15 Buzzwords for 15 Years: Collaboration

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Krystina Castella February 1, 2016


Krystina_Castella_600px-475x443Designmatters studios produce numerous learning outcomes for students beyond the social change initiative taken on in the course. The partnership with the sponsor organization is the first collaborative alliance offering students an opportunity to learn and engage as an active participant with the community they will join. As the sponsor challenges the students to creatively solve a problem, students learn how the world works. The open dialog builds the students confidence. Students take on the role of the creative experts and the sponsor is the supporter and audience. Students teach sponsors creative methods to help better meet their common goal of providing solutions to worldwide problems.

The second collaboration touch point is within the trans-disciplinary student team. Unexpected surprises happen when a photographer, product designer, interactive designer and an advertising student join together. Each student brings individual life experiences, diverse cultural upbringings, varied interests and perspectives to the subject displaying the many ways to see and converse about a problem. They model and teach their peers thinking processes and skills they have learned in their home discipline. Throughout the term they participate in an ongoing conversation sharpening the critical thinking skills, fielding questions, prioritizing, making choices, and defending decisions. It is not always easy. There are compromises, challenges, and disappointments when individual concepts don’t move forward all in the effort of creating a stronger unified team vision and strategy for success. Throughout the process from research to presentation teamwork helps students to become more independent.

In many courses students are asked to assemble a co-design team of users in their target audience and additional experts from the industry to participate in the iterative design process. These groups becomes yet another area where collaboration is necessary for validation of the teams design strategies.

Lastly the final collaborative relationship is with the faculty members serving as mentors on the project. Professors nurture the strengths of individuals within teams, highlight insights, act as sounding boards, and help students to see missed opportunities. All with the end goal of taking the students to a place that they did not know they were capable of going with a successful outcome for themselves, the team and the sponsor.


Krystina Castella has practiced as an industrial designer and educator for over twenty years. She is a Professor of Industrial design and Entrepreneurship at ArtCenter College of Design. Her professional seminar Invention Innovation has helped hundreds of individuals start businesses and license products. She is founder of the Design Entrepreneur Network a membership community for creative professionals.

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