Week by Week Schedule

We meet on Wednesdays 3pm-6pm.

WK 1 (Mar 15)

1. Introduction to the studio.
2. Using the Class Blog.
4. Introduction to teams.

WK 2 (Mar 22)

1. Being in the canapé system – Book launch and food waste exercise
2. Defining ‘Organics’
3. Introduction to EPA competition (assessment 2a)


WK 3 (Mar 29)

1. How to Conduct a Waste Audit as a designer: Guest lecture by Lucas Ilhein
2. Feminist approaches to Ecology, Technology, Labour and Ecology (Alexandra Crosby)


WK 4 (Apr 5)

1. Expert Panel Discussion (New Room for this class: CB1.18.030)
2. Walk through UTS Organics system
3. Post A Due: One Day Waste Audit


WK 5 (Apr 12)

1. Systems thinking lecture and exercise (Dena Fam) (New Room : CB10.04.460)
2. Studio work


WK 6 (Apr 19) New Room:CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

1. Caddie design and group charter presentation (assessment 2a)
2. Using critical thinking to write a design brief


  • Read Ulrich, W. (2000). Reflective practice in the civil society: the contribution of critically systemic thinking. Reflective Practice 1, no. 2: 247-268. Available at UTS library 
  • Browse Critical Thinking Heuristics

WK 7 (May 3) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

1. Lecture: Research Methods (Alexandra Crosby & Dena Fam)
2. The ‘Mapping Organics’ research methodology


  • Make a list of every research method you have used in your degree so far
  • Consider all your course subjects as well as Design Thinking, Researching Design History, Interdisciplinary Lab A
  • Start with www.utsdesignindex.com
  • Bring a draft of your groups design brief to class to check with Dena and Ali

WK 8 (May 9) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

Group presentations on Research methods and Post B is due today

  • Reflect on the research methods and how they will contribute to developing your design
  • Think about why you’ve chosen these research methods, why and how you’ve used them.


WK 9 (May 17) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

Framing the Organics project: Introduction to Planetary Boundaries & the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Katie Ross)





WK 10 (May 24)

Field Trip – Veolia tour


WK 11 (May 31) CB11.04.102 (Engineering Bld)

Studio week/consultations

WK 12 (Jun 7) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

Group Design presentations (assessment 2b)

WK A1 (Jun 19)

Research Portfolio/Blogposts due (assessment 1)

Post B

As part of our assessment 2a, we were given a brief to design an organic bin liner using newspaper for the caddie waste bin. Our group consisted of 6 designers from different design disciplines like fashion, product, visual communication. In order to begin the task, it was very important to understand the strengths of each person in the group so we created a group charter that underlined personal characteristics and values that each person could offer to the group. The group charter also stated the ground rules and timelines while breaking up the project into different parts in order to complete it successfully by the deadline.

At this point, it was clear that with different skill sets we had different perspectives to approach the brief. Some of the ideas were analytical and problem solving based while others focussed on how information could be simplified in order to target maximum amount of people.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.37.13 pm

Each group member contributed their past individual experiences and ideas related to organic waste management. These ideas varied from each other as we all approached the brief through the perspective of our respective disciplines. As for my input as a visual communication student, I live in student housing and previously conducted a food waste audit that helped me understand how my waste was being managed. I learnt through surveying food disposal habits of students living within UTS housing and realised that there was lack of knowledge about the process from purchasing to disposing waste. In order to change the behaviour of people, I believed that information needed to be prominent everywhere (for example:- signage) and laid out in the simplest form so everyone could understand it.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.36.53 pm

Key elements of collaboration of design disciplines

  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Diversity
  • Sharing
  • Support
  • Problem Solving & Design thinking

It is important to include designers in the management of organic waste since designers create a mode of interaction and user experience within the system and the people in order to successfully make it function.  Designers help in the unification of multiple pieces of information through research and understanding. They further, package and simplify this information in order to make it easily accessible.

