Susan Wyche

Fieldwork and Sketching: Translating Research Themes into Conceptual Designs

Designers routinely employ anthropological methods in their work, the most notable being ethnography. In this Lightning Session I will describe how designers' skills can be used in the analysis of ethnographic data. Specifically, how being able to imagine new product ideas through sketching can be used to critically engage with themes surfacing in fieldwork.

I will draw from my recent design fieldwork in Nairobi, Kenya, where I examined the consumption and appropriation of technology by evangelical Christians. A portfolio of design ideas were produced during my six-weeks there. I will discuss how my abilities to quickly sketch and generate multiple ideas, helped me frame findings from my fieldwork in technological terms.


Susan Wyche is an industrial designer pursuing a doctoral degree in Human-Centered Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is currently examining how to design for the widespread use of technology for religious purposes. Prior to returning to school she worked as a professional designer in the housewares industry. More recently she has worked as a design researcher for S.C. Johnson and Son, Microsoft Research, and Intel's User Centered Design Group. Her research has been published at CHI, UbiComp, CSCW, and DUX conferences. Susan holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Carnegie-Mellon University.


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