March 2, 2023
With her background in design anthropology, Dori seeks to understand the past to create a better future.
“One advantage of being a professor is that I see the future every day in the work of my students. They care about using design to make the world more equitable and sustainable.”
Dori Tunstall recently visited the Design Observer podcast “The Design of Business | The Business of Design,” hosted by VSA’s Dana Arnett and dreams • design + life CCO Kevin Bethune. Dori Tunstall is Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) University in Toronto. Throughout her career, Dori has infused the principles of design anthropology into the corporate world and has helped establish design anthropology as an academic field of study. Her new book, “Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook,” was just released on February 14.
Ever since she was a child, Dori was a maker and doer. As her passion developed, she began trying to understand why people make things and the meanings behind the things they make. She saw that design decisions have a major influence on what we see, what we feel and what we experience out in the world.
Dori spoke with Dana and Kevin about design’s place in the world and her role in shaping how people utilize design and make it work better for everyone.
“Design’s superpower is its ability to open up other possibilities of how we do things and see things and experience things in a way that helps people decide: ‘Ah, this pathway might be better.’ So the work is equipping our students with the skills and the knowledge and the confidence to be able to do that. And, I would say, educating our clients on the real implications of the decisions they’re making.”
As one of the leading minds and proponents of design anthropology, Dori discussed the forces that have ruled design in the past, and the transition to new design systems and possibilities that are emerging today. Her goal is to instill more fearlessness and deeper interconnectivity as a means to give designers more freedom within the constraints they face on a daily basis.
“You’re not going to get their creativity, their innovation or their passion if you stop them from being who they are,” Dori said. “The onus is on design businesses not to crush that.
One advantage of being a professor is that I see the future every day in the work of my students. They care about using design to make the world more equitable and sustainable. How do we make a living and how do we make a better world, and can we get those two goals in alignment?”
“The Design of Business | The Business of Design” is a podcast from Design Observer, now in its 10th season. Dana Arnett and Kevin Bethune co-host the show, exploring how design works within complex organizations to shape decisions and processes, drive innovation, evolve products and services, and more.
Click here to listen to the episode and learn more about this Design Observer podcast.
For nearly four decades, Dana has been a guiding force behind VSA’s creation of brand programs, digital and interactive initiatives, and marketing solutions for its diverse roster of world-class clients. After serving for many years as VSA’s CEO, Dana guides the strategic growth of the agency in his current role as Chairman and Founder. Since founding VSA with Robert Vogele, his career has been steeped in design leadership, policymaking, business and brand consulting, and a long record of public service. He has been recognized internationally by multiple organizations for his contributions to design and design thinking, including the Smithsonian Institute. In 2016, Dana worked with the State Department under the Obama administration to brand and launch Spark, the first-ever government-led global entrepreneurship initiative. Dana is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale, a recipient of the AIGA Medal, and a former board member of the Architecture & Design Society at the Art Institute of Chicago and Project&. He recently served as National President of the AIGA and currently stars as the co-host of Design Observers’ The Design of Business | The Business of Design podcast.
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