TJ Kim, associate professor of industrial design, works with
members of Chicago’s Living Hope Church in a workforce
training program to describe how simple designs (top), like
the combination bookend and pencil holder shown (middle),
can be created with a 3D printer. Members of the group
examine sample products designed by Kim (bottom). Photos
courtesy of TJ Kim.
training effort at Chicago’s Living Hope Church. By
teaching people how to design products, Kim aims to do
more than just find the next Steve Jobs or get the next selfie
stick to market.
The definition of what the design process is has
changed over the years, explains Kim. “In the past, the
typical person’s perception of design was about how you
make things look,” he says. “Then people like Steve Jobs
emphasized that it’s not just how things look, but also how
Now, explains Kim, the idea of the design process has
been taken one step further—it’s about creative thinking.
As he describes it, you sketch an idea, plan for production,
and iterate, iterate, iterate, but even if you don’t invent
the next Roomba at the end, you’ve created something
valuable—a creative, collaborative process all about
turning dreams into reality. Going through the multistep
process of designing a product has tremendous value
because it allows a community to empower and connect its
most ambitious thinkers.
At its best, design lets communities thrive, says Kim.
“Design is not just a way to create a product,” he says.
“Design is a way to help people think differently.”
By Wei-Huan Chen.