Integrating a Multidisciplinary Design Methods Mindset Into Classroom Practice


Holistic design, experience design, interdisciplinary design, design thinking, human centered design.


Sanders and Stappers (2013) propose a new interpretation of design disciplines that is not delineated by traditional fields such as industrial design, graphic design, or architecture, but by themes focusing on “people in the context of their lives” such as design for sustainability and design for well-being. Howell, Stark, et al (2016) teaches that multiple design fields may be employed in tandem to explore human centered design projects. This mindset allows for more holistic design solutions. When students are introduced to this framework, they are opened up to more flexibility in their design process and potential solutions. This paper outlines an industrial design student’s self-directed thesis project on encouraging selfcompassionate thought patterns. We will examine how the process was affected by viewing the project as a multidisciplinary design field challenge instead of a traditional form, color and material-driven industrial design challenge. Importantly, the paper will discuss how research and design methods from industrial design, graphic design, interaction design, storytelling, and psychological science played into the creation of a meaningful designed project and experience. The paper concludes with several suggestions for integrating multidisciplinary design methods into classroom practice.

Original Publication Citation

Stark, C., & Howell, B. (2017). Integrating A Multidisciplinary Design Methods Mindset into Classroom Practice. Conference proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education; Building Community: Design Education for a Sustainable Future (E&PDE17), Oslo, Norway, September 7-8.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor