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Creative Complexity 101

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DesignMap is a San Francisco design studio made up of a diverse group of designers, researchers and front-end developers.  One of our core values is the importance of continually learning about our craft and sharing that knowledge with others. Every Monday we set aside time for studio members to share case studies of their own work and “master” classes on a wide range of topics such as sketching, wireframing, presenting work, visual design, responsive design, and accessibility.

Internally, we began discussing how others outside DesignMap might find these useful, and started to think about how we might get this information out into the wild. The opportunity came when we approached Sharon Cardinal about hosting a meet up in our studio. Partnering with an organization like IxDA thats shares our core values allowed us to develop a unique flavor of meet up: practical, hands on workshops that could be applied tomorrow

What was the workshop about?

Creativity in Practice, by Eddie Shieh

The two talks we hosted last week aimed to help veterans and newbies alike sharpen their design toolkit.  Creativity in Practice, by Eddie Yun Shieh, delved deep into what creativity means. As designers, we are expected to bring creativity to the table. Yet how many of us actually understand how creativity happens and what it needs to thrive? Furthermore, how many of us know how to unlock the creative potential in others? Eddie described ways that the context in which creativity is attempting to emerge is often more important than the process. If we truly wish to steward creativity, we need to become aware of the environments we exist within at work, at home, and in our own minds.

Workshop participants were led through activities to experience first hand how self criticism can suppress their own creative instincts. Eddie then provided us with strategies to help unlock the creativity in others using conscious mindset shifts and facilitation techniques.

Creativity Workshop

Making Models to Design Better Experiences, by Mike Aurelio @aureliocity related his personal experiences and examples working everyday with multidisciplinary teams to solve large strategic problems to small tactical ones. He showed models that helped prevent team members from “solutioning” too soon and more importantly, clarify the understanding of the problem to achieve faster and more complete alignment amongst team members.  

Making Models to Design Better Experiences, by Mike Aurelio

The audience had a lot of questions about how we use models at DesignMap to understand concepts and problems as a team, see the big picture, and guide direction toward designing better experiences. The workshop portion provided participants a hands on experience of creating their own concept model of a vacation.

Making Models Workshop

Working well with team members, solving complex problems and being creative on demand are crucial skills for designers. We hope that by sharing our own experiences and knowledge via practical hands on workshops helps designers in our community sharpen those skills. We look forward to sharing future workshops, please get in touch if you have any requests or want to collaborate!

Ideas for future workshops

As part of a followup survey we asked attendees what other workshops might be interesting to them. The list is based a subset of the series of brownbags we’ve done here at DesignMap or occasionally for clients.

  • Sketching Beyond UI
  • Accessibility
  • Grids and Responsive Design
  • Using Sketch in the Enterprise
  • Creating Personas
  • User Research 101
  • Presenting Your Work
  • Crafting Successful Kick-off Meetings
  • UI Prototyping

If you have any interest in attending the next time we host workshops like these, gaining access to the videos of the above workshops, or even suggestions about other topics we might cover, email us at

Design Director

Sunny Yang

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