Systems and Design complement one another. A system aims at being holistic by following a method whereby the understanding of a system starts from the apparent issue and widens the system’s boundary by expanding the circle to include other factors that may not be so apparent but have an influence on, and are connected to it. This way, the “whole” system and the relationships are identified prior to modelling the system and finding ways of improving the system to and moving  towards a more desired outcome. 

Design on the other hand, is more empathetic and human centered and requires the modeler to be inside the problem and design the solution after having walked in the shoes of the affected as opposed to being an expert who is invited to come in and help identify  and improve on the problematic situation.

Therefore, Combining System thinking and Design thinking has the potential of improving on the holistic understanding of the current system as stakeholders have the opportunity to view the system from different angles. This has the potential to generate more informed ideas to transform the system with a more holistic view. An approach that combines the two would therefore be more holistic, empathetic and innovative.


Collopy F (2009) http://www.fastcompany.com/1291598/lessons-learned-why-failure-systems-thinking-should-inform-future-design-thinking
Szulanski, F. (2010). Synergies Between Design thinking and Systems Thinking. 


Post B: Caddy / Reflection

The caddy project was a head-on approach to inter-disciplinary design, merging the skill sets and ways of thinking about problems across multiple design fields. It gave us the ability to view the issue with a much broader scope and understand the problems and challenged us as a group to come up with a transdisciplinary solution. Our group as whole meshed well, we all saw the problem in differing ways but were able to negotiate an outcome and distribution of work, that played to everyone’s strengths. Like Ulrich we were constantly challenged by the observations and perspectives from different disciplines, backgrounds and personal experiences with the system but this conflict led to a greater mutual understanding of the issue.

“The immediate goal of a CSH evaluation is to elaborate multiple perspectives on a given situation, but the broader aim is to share these perspectives and thereby cut down on actors ‘talking past’ each other by promoting mutual understanding.” (Ulrich, W.  Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking, 2010)

5.4_opt 3.png

working with a real client was a great opportunity to understand the way other governing bodies framed the food waste problem. it brought forth the magnitude of differing prospectives surrounding the issue and the realization that there was no one solution but an undefined number of outcomes that could lead to a better more sustainable future. to fully understand the problem we had to think about the system in which waste management operated and determine wich subsystems were involved. this enabled us to gain an understanding of the viewpoints of different governing bodies and their motives.

Our team set a group charter and framework to work within focusing on design thinking rather than analytical or aesthetic approaches. the outline focused on clarity, simplicity, affordability and practicality. through these boundaries, we were able to negotiate through possible solutions and find what we felt best fit the solution. This transcended through our approach of the caddy and instructions focusing on small decisions that we felt would make a large impact. Such as the choice not to use color in our instructions sheet and testing the minimum amount of paper needed in the caddy liner to keep contamination at a minimum. We focused on the communications and readability of the information sheet keeping words to a minimum with easy to read infographics.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.37.13 pm.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.50.36 pm.png

Through working with governing agencies on such a project it becomes apparent that the small changes or adaptions in systems can create a larger social or political change in the way people think about an issue. using design thinking to enable a transdisciplinary solution we were able to chip at incredibly complex issue that spans a multitude of systems and subsystems that are constantly changing.



n.a. ‘Critical System Heuristics’, Critical System Heuristics | Better Evaluation, <http://www.betterevaluation.org/en/plan/approach/critical_system_heuristics&gt; Accessed 10 May 2017.

Ulrich, W. (2000). Reflective practice in the civil society: the contribution of critically systemic thinking. Reflective Practice 1, no. 2: 247-268.



Post B:

What we did?

  • Combined the skills set and knowledge of each discipline
  • Identified our strengths and weaknesses
  • Communication and meeting outside of uni to understand the brief and outlining tasks required
  • Conducted our research separately before meeting as a group to discuss what we had discovered and learnt.
  • Offered feedback on each member’s research and decided which design we thought was the most successful in all aspects possible – quick and easy to make, not overly complicated, quick to create, inexpensive production costs, etc.
  • Discuss the refinements that can be made
  • Delegated the tasks that needed to be completed and played on the strengths and knowledge of each member’s discipline
  • Carried out our individual tasks with the support of each member to seek feedback and further refine the design
  • Set another meeting to bring everything together and prepare the presentation


What was successful?

