D-School Fellowship Application

Welcome, I'm Joana.
This page shares a holistic overview of my practice, including projects, teaching pursuits and interests.


Oceans & Design for Qualities

The ocean-related topic I am keen to pursue focuses on 'qualities of sustainability'. 
This concept developed through my PhD (2017).  It is a new frame to look at sustainability from the angle of - what we experience, rather than what we measure.


Selected projects

PhD Research Degree (2013-2017)
title "Design for Communication: a collaborative practice to amplify qualities of sustainability"

Undoubtably the most complex and rewarding self-driven project I have completed. 
I initially feel in love with field research while working for Doi Tung Sustainable Development Project in Thailand 2010.  I was there working as a communications designer after completing my masters degree.  A PhD was never an objective in career or academia, but rather, serendipitous decision.  I saw the opportunity to expand on a project of my own over the course of four years as a unique life experience. 
This was fully funded.

My research was titled "Design for Communication: a collaborative practice to amplify qualities of sustainability"
During this process I developed and tested a new method "Assembly".  It brings together small businesses with a sustainability mission and a sample of the public to co-create new solutions to amplify their qualities of sustainability. 


"The historical review of sustainability in design showed a predominant technical discourse focused on ways to assess the material and quantifiable impact of design, for example, ecodesign frameworks and material life cycle. A contemporary and emerging discourse focuses on a qualitative perspective of sustainability that is the focus in this research. The complex nature of social innovation initiatives described earlier has shown to be rich in qualities (Manzini & Tassinari, 2013) that cannot seem to be analysed through technical sustainability models. For this reason, recent conceptual frameworks have brought about a new conversation focused on what is here referred to as qualities of sustainability."  (thesis section 2.4) 


This video is an overview of prototyping workshops with 17 start-ups in sustainable food futures.  The objective was to develop and iterate a new design method that supports small sustainable businesses to articulate and amplify their qualities of sustainability.

More information on my PhD journey on this page & research journal entries

Full Thesis here 




EDACY (client)
Design thinking bootcamp for unemployed graduates in Senegal (2017)

A project for Edacy Africa in collaboration with a team of designers: Sami Niemelä and Monika Zych of Nordkapp Helsinki, Ashwin Rajan and Samuel Hailemariam

Edacy trains graduates in engineering and technology in soft skills by full immersions with partner enterprises to get African graduates into jobs and entrepreneurship.

As a team of designers with a combined wide spectrum of expertise, we co-created and implemented an immersive bootcamp in human-centred and service design methods attainable to non-experts.  A range of thinking tools were shared with the participants who worked on briefs from local Senegalese enterprises.

In this project, some of the methods explored in my PhD focused on empowering non-design experts to 'design' were also used.  

Project also supported by Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique Senegal and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.


In this project I focused on storytelling.  Delivered a workshop on crafting the story and pitching to an audience.  It was important to adapt my 'western' approach of design, including cultural references and language to the local context.  This is a challenging yet rewarding aspect of working in such diverse cultural scenarios.


Storytelling canvas I developed for the workshop. 
The objective was to take these unexperienced students (and unfamiliar with design thinking language on a journey to craft a story pitch)

JCL storytelling canvas.jpg




Forum For The Future UK (client) 
Toolkit for sustainable additive manufacturing (2014)

I moved away from graphic communication design some years ago to focus on field research, facilitation and prototyping.
This was the last project that bridged both field research through workshops with participants and graphic design of final outcome.

Read more about this project here


Research workshop exploring 'precious' objects, what it means to waste and to preserve materials.


Outcome Toolkit for Additive Manufactoring and Fablabs



University of Arts London (client)
UAL Futures Lab


Design research and workshop facilitation for Platform UAL Futures.  We worked with over 150 students, staff, alumni and creative industry partners on a research and co-design project exploring ways we can support digital creativity at UAL. 

We designed a series of workshops with the aim of;
- Exploring and identifying themes in the current digital skills and learning landscape.
- Identifying the needs and behaviors of students in relation to digital skills. 
- Mapping students’ creative journeys and ways they access and apply digital technology.
- Bringing students and creative professionals together to share insights, ideas and come up with solutions to the challenge of improving digital skills.
- Exploring how outcomes might be developed into income generating enterprise opportunities to enable UAL Futures to become sustainable.
- The project had input from over 150 students, staff, alumni and creative professionals. In workshops we were also joined by speakers from the creative industries and education including the Tate, Hyper Island, Hirsch and Mann, General Assembly and UAL.

Responding to student’s needs, behaviors and challenges, these are our findings, along with recommendations for ways UAL can approach the delivery of new content, services and experiences. 

Output: UAL Futures Learn Report




Teaching Experience


IDEO U Teaching Assistant (Jan 2017-present)

I have collaborated with IDEO U team since January 2017.  My role is to support learners through the learning journey by giving feedback on the assignments, hosting community conversations once a week (live webinar).  On the back end, I support the team with gathering insights on effectiveness of assignments for learners and identifying challenges in their learning experience.  I have grown familiar with the IDEO methodology in design thinking, particularly, through courses Storytelling for Influence, Insights for Innovation and Leading for Creativity.

IDEO U team includes Emily Havens and Gabrielle Santa-Donato

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Design Professor - CODE University of Applied Sciences Berlin (Sep 2017 - present)

I have had the chance to be a founding professor of a new university that defies the future of learning.  CODE University is an accredited university in Germany offering bachelors degrees in software engineering, interaction design and product management.  The exciting aspect is my design students work in interdisciplinary project groups for duration of 10-15 weeks.  During this time I follow their learning journey through our design guilds (project crits) and team mentoring on soft skills and collaboration methods.

My role as design professor (official professorship in Germany) is to run the design methods modules.  I teach introduction to field research, gathering insights (through interviews, observations, etc) prototyping and evaluation.  My teaching style does not specify which methodology students should use (Double Diamond methodology, Design Thinking process..) but give them the freedom to experiment and chose.

Other academic engagements

Hyper Island - Supervisor in Masters Digital Media Management - 2016
Green School Bali Indonesia - Workshop on service design - 2016

California College of Arts - Visiting speaker - 2015
Pasadena Arts Centre - Visiting speaker - 2015
Ansal University New Delhi - Visiting speaker - 2015
National Institute of Design Bangalore - Academic Conference Speaker - 2014

Mentoring experience

Civic Innovation Fellowship Manila, Philippines - 2017
WhatIF Innovation Programme Switzerland - 2017
Edacy, Senegal - 2017
Wedu, SE Asia, 2016




Design Methods & Tools



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A design method outcome of PhD research.  This is a unique method that combines designerly thinking for sustainability.

The canvas and set of cards is used in a workshop format by businesses looking to communicate or articulate their sustainability mission. 

This journey helps them to articulate their qualities of sustainability and create new ways to maximise their resources to amplify those qualities.

I have facilitated workshops using this method in London, Lisbon, San Francisco and Senegal






I have also used this method with design students at ArtCenter College of Design Pasadena within the module Sustainable Design.



Personal Process

Having a philosophy of practice is part of my reflexive approach to design.  

As I transition through maturing as a designer, education, researcher, journaling and reflective practice become increasingly important.  Through travelling the world for projects in diverse cultural contexts my worldview as a designer expands.   

Design Dharma is my side-project at the moment.  A book I am writing about the spiritual lives of designers (the inner life) and how this informs their practice in the world (the outter life).  How the intangible informs the tangible.