Abstract

A new design centre at an American university was given the mission to incorporate design thinking and human-centred design across the university through multi-disciplinary collaborations. An opportunity arose with the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct research around cat house-soiling in preparation for a Hackathon to create new products and services to combat this type of behaviour. The design centre worked in collaboration with veterinarians to adapt the design thinking process to incorporate both cat owners and their cats while allowing students the chance to practice their design thinking skills in combination with an exploration of interspecies relationships. Through in-context field research conducted in cat owners’ homes, students used both human-centred and cat-centred design techniques to understand the cat-cat owner dynamic. By observing cats’ environments, behaviours, and human relationships, students were able to uncover three key opportunity areas for design around house-soiling for the Hackathon participants: leveraging data to modify cat behaviours, owner acceptance of existing undesirable behaviours, and a lack of understanding amongst owners for their cat’s motivations and intentions.

Keywords:

other-than-human design, experimentation in design education, design in higher education, central Illinois USA, present-day

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Jul 9th, 12:00 AM

Using Cat-Centred Research to Learn the Design Thinking Process

A new design centre at an American university was given the mission to incorporate design thinking and human-centred design across the university through multi-disciplinary collaborations. An opportunity arose with the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct research around cat house-soiling in preparation for a Hackathon to create new products and services to combat this type of behaviour. The design centre worked in collaboration with veterinarians to adapt the design thinking process to incorporate both cat owners and their cats while allowing students the chance to practice their design thinking skills in combination with an exploration of interspecies relationships. Through in-context field research conducted in cat owners’ homes, students used both human-centred and cat-centred design techniques to understand the cat-cat owner dynamic. By observing cats’ environments, behaviours, and human relationships, students were able to uncover three key opportunity areas for design around house-soiling for the Hackathon participants: leveraging data to modify cat behaviours, owner acceptance of existing undesirable behaviours, and a lack of understanding amongst owners for their cat’s motivations and intentions.

 

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