  • Understanding and respecting each member’s skills set, knowledge and schedule
  • Participation and communication from the group as a whole


What could we improve?

  • Starting the project earlier to allow more time for further refinement
  • Taking more initiative within the group
  • the ability to explore other materials for the caddie design

Blog Post B : Designers in team work

The caddie design project we accomplished for NSW Council was the first project we completed as a group. Our team charter was put together at the beginning of the project as a group. We put together a few points we agreed as a group, such as what we are expecting during meetings and understanding each member’s skills. Throughout the first project, I believe that there are a few things that we did well, along with many areas we need to improve for the next project.

A screen shot from our instructional video 

We went through trouble due to poor understanding of each member’s skill set and unexpectedly adding new team members. We did not have enough work to give to each of the team members and didn’t know what stage the group was at until they caught up.
In our case, the result of teamwork did not work out as well as we expected due to the miscommunication.
Bader and Jaegar from Pacific University school of Occupational Therapy states that “Quality communication means more than simply exchanging information. It means communicating with empathy in a way that encourages [people] to develop a willingness to hear another perspective, listen without interrupting and reach genuine understanding. Team members stated that though conflicts are unavoidable, they are more likely to be discussed than ignored. ” (Bader&Jaeger,2014)
This proves that for the next project, our group will work better if we can improve our communication. As half of the members prefer face-face meeting and the others prefer online communication, it is going to be a challenge for us, and we must overcome it together as a group.
Overall, the result was a product that we were all proud of, and some of us still use our caddie design at home. I think this is a great influence on ourselves towards the organic waste management.


Interdisciplinary Design

The interdisciplinary design is a process of developing design solution with others from different areas. This process allows each of the members that have different skills to approach from their professions to guide the group. The designers from various disciplines have skills using different research methods, design thinking and taking ideas into action to manage the organic waste.
The UI&UX Designer Yue Du states that “The two definitions of interdisciplinary design share the same basic meaning; they are about abandoning one single disciplinary approach and cooperating with other professions to solve problems. Design has the capability to change the world for the better, and when used appropriately it can be a more powerful tool than any single area such as technology, engineering or biology. Through interdisciplinary design, people can gain the capability to solve complex social problems. Consequently, interdisciplinary design is what happens when design thinking is applied to the multilateral society; it also embodies the interaction between people and the world.” (Du,2016)
This quote shows the importance of designers working together to solve complex problems. In this way, designers are the best equipped to deal with issues that cross disciplinary boundaries.

Importance of Design Thinking
Design thinking is a methodology that helps designers to attack the problem using sensible research methods to problem-solving no matter what the problem is. As Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO describes Design thinking as “methodology for innovation and enablement which helps with the generation of innovative solutions.” (Brown,2008)
This means that designers are taking an important role as the drivers of innovation and change in existing world systems. Design thinking will ultimately modify the way we see our problems, allowing us to find new solutions.


Bader. C & Jaeger. M, 2014, What make an interdisciplinary team work? reviewed on 9th May, < http://commons.pacificu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1051&context=ipp&gt;
Brown, Tim. (2008) Design Thinking, harvest business review, viewed on 9th May < https://hbr.org/2008/06/design-thinking&gt;
Du. Y, 2016, What is Interdisciplinary Design? Viewed on 9th May <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-interdisciplinary-design-yue-du&gt;

Post B: Group caddie design Reflection


Mikaela Rundle

As a group we were asked to find a solution to the waste caddie design, using news paper as a package to contain the organic waste. The design brief outlined the importance of keeping the design, simple and clean. There was discussion about making sure the newspaper design was easy to remove from the caddie, sturdy and would be easy to carry to the organic waste bin in each household. Focusing our attention around the lifestyle of the users, we looked into our own home and relationship to the food caddie. Taking notes on our behaviours, such as how often we needed to clean the caddie lining, how often we used it and how much time realistically would be put into making the newspaper. The Caddie newspaper design needed to encapsulated all the key important values we decided as a group to focus on. We felt that most importantly the design needed to be simple and completed under 5 minutes, as we felt that anymore time would mean the design would not be made during a busy life of a user.

