Carmen Liu

Jan 26 Meet Carmen, Our New Associate Strategy Consultant

Carmen Liu recently left her home city of Toronto to become an Associate Strategy Consultant at Rêve—and boy, are we glad she did. As an industrial designer with a background in behavioral science, she is a perfect addition to our service design and human-centered design practice.

Carmen, welcome to Rêve! We are so excited to have you with us. You moved from Toronto to Minneapolis on the coldest day we’ve had so far this winter.

Well, luckily I checked the weather before flying and decided to wear at least three layers of everything before leaving Toronto. Although it was a pretty stuffy plane ride, it was worth it when I landed and faced the cold Minneapolis outdoors!

We love your background. You have a degree Industrial Design and another degree in Psychology. Would you share some insights about where the two disciplines intersect?

Actually, psychology and industrial design go hand in hand, since industrial design is based on insights about the people who are using the things we design. The ‘human-centered design’ process means designers need to know a lot more about humans, their psychology, their cultures, and their immaterial values. I think that beyond just designing products, designing for people, for behaviors and for change is very interesting!

What do you mean by designing for change?

It means looking at design as stewardship, as a systemic process. When you have an ideal future goal, you have to consider the changes that happen over time, and design for them.

What was the coolest project that you have worked on in your past?

I think the coolest project was when I designed for people with disabilities in rural Uganda as part of my final graduate work. My assignment was to help an NGO redesign wheelchairs for a rural region in Uganda, where there are a lot of people with disabilities from landmines. As I researched peoples’ needs, I realized that for them, it wasn’t just about having better wheelchairs, but about being truly independent and not depending on others economically. So I had to figure out how to create something that would really empower them—and it turned out to be a peanut grinder! Nuts and grains are a staple of the local diet, but to grind them, people had to travel to urban areas to use an electric mill or use a motar and pestle. So I designed a portable peanut grinder that could be hand-powered by wheelchair tricycles. I was co-creating with the end users and the local blacksmith, and together we went through iterations until we had found a solution that could be produced sustainably at a local scale. The final product enabled people to not only get around more conveniently, but run their own mobile business and achieve real independence.

What are you most excited about in your new role at Rêve? 

I’m really excited about being able to bring more tools for ethnography and prototyping that are unique to the design process and applying it to the great work we do work here. Our upcoming projects are going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to work with our team of super brilliant Rêvers!

What trends should we look out for in industrial design? Who are some of your favorite designers?

A few of my design heroes include Dan Hill, Oki Sato, and Jan Chipchase. The field of industrial design is changing and expanding from traditional product design into areas like service design, user experience design, and design strategy. New practices of innovative strategic thinking, multidisciplinary collaborations, and closer relationships between design and business are cropping up everywhere. So today, the concept of designing with people, instead of just for people, is becoming more mainstream. In addition, the ever-growing maker movement is fueling the Internet of Things, which changes the way people and products are interacting.

Thank you, Carmen—we can’t wait to see what you will be cooking up for us here at Rêve in the future!

Thank you!

Katharina Eggers
Katharina Eggers

Passionate about observing major sea changes in business, technology and culture, Katie is especially interested in exploring the intersection of thought and technology, the nature of creativity in the digital age, and the role of good business in shaping a better future.