Surrounding Signifiers is the blanket name for Thomas Wendt's work, which includes a mix of independent scholarship and design practice. My work tends to focus on:
Workshop topics vary depending on client needs. Common approaches include facilitating a team through an active design project or organizing a session to teach design methods and mindsets to non-designers. Some are designed specifically for a single engagement, while others are a custom version of my existing curriculum. Topics might include human-centered design, design research methods, ideation and brainstorming methods, sustainability and design ethics, experience mapping, systems thinking, and service design.
Design research and insights
I work with organizations to better understand their users/customers/audience, using qualitative, ethnographic methods to uncover emerging and unmet needs. I am also a strong proponent of participatory design or co-design methods, which actively include end users in the design process. I have researched everything from emerging TV watching habits for a cable provider, patient-caregiver relationships for a healthcare company, and new revenue streams for a financial services company.
Futures work attempts to imagine possibilities for how an area of interest might evolve on a timescale of usually 2-30 years. Instead of looking for quick fixes to identified problems, futuring is concerned with macro-level trends that will affect how that area might change in the coming years. It is not about predicting the future; it is about analyzing possibilities so we can better decide what is preferable. I've worked in this space with an insurance provider, imagining the 5-10 year future of oral health care, and with a financial services company concerned with the evolution of privacy and security.
I provide consulting and advisory services on customer insights, innovation strategy, and design strategy. Some past topics include setting up an internal research practice, spreading innovation through a 40,000 employee company, and how to apply design thinking to university course offerings.
I have had the privilege of working with organizations such as:
New York Life Insurance
Virginia Retirement Systems
We Are Experience
The Design Gym
Natural History Museum
Metropolitan Transit Authority
Yale School of Medicine
Project details available upon request.