Design methods and Interaction Design

Technology probes – Design Thinking. Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts, University of Sydney

Empathic Modelling: Towards designing inclusive musical instruments. Faculty of Engineering – Institute of Informatics, UACH

In line with a design thinking approach of iterative thinking and making, I believe in the importance of introducing design research notions at the early stages of their design education. It involves an immersion in the design problem space, towards the understanding of human attitudes and practices. Nowadays, understanding the nuances of our material culture, as well as the different dimensions of human experience is as important as technical proficiency when it comes to design meaningful and useful artefacts. The introduction of research as a generative design activity in the design studios, carefully catered to their corresponding stage of development, necessarily puts students in contact with real-life experiences and users.

During my career, I have taught an array of different design methods that respond to the iterative cycle of design thinking’s research, prototyping, and development. Apart from traditional design research techniques and ethnographic methods applied to understand users and culture, I am also interested in autobiographical approaches such as living with prototypes and documenting on self-testing. Acknowledging this widely disseminated but unspoken practice amongst creators allows designers and students to understand, refine and articulate their learning process as well as envisioning the effects of technology in their lives before testing with real users. Such a reflective perspective is intended to expand students’ views towards a more thorough, analytic and empathic understanding of technology design.


  • Research methodologies applied to design, such as ethnography, contextual inquiry, context-mapping, observation.
  • Various approaches to data analysis: Data-driven and concept-driven.
  • Design probes, technology probes, and self-reporting techniques.
  • Multiple paths to prototyping and testing.
  • Evaluation methods in User Experience Design (UX).
  • Design principles
  • Analysis of qualitative research data from interviews: Affinity diagramming
  • Interview techniques: Active listening
  • Empathic modelling
  • Sketching as a thinking tool for ideation and prototyping
  • Personas, scenarios
  • Experience prototyping
  • Bodystorming
  • Affordances
  • Persona-based scenario walkthrough
  • User evaluation, think aloud
  • Participatory design / co-design
  • Experience-centred design
  • Critical design design
  • Value-sensitive design

Felt-sensing and ideas for design. Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts, University of Sydney

Transdisciplinary studies

As technology design requires multidimensional thinking in response to technical, material, sociocultural and ethical concerns, HCI appears like a fast-moving field, open to a myriad of schools of thoughts derived from arts and science. Although multidisciplinary collaboration is fundamental for the success of any project, my proposal aims to go a step further by stimulating a transdisciplinary approach towards thinking and making. According to authors such as Barsabau Nicolescu in his Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, to solve some of the world’s biggest concerns such as those of ethical and societal implications, it becomes imperative to move outside disciplinary thinking, learning to navigate in a world of a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, including if this means to get outside our comfort zone. This approach translates in stimulating spaces for design critique, open discussions amongst peers and a critical design attitude towards envisioning a sustainable and ethical future. These discussions are intended to teach students to express themselves and their ideas in the context of varied audiences, while keeping an open attitude towards learning from the experiences of others, enriching their professional and experiential vocabulary.


  • Research-through art and design
  • Practice-based research
  • Qualitative research methodologies
  • Sensory research

“La Semilla de la Humanidad” – An installation based on research through art techniques involving sensory sampling. Authors: W. Alcapán, C. Arriagada, C. Iñiguez & Y. Rehbein. Faculty of Architecture and Arts, UACH

Visual thinking
Image Syntax and semantics are taught in a modality of peer-evaluation, where students analyse their exercises and compare against the series of instructions they are given. These instructions are based on visual composition rules, including Gestalt laws, rules of balance and colour theory.


  • Visual syntax and composition
  • Visual communication- semantics
  • Observation
  • Photography
  • Techniques of graphic design research
  • Colour theory
  • Gestalt Laws
  • Visual affordances

Assignment 1 – Visual Syntax. School of design, UACH