By: Florence Wang

These past six weeks have absolutely flown by and in these weeks, I have experienced such a beautiful mixture of emotions, thoughts, and realizations.

From reading my past blog posts, it’s probably pretty evident that I’m an innate skeptic–I always have something to question and this skepticism was present at almost all the beginning stages of this program. I don’t often like to be proven wrong, but in this case, Open Design+ did, and I have never been more glad that I was wrong.

I’m not quite sure why, but when we were first introduced to the design thinking process, it felt almost unnecessary, superfluous even. I could not wrap my head around how convoluted and stretched out the entire process seemed. Looking back, I think it was because of my tendency to rush, to immediately jump to the solution, to let thoughts of feasibility hinder my actions and creativity. I was so caught up in this mindset of doing, of getting the job done, of being able to check one more thing off my list, that I lost sight of what is truly important when solving a problem to create tangible impact and change the lives of others for the better. Open Design+ helped me realize not only the true importance of problem-solving and design, but also the importance of empathy and the relationships that we form with those around us.

Each stage of the design process unlocked a different realization or skill for me. The “understanding” phase taught me empathy, patience, and the significance of perspective. The “create” phase taught me to think outside the box, to overcome hurdles, and the importance of collaboration. The “evaluate” phase taught me the value of co-creation, how to not get stuck on a singular idea, and to constructively accept feedback. And lastly, the “communication” phase taught me the beauty of storytelling, helped foster excitement, and enabled me to feel both validated and encouraged.

Open Design+ not only helped me develop my skills and a more nuanced perspective of design but also, helped me create some of the most genuine connections with the other people involved. I absolutely love my team members, and each and every one of them pushed me to reach beyond my comfort zone, offered me support when I needed it, and contributed to our project with so much passion and commitment. But these things apply to everyone who participated in this program. Everyone offered so much knowledge, perspective, and ardor that I have never witnessed nor been a part of before.

This has truly been such an amazing and informative experience that has made me look beyond what I had originally thought were limitations in my life. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity and will never view “design” in the same way as before. I now know that design is not something that is simply visual and one-dimensional. Rather, it’s a way of thinking, it’s a narrative, it’s the unraveling of a story.