Posts tagged DAAP
Mid-Semester Lessons from Capstone

Behold, the Capstone!

Behold, the Capstone!

It’s the end of February, and we’re about at the half-way point through the spring semester. I’ve been teaching the Senior Capstone course at DAAP. The primary purpose of Capstone is for the students to exhibit the skills they’ve acquired during the last four years at DAAP. In that way, “teacher” isn’t quite the right description for my role because the end goal isn’t to learn from me. My job is to help the students express their knowledge and to encourage them through the most extended project they’ve worked on to date. It’s a lot more like the role of a coach. 

I’m new at this, so it’s been my temptation to teach rather than to coach. I’ve been critiquing their work based on where I think it should be on a made up timeline in my mind (i.e., finished yesterday). Likewise, I find myself attaching to projects, imagining where I’d take them, and sharing feedback to that end. If I were to name the fear behind these behaviors, it would be that I’m afraid people (other professors, designers, etc.) will judge me based on student outcomes. Not cool. I’m aware.

It’s dawned on me that the outcome isn’t nearly as important compared to all that they are learning in the middle of the process right now.

Equipped with that awareness, I’ve begun to loosen up. As I walked up the stairs to DAAP before class the other day, I told myself to have fun, get to know the students, and focus less on critiquing the work. They have plenty of avenues for feedback. What if my task is more to cheer them on, over all of the inevitable design blocks, through this daunting design journey? It's dawned on me that the outcome isn’t nearly as important compared to all that the students are learning in the middle of the process right now. Trust and be faithful to the process and the results will work themselves out. That's a lesson I’m continually learning in my work as an adjunct professor and professional designer/business owner. It’s a lesson that I’ll need a reminded of again and again.

Speaking of process, the students are keeping an online journal of their Capstone process in a Medium publication. Please take a moment to check their work so far. If you’re feeling extra generous, make a comment or “applaud” their posts.

Click here to view the publication. 

August Recap
The auditorium in the Old Chem Building at the University of Cincinnati.

The auditorium in the Old Chem Building at the University of Cincinnati.


August is always in the back of my mind. That’s because class starts in August. As much as I love teaching, I’m often full of anxiety leading up to the first class. However, once the first class begins, I remember why I said yes in the first place. Most of the fear goes away. At least, that’s what I am experiencing this semester. It’s my second time teaching Interdisciplinary User-Centered Design at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program. Now that the content is more familiar I can focus on creating a more engaging learning environment. That’s not exactly an easy task with 230+ students in a basement auditorium of the Old Chem Building. Still, a little goes a long way. One method that seems to be working is momentary pauses for reflection during class. I’ll ask the students to ponder how they can apply the content to their profession. At the very least, the pauses are a departure from the rambling nature of my lectures and a rare moment of silence in the stress-ridden routine of a design student.

Single-page Squarespace page for Scroggins.

Single-page Squarespace page for Scroggins.

Workshop to Website: Scroggins

We’re excited to share the outcome of our partnership with Scroggins, a custom home builder based in Loveland, Oh. Our work began with a Mindful Brand Workshop that uncovered the overall direction of the brand identity and led to various collateral items including a single-page Squarespace page. Our services included copywriting, logo design, web design, stationery design, and the design of a custom icon set. We collaborated with Colin Moore on the website copy, and Anna Maffy on the icon set. We’re proud of the results and anticipate working with Scroggins even more in the future.

Poster design for the Wine Over Water Wine and Food Festival in Chattanooga, Tn.

Poster design for the Wine Over Water Wine and Food Festival in Chattanooga, Tn.

Wine Not?

We designed the artwork for the Wine Over Water Food and Wine Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the third year in a row. This year we gleaned inspiration from Arp and Matisse. We’re always in favor less literal, and in this case, we got to go pretty abstract. A big thanks to Jon Flannery of Cryptogram for suggesting we draw the shapes with a sharpie attached to a dowel rod purchased at the local hardware store.

