Zaza Kabayadondo lectures on critical design in “Learn to Think Like a Designer”

For Zaza Kabayadondo, everyone has the potential to be a designer.

The co-director of the Smith College Design Thinking Initiative and Taylor Visiting Scholar held a seminar, titled “Learn to Think Like a Designer,” to share her work designing accessible and equitable design thinking curriculum with Tulane faculty and staff.

Launched in 2015, the Smith College Design Thinking Initiative incorporates design thinking into interdisciplinary projects across the campus and curriculum.

In her teaching, Kabayadondo encourages students to view design thinking as an attitude rather than a process. She feels it is way to explore different stories and narratives and wants to get others “thinking about design as a way of engaging in the world in as many different ways…”

 Zaza Kabayadondo presents on Design Thinking and its intersection with healthcare in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Kabayadondo also challenges her students to engage in “critical design,” a process that challenges assumptions, reframes existing models and shifts mindsets. “Design thinking when turned critical is about challenging those social systems,” she explained.

Kabayadondo opened her talk by asking the audience to examine and process a photo of a man on a stretcher, coming out of a hospital. After asking viewers what they saw, she pointed out that the stretcher and the building in the photos belonged to two different hospitals. She went on to explain how the transportation issues and lack of healthcare represented in the picture present a public health crisis and a prime design thinking challenge. 

The Smith College director spent years researching technology in emerging markets and design thinking. After asking audience members for their thoughts, they made suggestions about how to improve transportation and use mobile health care, proving Kabayadondo’s thesis about everyone’s capacity for design.