value they offer
  • Develop compelling presentations that communicate clearly and visually support the story you want to tell
  • Apply these skills to a real client challenge in the Chicago community

Key Tactical Tools

  • In-field ethnography discussion structures
  • Interview facilitation skills
  • Research insights framework structures
  • Culture of critique understanding
  • Rapid visualization through sketching
  • Rapid prototyping skills
  • Efficient iteration tactics
  • Effective brainstorming strategies
  • Communication design strategies
  • Storyboarding “arcs” for use in building conviction for ideas/solutions
  • Compelling business model structures for new value propositions
  • Notable deliverable “formats” to bring attention to ideas

Quarter Offered


DSGN 490: Research - Design - Build
Section 1 meets Monday 5:30-8:30pm
Section 2 meets Thursday 5:30-8:30pm
Instructors: Greg Holderfield and Martha Cotton

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