Design Made Personal

The focus of this Interterm course will be a gift-giving experience where students will work collaboratively to design something for someone whose work sustains the college community. IDP 116 is an introduction to design thinking skills emphasizes hands-on, collaborative design driven by user input. Students will critique their own and each others’ designs, and review existing technology designs to evaluate how well design principles are guided by the practices of the intended user. The class will focus on using qualitative research observations to inspire new approaches to design. Students will iteratively design a multimedia approach to framing problems, to communicating ideas, and to exploring the ethical, political, and social implications of design in the world.

Students in this course will appreciate that a “design” results in social action or interventions that are not limited to new products and new services, but include new experiences and new narratives.

We will focus on developing the following design thinking mindsets:
Human-centered – design that is driven by empathy for an articulated “other.”
Experimental – learning through iteration, learning with materials.
Collaborative – leadership and joint effort in vision and execution of design tasks.
Metacognitive – reflective awareness and conscious use of process techniques.

To get our feet wet, we will start with a design challenge, the Notebook, which was developed to introduce the foundations of design thinking in 60minutes. We will spend the rest of the week building on what we learn in the challenge. 

IDP 116 Starts in



January 2019

Dates for January 2019 will be announced this summer

Click to Download Jan 2018 Syllabus

Course Links

There will be two reading responses due on the 17th and 20th respectively. For each of the responses, create a post on the blog and publish it using the category: Reading Response.

Kabayadondo – Prototyping – From Ideas to Agency
The purpose of this fieldwork is to go out with your teammate(s) and to observe your user in their natural environment. Create posts on the blog for each part of this assignment, use the following categories:


for the ethnographic needfinding part;

and the category:

Technology Review

for the review of an existing tool used by your user.

We will use rapid and iterative prototyping to refine a design of a personal object that improves the life of a key user. Create a post on the blog and publish it using the category

Prototype Portfolio
To use the Prototyping Studio outside of class hours, you must complete Level 1 Safety Training.

Link to Level 1 – Safety Training
We will be submitting all assignments as individual posts on this blog. Here are some pointers on getting started with posting.

How to Post

Our Studio Design Partners, Emily Matz and Laura Lilienkamp will be offering drop-in hours for help with the Prototyping Studio and troubleshooting your designs throughout the week of IDP 116. 

Tuesday 01/16 — Laura, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Wednesday 01/17  Matz, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Thursday 01/18 – Laura, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Friday, 01/19  Matz, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Saturday 01/20 — Laura, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Sunday 01/21  Matz, 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Check out the slides from class in this Google Drive Folder.

Student Portfolios

    Tsewang, Phobe, and Monica

    Jan 2018

    Katherine’s unconventional path:

    Paint by Sticker 

    Link to portfolio

    Diandra, Cherylynn, and Eva

    Jan 2018

    Enabling artists to tell more diverse stories and create more culturally compelling characters

    Link to portfolio

    Beatrix, Elizabeth, and Claire R.

    Jan 2018

    Asking questions

    with a sweet series of prototypes

    Link to portfolio

    Darpan, Andrea, Claire K., and Krista

    Jan 2018

    Opening doors at Smith:

    figuratively and literally

    robot demo

    Link to portfolio

    Sula, Ashley, and Yuhan

    Jan 2017

    Holograms might be the future of personal productivity

    Link to portfolio

    Jess and Sasha

    Jan 2017


    Giving the gift of time to someone with a consuming passion

    Link to portfolio

    Anisha and Lizzie

    Jan 2017

    A gift for someone who serves others 

    Link to portfolio


    Jan 2017

    The perfect companion for someone who asks a lot of questions

    Link to portfolio