Transforming Mindsets: Intrapersonal Skills and the Becoming of a Designer

Kate McEntee and Lisa Grocott (Monash University)
2017 Conference

Design—whether making interfaces, objects, systems, or services—is as much about understanding behaviour, culture, value systems and relationships as it is about material intelligence. Today’s design practice calls for a generation of designers able to more deeply understand the human experience and as we recognize this paradigm we also recognize the need to better understand ourselves, in order to better understand others. The studio curriculum presented here, Transforming Mindsets, focuses on supporting the development of intrapersonal (individual, interior) skills of designers.


A research study was implemented in conjunction with the Transforming Mindsets studio in order to investigate the effectiveness of this experimental curriculum. The study used real-time self-reporting tools, one-to-one interviews and a six-month follow-up interview with students after completion of the studio for data collection. The study disclosed that the focus on inward skills had a deeply transformative effect on students and led to studio project outcomes that exceeded previous work. Yet post-studio interviews also revealed the challenge of integrating intrapersonal skills and practices into future contexts.

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About the author

Kate McEntee is a social design researcher with a practice focused on asking the right questions. She is currently a lecturer in design department at Monash Art Design & Architecture as well as a design and learning research fellow at Monash University.


Professor Lisa Grocott is head of design at Monash University and director of WonderLab, a design and learning research lab. Prior to returning to Melbourne she was an Associate Professor at the Parsons School of Design in New York.