Trischler Design Co Help.jpg

We’re Contracting…

We’re exploring what it would look like to contract a young graphic designer for two half-days a week (8-10 hours total). Hopefully, the need would increase, but we’re starting with baby steps. Ideally, the person would have typographic skills, a handle on the creative suite, and some experience with Squarespace. If you’re interested, click the button below.

What Is Your Quest?
Thursday morning woods walk turned  wet walk.

Thursday morning woods walk turned wet walk.


I continue to linger on the contrast between learning and problem-solving (see last weeks post and Hurry Slowly Ep. 17). There’s less fear and anxiety when equipped with a lens of learning. A kind of childlike naivety opens the mind to different ideas. Problem-solving, on the other hand, implies stress, which can close the door to original pathways.

Good questions are an excellent vehicle for learning. Richard Saul Wurman speaks to that with an interview with Debbie Millman (see link below). He elevates the word “quest," which I appreciate. A quest is a long, arduous search for something (Google's definition). I'm starting to understand that we're all on our journey or quest. What is your quest? There's no better place to look than at the questions we ask others and ourselves every day.

How do I dodge complacency and recognize and reframe my deep-seated biases? That appears to be a quest of mine. At least that's the theme I draw from the links below. That, and initial preparations for my fall UCD course at DAAP. Eek! August will be here in no time. 



Richard Saul Wurman Interview With Debbie Millman 
Debbie Millman does a good job interviewing Richard. The most compelling segment is toward the end when Debbie goes off script and asks Richard what he wants to talk about. Richard doesn't want to answer Debbie's initial round of questions regarding his past. Richard prefers to talk about the future. What leads me to question the tendency to ask older or successful people to recount their experiences as if they’ve completed their journey? What if instead of asking about the past, we talked about what’s now or what’s next? I tested my new theory on a friend who’s thirty-years older than me. Like Debbie, I dwelled on his past. I caught myself and asked him what’s next? It led to one of the most intimate conversations I’ve had all week.

Everything Easy is Hard Again by Frank Chimero 
Every so often I feel the pressure to learn how to code. While there’s been plenty of false starts, I’ve never made a genuine commitment to the cause. Frank’s perspective, from someone who does code, is encouraging. It’s impossible to keep up with the web, and perhaps the old, slow solutions are enough. I doubt I will leap into code. However, I do hope to find a reliable dev. partner in Cincinnati or beyond. I’m continually receiving requests for web design projects, and I don’t think that trend will fade anytime soon. Reach out if you’re interested or have any tips.

Design Discourse Is In A State Of Arrested Development 
Are we (designers) adding value? What happens when we start to ask that question of our work and others’?: “Our tendency is to focus on techniques and tools and to ignore the deeper questions. And it’s not just that we’re unwilling to examine our failures; we’re just as likely to focus only on the superficial aspects of our successes, too.”

As a design student, how do I deal with my professors teaching outdated tools and methods?
“Use this opportunity to ‘learn how to learn,’ and use resources outside of school to teach yourself the latest tools and techniques. That curiosity and drive to learn on your own will serve you well in a design career.” I found this advice likewise helpful for the professor when it seems impossible to keep up with ever constant change. A focus on the foundations and teaching the students how to learn gives them timeless gifts that they will use beyond the classroom and throughout their careers. 

A Helpful Diagram (for design students)
"Venn and The Art of Being a Design Student."

The Silent Rise of The Female-Driven Economy
“Put very simply, most of the structures, design, technology, and products we interact with are designed with male as the default.” How myopic. It’s time to start asking who will be alienated by what we design?

The Side Effects of the Decline of Men
Instead of learning to code (see Chimero notes above), perhaps it’s more important than ever to build an emotional IQ?: “The researchers suggest the scientific evidence shows that women have on average stronger skills in empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, and corporate America is valuing those qualities all the more.”

Kudos to ChrisKathryn, and Meg for link suggestions.