Insight translation: bridging the gap between research and design

If design is problem solving, then design research is problem seeking. Expressing these design problems or opportunities in a meaningful and inspirational manner can be the difference between great design thinking and wasted time and money. Insight translation provides a
clear transition from customer meaning to product attributes – focusing team creativity for market success.

This presentation will demonstrate examples of insight translation and provide 4 principles for doing it:

-Meaningful: clearly linked to the research data

-Actionable: the research approach is designed to deliver data that affords translation

-Aspirational: expresses what people wish

-Inspirational: inspires companies to pursue great design and ignites designer intuition


For two decades Marty Gage has pioneered participatory design techniques in order to liberate the unspoken desires of user populations. He has established that user involvement at the earliest stages of the development process provides unprecedented insight for designers, engineers and marketers. Using multi-sensory toolkits along with state-of-the-art ethnography, he provides creative fuel for design firms, engineering firms, and corporate design teams internationally. His intimate experience with creative teams and his understanding of the design process allow him to turn research findings into simple, actionable design criteria and opportunities. His body of work crosses industrial and consumer product categories encompassing subject matter as diverse as weapons systems and baby diapers.

Marty recently merged his design research firm, Rocket Surgery, with lextant Corporation, a user experience consultancy. This merger is the logical extension of a long collaboration with Chris Rockwell, founder and president of lextant. Marty heads the Design Research Practice at lextant.

Marty founded Rocket Surgery in 2002, after having co-founded the research firm SonicRim in 1999. Previously he practiced as a member of the research team at Fitch Inc. for 10 years, where he helped to establish Fitch as a leader in design research.

Marty has won numerous design awards and has published widely on design research, including a chapter on participatory design research methods in the book, Human Factors Testing and Evaluation Methods. He has served on the Business Week-sponsored Industrial Design Excellence Awards jury, evaluating the research entries in particular, and is frequently asked to speak at design conferences and schools such as The College of Creative Studies, The Cranbrook Academy, The Ohio State University and The Savannah College of Art & Design. Marty holds his BA in Psychology from Hendrix College and earned his MS in Human Factors Psychology from Wright State University.

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