Surrounding Signifiers is the catch-all name for Thomas Wendt's work, which includes a mix of independent scholarship, design consulting, training, speaking, and teaching

I frequently teach, write, and speak on a variety of topics including philosophy and design, information architecture, lean process and theory, design research, and design thinking. I have delivered presentations at domestic and international conferences, and my articles have been published in both academic journals and practitioner publications. I am the author of a book entitled Design for Dasein, which deals with the relationship between (post)phenomenology, experience design, and design thinking.

My design skills span across human-centered design, systemic design, facilitation, design research, sensemaking, critique, and service design. 

Research interests include the philosophy of design, design ethics, sustainability, discursive design, and questions of rationality and irrationality.

Contact me for:
- Short term consulting on a design problem you face
- Project-based workshop facilitation: I use custom workshops to move through complex projects, emphasizing collaboration and rigor
- Educational workshop facilitation: I design bespoke curriculum to help your team beef up on human-centered design, design thinking, service design, and even design theory
- Leading design project teams through complex, ambiguous, challenging projects
- Speaking engagements: I'll give a talk about any design topic that mixes accessibility with depth


My Background

My work is influenced by phenomenology, the study of human experience. In its  attempt to describe how we construct meaning through objects, phenomenology provides the theoretical groundwork for experience design.

My work is influenced by phenomenology, the study of human experience. In its  attempt to describe how we construct meaning through objects, phenomenology provides the theoretical groundwork for experience design.

Anthropology provides insight into culture and how humans operate within it. Understanding cultural systems is crucial to gaining a deep knowledge of end users. 

Anthropology provides insight into culture and how humans operate within it. Understanding cultural systems is crucial to gaining a deep knowledge of end users. 

Psychology focuses on the cognitive patterns, needs, wants, and desires of the individual. Research is not only dependent on the psychology of the user but also psychology of the researcher. 

Psychology focuses on the cognitive patterns, needs, wants, and desires of the individual. Research is not only dependent on the psychology of the user but also psychology of the researcher. 

The literary arts emphasize deep understanding that comes from close reading. Critical interpretation skills are necessary for getting beyond surface level insights and revealing core problems.

The literary arts emphasize deep understanding that comes from close reading. Critical interpretation skills are necessary for getting beyond surface level insights and revealing core problems.

Design Thinking informs my approach to research as an empathetic exercise. The aim is not only to understand people but to also understand the contexts in which they live, work, and play.

Design Thinking informs my approach to research as an empathetic exercise. The aim is not only to understand people but to also understand the contexts in which they live, work, and play.

We are surrounded by meaningful things, and semiotics is the field of study that seeks to understand them. From language to clothing to food, our understanding of the world is based on complex meaning systems.

We are surrounded by meaningful things, and semiotics is the field of study that seeks to understand them. From language to clothing to food, our understanding of the world is based on complex meaning systems.