Pigalle Tavakkoli is an Experience Design Educator, Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, University of The Arts London, and Founder & Director School of Experience Design.

In our increasingly interconnected and technologically advanced world, the dynamics of society, audience needs, and landscapes are constantly evolving. Recognising this, in 2012 Pigalle and Susanne Buck co-developed the first short course in Experience Design in the UK, held at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Experience Design, distinct from User Experience (UX) design encompasses an innovation mindset and practice which goes beyond designing the form and function of a product, event or service, to also design audience emotions, memories and long-term impact.

Pigalle recognised that there was a need for a short course in Experience Design that embeds an innovative approach, to enable students to think holistically and create sustainable solutions in response to complex circumstances. In response to this need, she co-developed a course that prioritises the development of emotional intelligence and practical skills crucial for navigating 21st-century challenges.

Students engage in real-world challenges, with the option to propose their own projects, practicing the application of theories and methods to design solutions with lasting impact. Activities encourage students to apply their learnings across various situations, exploring different facets, deepening understanding, and gaining confidence in addressing complex issues. Through fostering an open mindset, active listening, empathetic enquiry, and broadening perspectives, students cultivate analytical thinking and constructive critical analysis. They learn to approach challenges with a solution-oriented mindset, increasing confidence in creative problem-solving and adaptability to fast-changing circumstances. Additionally, students gain practical skills such as articulating their vision effectively, drawing inspiration from multidisciplinary sources across the arts, sciences and business, collaborating effectively, and employing agile methods. Equipped with the Experience Design process she has developed, they can translate their vision into tangible projects and progress in their careers.


The Process

The course journey comprises three sections, with a focus on hands-on activities (70%) complemented by presentations (30%). Initially, students EXPLORE theories and methods through visually-led presentations, followed by collaborative group brainstorming and practical activities.

Midway through the course, students transition to EXPERIMENT, bringing their ideas to life through rapid prototyping and 3D hand modelling, utilising recyclable materials. They test prototypes, provide feedback, and iterate to refine their designs.

In the final phase, students move beyond the classroom to DISCOVER the effectiveness and impact of their designs in real-life settings. They test prototypes within the university and then in public spaces, gradually building confidence and understanding through practical application and real-world feedback.

In place of the traditional role of a formal teacher, Pigalle adopts the position of a supportive facilitator to create a welcoming learning environment. Rather than delivering one-way lectures, Pigalle fosters two-way dialogue, allowing for a fluid exchange of learning between Pigalle and the students, among the students themselves, and back to Pigalle. This approach establishes a non-hierarchical, inclusive atmosphere.


Find out more about the course here.

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Edited by Tasha Day (UIIN)