Li-Ning - Rediscovering Sports in Modern China

In the process of designing youth-oriented footwear and apparel, Li-Ning found that not only was it failing to offer a product and retail experience that resonates with Chinese youth, but so was the competition. This presented Li-Ning with a unique opportunity to develop an understanding of China’s emerging youth market. The subsequent research effort created the foundation for all later design work on Li-Ning’s product strategy, brand identity and retail design.

"Conducted in 10 Chinese cities over 5 months, this project was astonishing in its scope, depth of research and impact. The body of work done here has led to the complete redesign of a famous Chinese brand, and it has added fresh insights to the somewhat poorly understood area of modern Chinese youth identity and the vast emerging youth market.
What I like most about this project was that it wasn’t meant to exist – the client simply wanted footwear and apparel designs, but the designers were able to show the need for - and value of – conducting design research as part of an integrated approach.
The design industry often talks about an ‘integrated consumer experience’. This team really pulled it off, creating a foundation that informed a vast array of touchpoints, from clothing to retail stores to brand identity." – Anton Andrews, Director Strategic Experiences, IEB Design, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft

Credits: Ziba Design and Li-Ning (China)

Contact: Julia Carpenter:

Hearing Aid User Experience

This research and design project helped a leading hearing aid manufacturer to understand the physical and emotional challenges faced by its customers and drive innovation in its product line. For over two years, a multidisciplinary team used research insights to develop and test two hearing aids that help reduce the stigma of wearing a hearing aid and improve the user experience.

Credits: Stuart Karten, IDSA, Ron Pierce, Erin Mays, Eric Schmid and Dennis Schroeder of Karten Design and Deb Corti and Sid Higgins of Starkey Laboratories Inc. for Starkey Laboratories Inc.

Contact: Anne Ramallo:

Herman Miller Compass - The Research Behind the Design

The goal for hospitals is obvious: help people get better. However, hospitals employ many stakeholders, and the goals of these stakeholders are not always aligned. This research focused on the patients and how to heal them, but also on understanding the needs of physicians, nurses, custodial staff, families, hospital administrators and architects in order to design a system that would help them all achieve their shared goal: better patient care.

Credits: Continuum Design Team with Herman Miller Inc.

Contact: Ed Milano:

Bedsider for the National Campaign for Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

The approach to this research intuitive was all about making young women feel comfortable talking about their intimate experiences and birth-control practices. The design team felt that it needed to do more than understand their lives and motivations; they needed to truly empathize with these women’s situations without making any judgments. So, during the interviews the designers spoke with women as peers rather than ad researchers.

Credits: IDEO Design Team for National Campaign for Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Contact: Katie Clark:

Homes That Rebuild Lives: A Concept Home for US Soldiers Wounded in Action and Their Families

This research project looked at developing a model to help injured US military personnel adapt to their disabilities—one that could lead to building accessible homes on military bases. It asked questions that shed light on how soldiers resume civilian life after debilitating injuries, what could make their experience more dignified and healthy, and what might reconnect them with family, close friends and the world.

Credits: IDEO Design Team for Clark Realty

Contact: Katie Clark:

Technology Heirlooms

Unlike sentimental objects that people can’t bring themselves to discard, people tend to keep phones and laptops for just a few years before disposing of them. The Socio-Digital Systems team within Microsoft Research wanted to understand why some objects become sentimental while others don’t, hoping to apply research findings in this area to the design of sentimental digital artifacts.

Credits: Richard Banks, Abigail Sellen, Sian Lindley, Phil Gosset and  Richard Harper of Microsoft Research (United Kingdom); David Kirk of Nottingham University (United Kingdom) and William Odom of Carnegie Mellon Universit

Contact: Richard Banks:

Afghanistan Mobile Money

The Afghanistan Mobile Money project sought to understand issues around the adoption of mobile money services in Afghanistan, with a focus on the M-Paisa money transfer service launched in 2008 by local operator Roshan. Specifically it researched the issues faced when introducing a mobile money system into a new environment and how it affects the day-to-day quality of life in a developing country.

Credits: frog

Contact Sara Munday:

Air New Zealand Long-Haul Innovation Program

At the beginning of 2007 the executive team at Air New Zealand set down a challenge to the project team to design a customer-driven innovation approach to the design of the pending 777-300ER aircraft. While the research insights, user needs and segmentation were used across all aspects of the long-haul program, designing for just two universal traveler needs, instead of individuals, opened up opportunities for experiences never before seen on an aircraft.

"The ANZ design research project was powerful not only in the clarity of its insights, but also in its visible impact on the design and, significantly, on the way the airline now does business.
Airlines usually treat economy passengers as a single category, and the design research team did a great job of shattering this myth. They really unearthed the acute differences in wants and needs between single travellers, families and couples. Having recently travelled long haul with a young baby for the first time, I could definitely empathize with the truth of their findings!

I love how the team complemented their research with method actors – stuck in their rough polystyrene seats in early cabin mockups for hours, I can imagine the actors took on the roles of the passengers and made issues pop much more clearly."  – Anton Andrews, Director Strategic Experiences, IEB Design, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft

Credits: IDEO, Synovate, Optimal Usability, Colmar Brunton, Society (New Zealand) for Air New Zealand

Contact: Geoff Suvalko:

Defining patient-centered design opportunities in stereotactic breast biopsy

In this research and design project, ethnographic methods were employed to define opportunities for improving the delivery of care in stereotactic biopsy procedures. Extensive observation and contextual inquiry with patients and clinicians helped shape the design of user-centered equipment, environments and interaction concepts that address three main issues: promoting patient comfort, managing patient attention, and streamlining the process and environment.

Credits: University of Notre Dame and Charlotte Lux
Contact: Charlotte Lux:


GE Mammography: Redesigning the Women's Breast Health Journey

As part of a $1 billion global commitment to accelerate cancer innovation, GE partnered with designers, foundations and corporations to reimagine the breast-cancer screening and treatment journey. To gain a better understanding of the full screening cycle and its relationship to the emotional and physical needs of women, GE launched a design research project that explored the reasons why some women don’t get screened more frequently.

Credits: IDEO design team, Sub Rosa design team with GE and GE Healthcare
Client: GE and GE Healthcare
Contact: Andrea Pomerance: