Research to Re-brand a Neighborhood

Rebranding the neighborhood of Eixample was a great experience in remote interviews with translators. This pre work led to a second project also in my portfolio called Hackable Cities.   Next came the analogous research phase where we explored a neighborhood that Eixample might aspire to be. Dumbo, a formerly vacant and depressed neighborhood in New York City is rapidly becoming a creative tech hub. We wanted to explore how and why.

Design Process for Humanizing the Subway

Sometimes, no, all the time, design is messy at first glance. Immersive experiences, delving into the user journey, and then analyzing that experience can look like chaos. The result of creative chaos? Insights that lead to great design. These images show some of our team’s process.

Humanizing the Subway

To humanize the subway experience for the visually impaired, we headed into the underground caves of the New York City transit system. Some of the team became blind, some flies on the wall, and others, active investigators. The project involved a variety of strategies: contextual analysis, journey mapping, visual ethnography, interviews, and prototyping solutions.

Connection – A Case Study in Ethnography

This project was developed with a distributed team that stretched from one end of the United States to another. We explored various methods of data gathering, specifically ethnographic strategies.  

Human Centered Process Design

While consulting on a project for a global agricultural company, I was tasked with helping create human centered processes that would facilitate stronger customer relations and seamless  IT capabilities. Projects would begin with user research. For this workshop, we interviewed almost 20 users of an internal process that included a half a dozen products and just as many brands. Once we gathered the data and analyzed the “as is” processes, we were able to develop insights that would facilitate a two day process redesign workshop. The 40 person group (many who were also interviewed) was broken down into smaller teams …

User Research Case Study

As a strategic designer, research that involves understanding and communicating the user journey is my favorite. In this project, I took a look at the student journey. In that journey are the key motivators and insights into student behavior. For various reasons, educational organizations tend to skip this research phase.  However what then happens is we begin to design something for that little world in our heads and then we’re left wondering why no one is responding to our great new initiative. I learned a couple of  key lessons from working with this age group. 1. Don’t assume anything. One …


Sometimes a project requires a change in mindset. For me, the best way to help shape mindset is to tell the story and communicate a compelling need. Below is a story created to explain our need to re-examine our silo based educational practices and develop a makerspace collaborative mentality. Thanks to Julia Fiorello of Happy Strategy, my fellow storyteller from Parsons New School, for her great visual design skills.

The Journey to Creating an Innovation Hub

Below is my most recent project involving strategic design and service design work. A number of rabbits were pulled from my design thinking hat, including building ethnographic research tools, journey mapping, developing lots of blueprints with the leadership and persona work from a recent technology pipeline project.  What began with the need to tackle tackling a crippling community problem, a shrinking talent base for jobs in the new economy is developing into a entirely new mindset and practices in inspiring talent. The Problem Since the 1960s, Paducah and the surrounding far West Kentucky region has experienced a steady decline in …

Designing Your Life

    One of my fun, just for my soul side projects right now is the development of a solution to a problem I see in many of the kids I work with. This book/program/summer boot camp is framed around the idea that intrinsic motivation is the best way to tap into grit, perseverance, motivation, and meaning for life. The process leads students through self-discovery using a design thinking toolkit.  

XQ Super School Challenge

The XQ Super School Challenge came about just as I was wrapping up the strategic plan process with a small, urban school district. I had been building school models and researching the idea of re-imagining school formally for the past 2 years in my Masters of Strategic Design program at Parsons New School. I had all the data and research and the XQ opportunity provided me with a reason to just do the design already! Deep down, I want students to walk away from their school journey having experienced the joy and fascination of learning. I had teachers and parents who did …