Empathy Lab: Ethical Principles Enquiry for Design Education

Main Article Content

María Paula Barón Aristizábal
Margarita Echavarría Quinchia


In this article, we describe the process of creating a toolkit intended to trigger a reflection on the ethical aspects of the design process in students, so that they can develop individual ethics. Following Wildevuur, Van Dijk and Schot, we understand the design process as a practice that requires awareness and openness, through exchanges that combine expectations and emotional ties that support identity, independence, and mutual recognition. Consequently, the toolkit proposes to face different academic challenges whose common aim is to include empathy in the different stages of a design project. Building from the iteration of the toolkit, we propose three new principles for the inclusion of ethics in the design process: admiration, commitment, and integrity. These principles expand the three concepts raised by IDEO ‒ respect, responsibility, and honesty, addressing a more emotional dimension of each.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Barón Aristizábal, M. P., & Echavarría Quinchia, M. (2020). Empathy Lab: Ethical Principles Enquiry for Design Education. Diseña, (17), 106–127. https://doi.org/10.7764/disena.17.106-127
Original articles
Author Biographies

María Paula Barón Aristizábal, Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia), Design Department


Designer, Universidad de los Andes. MA in Textiles, The Glasgow School of Art. She is an Assistant Professor in the Design Department of the Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia). Her research explores empathy, ethics, and narratives as disciplinary bases for the creation of desirable futures. She is a co-author of Building Trust: Questions to Create an Empathy-based Design Process (with M. Echavarría Quinchia; Uniandes, 2019). Among her latest publications stands out: ‘Can We Help as Designers to Build Relevant Spaces for Meaningful Dialogue through Storytelling as a Tool for Local Empowerment? A Case of Study in the Colombian Pacific’ (The Design Journal, Vol. 22, Sup. 1).

Margarita Echavarría Quinchia, Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia), Design Department


Industrial Designer, Universidad de Los Andes. MA in Design, University of New South Wales. She is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Design of the Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia). As a researcher, she focuses on materials innovation, manufacturing, people’s emotional well-being, and empathy as a fundamental part of the design process. She is a co-author of: Building Trust: Questions to Create an Empathy-based Design Process (with M. P. Barón Aristizábal; Uniandes, 2019).


BAMBERGER, M. (2012). Methodological Issues to Design and Implement Equity-focused Evaluations. In M. Segone (Ed.), Evaluation for Equitable Development Results (pp. 86–101). UNICEF.

BARÓN ARISTIZABAL, M. P., & ECHAVARRÍA QUINCHIA, M. (2019). De uno a todos: Preguntas para construir un proceso de diseño basado en la empatía. Uniandes.

BURTON, B., HENRY, M., MCCOLGIN, D., & SPINAT, D. (2013). Designing for Empathy: A Toolkit Created by Artefact. Artefact.

DESMET, P. M. A., & POHLMEYER, A. E. (2013). Positive Design: An Introduction to Design for Subjective Well-Being. International Journal of Design, 7(3), 5–19.

FINDELI, A. (2001). Rethinking Design Education for the 21st Century: Theoretical, Methodological, and Ethical Discussion. Design Issues, 17(1), 5–17. https://doi.org/10.1162/07479360152103796

GREENE, J. C., BOYCE, A., & AHN, J. (2011). A Values-Engaged, Educative Approach for Evaluating Education Programs: A Guidebook for Practice. University of Illinois. https://comm.eval.org/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=75bc9c3b-b169-4529-b2d3-642056d95f35&forceDialog=0

KELLEY, D., SURI, J. F., & IDEO. (2016). The Little Book of Design Research Ethics. IDEO.

MEADOWS, D. H. (2008). Thinking in Systems: A Primer. Chelsea Green Publishing.

MERRIAM, S. B., & TISDELL, E. J. (2015). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. John Wiley & Sons.

MONTEIRO, M. (2019). Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It. Mule Books.

NUSSBAUM, M. C. (2005). El cultivo de la humanidad: Una defensa clásica de la reforma en la educación liberal. Paidós.

OLIVER-HOYO, M. T., & ALLEN, D. (2006). The Use of Triangulation Methods in Qualitative Educational Research. 35(4), 42–47.

PAPANEK, V. (2012). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Thames and Hudson.

SIMON, H. A. (2019). The Sciences of the Artificial. MIT Press.

WILDEVUUR, S. E., VAN DIJK, D., & SCHOT, M. (2014). Enhancing the Value of Social Innovation: Introducing the ‘People Value Canvas’ to Support Designers in Value Creation. In J. Salamanca, P. M. A. Desmet, A. Burbano, G. D. S. Ludden, & J. Maya (Eds.), The Colors of Care: Design & Emotion 2014, 9th International Conference, Colombia (pp. 301–307). Uniandes.