Design Thinking and the Business of Disruption

My own career experiences as an architect, which I incorporate into my teaching, exemplifies how business and design communities collaborate using a common language so they can work together more effectively. Through the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Business & Technology Minor in Design Thinking curriculum, I teach DD118 Environments and Experiences, a course that evolved out of a design thinking workshop I attended at FIT and subsequent meetings with Langdon Morris, the contractor FIT hired as Innovation Coordinator in 2017. All my classes now incorporate these design thinking principles: Immersive Research, Prototyping and Disruption. The students who explore these principles quickly understand how crucial it is to have an innovative business model. By re-examining how a company makes a profit, meets the needs of its customers, differentiates itself from other companies, and competes in the marketplace, students discover ways to transform a traditional capitalist system fraught with exploitative, unsustainable, and inequitable practices into an innovative human-centered user experience. I will present case studies from several semesters of design projects in (1) Business & Technology Minor in Design Thinking classes, (3) Art & Design-Interior Design studio classes, (1) A&D-ID technical classes, and (1) A&D-ID study abroad classes, for which I won a SUNY Chancellor’s Grant for Innovative Study Abroad Programs in 2020. Also included will be excerpts from my presentation entitled DISRUPTING DESIGN: How Business Students discover new Business Models, at the 2019 INNOVA-CON conference, held at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC. My presentation and exhibited student projects are published in the conference book Disruption: Preparing for Tomorrow: Conference Proceedings of Innova-Con 2019.