We workshopped a variety of designs, constantly referring to our goal of a fast and effective solution. We started with folding the newspaper in a variety of ways that would strengthen the form. Using traditional Origami as inspiration for our designs, we discovered that a cone shape held a lot of waste and mass. Due to the layers of folds the waste after a few days didn’t weaken the bottom, allowing easy and safe transfer from the caddie to the bin. We also got inspired by street food, that used this similar cone shape to contain food.

As a group we felt our design was going to be successful after our own personal research and assessment of the design. When creating our video and explanation sheet, we felt it was vital to keep our instructions simple, which could allow children to be able to understand and create the design. The design sheet was refined, making sure that there was enough steps, that were easy to understand. We also created a scan on the sheet that linked to the video, this combination of video, text and images, was effective and easy to follow. We tested our sheet and video on a variety of our family members, with positive feed back. The design was effective because we had a variety of in put from all members of the team, using their own skills in design and research to produce the final design.

B. Working Interdisciplinary

The interdisciplinary nature of this subject allows designers with varying skills and interests to unite and utilise their specialised skills towards a common goal. This applies to the literal sense of designing, whereby physical skills are broadened within the group and designed outcomes can be more collaborative and extensive in order to “uncover a newer, more powerful solution (Pagés 2013). This may, however, also be seen as a detriment to the group dynamic, as students often have contrasting opinions upon approaching a brief, as a result of their individual experiences within other disciplines.

The caddie design project challenged our group significantly as it forced us to look beyond the foundational elements of design and consider strategy as a designed element. It also, however, presented opportunities to tailor an outcome which would play to the strengths of the group. Visual Communications students were able to apply knowledge of layout and visual hierarchy as well as technical skills within design programs, whilst product designers were able to apply their methods of prototyping and product testing to our caddie design.

This task ultimately allowed us to observe the role of designers within the wider community such as within organic waste systems. Our processes consider numerous influencing factors such as varying audiences, environments and visual desires, as well as practical skills such as aesthetics, production and promotion. Designers are highly skilled individuals with interest beyond the expanse of aesthetics. We are often highly concerned about the needs of consumers and use this knowledge in the conceptual stages of the design process. As a result, designers are highly useful in approaching “wicked problems” (Buchanan 1992) such as the management of waste, as we understand that the needs of such issues go beyond a simple solution.

System design must consider a multitude of influencing factors ranging from user demographics to financial constraints within production. For this reason, design can be seen as an instrumental elements to the formation of systems as we are required to respond to the actions of consumers and consider the process of using such product or system. This ultimately results in a “systematic and rigorous approach to design” that is “user-centred.” (Dubberly 2006)

Establishing a group charter is of high importance as it “clarifies team direction” (Life Cycle Engineering 2015) whilst beginning to educate members about the interests, strengths, weaknesses and experiences of their collaborators. This was no exception to our own group as we were able to recognise each others’ capabilities whilst establishing foundational beliefs for the group and our goals within the subject. The charter ultimately acts as a reminder for members to collaborate effectively in order to succeed.


Life Cycle Engineering 2015, Team Charters: What are they and what’s their purpose?, Charleston SC, viewed 7 May 2017, <https://www.lce.com/Team-Charters-What-are-they-and-whats-their-purpose-1219.html>.

How Design 2013, The Interdisciplinary Design Approach, Florida, viewed 7 May 2017, <http://www.howdesign.com/design-firm/the-interdisciplinary-design-approach/>.

Dubberly Design Office 2006, What is Systems Design, San Francisco, viewed 8 May 2017, <http://www.dubberly.com/articles/what-is-systems-design.html>.

Buchanan, R. 1992, ‘Wicked Problems in Design Thinking.’ Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 14-15.