Design brief

SDC 2019 brief:

Empathy is critical not only to the design process but also to the framing and approach of how individuals address important social issues. Every decision we make as designers can raise or lower a person’s ability to participate in society. On a larger scale, its impact manifests in the products we create, the breakdown of communication barriers, and an increased awareness of others’ lived experiences. The ability to empathize serves as a catalyst for inclusive design.

Empathy fuels connection and unlocks deep understanding of others. Empathy is the foundation for human-centered, inclusive design. This starts by observing, engaging, and immersing yourself in people’s motivations, contexts, interests, and needs. This is grounded in getting outside of our own comfort zones to meet and speak with people who are different from us – different in ability, value-systems, socioeconomic status and the full range of human diversity.

Design challenge: How might we build empathy to help address a local Seattle opportunity? How can we create a mechanism for empathy for one audience that can be applied to other audiences and contexts?

Design an experience (this can be a product, service, or program) that allows the judges and Interaction 2019 community to better understand a day in the life of someone with misunderstood or ignored differences. The goal is less about solving any specific problem and more about crafting an experience that unlocks empathy and can be applied in other scenarios and contexts.

To encourage global interaction and awareness of diverse backgrounds, the IxDA conference has been hosted across multiple cities and countries since 2008. A part of this is learning about and getting to know a local city. This year, we’ll work with a local Seattle non-profit to spark empathy in the hearts and minds of the IxDA audience and our judging panel.

Some real-world examples of empathy at scale in the world include:

Performing Statistics A project by Art 180 and the Legal Aid Justice Center connect incarcerated youth with artists, designers, educators, and leading policy advocates to transform the juvenile justice system. Leaders work together to both train Richmond, VA’s entire police force and create immersive exhibits and media campaigns to amplify the stories, dreams, and demands of the youth most impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline.

Examining Racism with Virtual Reality Researchers at Stanford University are designing, testing, and distributing virtual reality simulations that allow learners to experience the life of someone else by “walking a mile” in his or her shoes, seeing their appearance and behaviors reflected in a virtual mirror as someone else, and perceptually experience a scenario from the perspective of any party in a social interaction.

What to expect

The Student Design Charette is a perpetual work in progress that aims to respond to the shifts and evolving needs in our community. This year we are not asking you to pitch a project, nor will you be applying in teams. In your submission, we are looking for you to demonstrate your unique talent and how you articulate your point of view regarding the role of design and inclusive experiences in unlocking empathy.

Once in Seattle, the finalists will be assigned into teams and you will receive a narrower brief to work on over a 72-hour period which will start with a Microsoft inclusive design workshop.

At the conference, you will receive mentorship and will present your proposals to the greater IxDA conference attendees.

More about applying for SDC 2019


Co-Chairs

Sponsors, Microsoft Design


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