Victor Papanek Going Forward




"Victor Papanek Going Forward"
IDSA Education Symposium, Portland, Oregon
Publication 2010


Doris Wells‐Papanek, IDSA | Tailored Learning Tools
Walter Hargrove, IDSA | Art Institute of Portland


Throughout the 2009‐2010 school year, Doris Wells‐Papanek, M.Ed. and Walter Hargrove, M.I.D. collaborated on an action research pilot study focused on developing a human‐centered design curriculum. The purpose of the study is to gain a better understanding of the relevance and influence of Victor Papanek’s past work on human‐centered design today.

Primary references of 
Victor Papanek’s research include an article written by Papanek in 1988 for MIT Press Journals, Design Issues entitled, “The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be” as well as an unpublished video recorded lecture Papanek delivered in 1992 at Apple Computer entitled, “Microbes in the Tower.”

Going forward into the present, additional references include highlights of perceptions, 
insights and experiences from two human‐centered design practitioner interviews along with human‐centered teaching and learning practices grounded in current applied research on brain-based teaching and student‐directed learning using a flexible instructional approach based on student learning needs.

The report concludes with a description of a do‐it‐yourself (DIY) human-centered 
and student‐directed learning process designed for a progression of assignments in an experimental History of Industrial Design class. Initial evidence of the learning experimentation indicates an 81 percent increase in levels of student engagement.

The teaching and learning 
methodology has successfully been applied and tested in various types of classes and demonstrates the capacity necessary to expand into a complete design curriculum pedagogy.



Primary Research 
Human-Centered Action Research

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, our society has experienced a historic shift in economic status. The fundamental context of a consumer-driven business model and therefore design decision-making process has been challenged. No longer can we design for people driven by a “bigger, better, faster” mindset. 

With good reason, a new agenda is on the table. Sohrab Vossoughi, Founder, and President of ZIBA Design sums up the 21st century society’s expectations and needs to be, "What we've seen over the past few years is a deep shift in consumer expectations. People want fewer things, and they want them to work better, last longer, and create more meaning. This makes good design more important than it's ever been." Coupled with this economic shift, our nation is faced with another related challenge.