Smart Design Researcher Emphasizes Collaboration between Disciplines in DEC Dialogues

Ayca Cakmakli emphasized integrative design at the second DEC Dialogues Lecture.

The business world is looking for students who can do it all, Smart Design researcher Ayca Cakmakli said in the second DEC Dialogues lecture on Oct. 12.

“At Smart Design, we integrate perspectives and different capabilities to come up with successful designs,” she said to first year students in the Integrative Design Processes course. “Companies are really looking for people who can follow an integrative approach, so you are all in a good place.”

The DEC Dialogues Lecture Series give freshmen students in the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce (DEC) the opportunity to learn from industry professionals about the design process and how to work well in teams. Cakmakli works as a design researcher, and visited campus to speak to students about the process her company uses to design new products and services.

Cakmakli said that at Smart Design, designers, engineers and business personnel work collaboratively on all projects. Engineers brainstorm and build prototypes and CAD models. Business people find new ways to attract customers and create new business models. And designers turn opportunities and ideas into successful products or services, she said, but all three roles are constantly in contact—an approach that mirrors the curriculum of the DEC curriculum.

A small group of Smart Design researchers called FemmeDen use their methods to look deeply at issues related to design and gender. Cakmakli said FemmeDen’s mission is to “save good women from bad products,” in an industry that tends that adopt the “shrink it and pink it” approach to designing for women.

One example she used said that nine out of 10 ACL injuries while skiing happened to women. Researchers found that the bindings used to connect skiers boots to their skis were designed with a male body structure in mind, failing to account for the angles and pressure on female skiers’ knees due to the differences in male and female anatomy. “Women aren’t miniature men,” Cakmakli said. And when design fails to recognize that fact, women can be adversely affected.

Another project Smart Design worked on was redesigning surgical scrubs used by doctors. The unisex scrubs were designed with a male body in mind, but by including new features such as an adjustable waist and a stretch v-neck collar, Smart Design was able to redesign the product to be more comfortable for both men and women.

“When we talk about designing for women,” Cakmakli said, “We want to focus on understanding and celebrating our similarities and differences.” She called it a new sensibility that can benefit both men and women.

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