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Ariel Sim

Design Anthropology and Design Thinking Expert

Ariel Sim

Design Anthropology and Design Thinking Expert

Biography

Ariel Sim

Ariel is the Director of Design Anthropology at MaRS Discovery District, where she is setting up a design and user research function focused in long-term foresight and urban innovation. We want to make the future of cities awesome, for everyone.

Ariel is interested in relationships that support better, more thoughtful design. She focuses on building technologies, organizations, and spaces that encourage both kindness and productivity. An anthropologist and futurist turned designer, Ariel imagines, creates, and tests design interventions to find common languages — spoken and unspoken — among people and the things they use. Beyond MaRS, Ariel advises organizations on topics of design ethics. She is also a member of JustLabs, an organization that brings together designers, human rights practitioners, and social scientists to catalyze social change.

Ariel previously worked as an Insights Manager at Doblin Deloitte, served in Technology & Humanitarian Affairs with the United Nations in Geneva, was a Visiting Design Research Fellow with the iHub UX Lab in Nairobi, and led an R&D function for a mid-sized interpretation company. She started her career as an academic applied anthropologist.

Keynote Topic:

How might we future proof user experience?

If user experience is on a mission to perfect functional and incremental design, design anthropology is on a mission to illuminate the social transformations that comes from large-scale changes to technology and systems. We will start by exploring a theory of social change that challenges us to broaden our view of design from tomorrow’s innovations to the 20-50 year view of how our designs reshape our behaviours and rules of engagement. We’ll then deep dive into the responsibility of designers, the transdisciplinary nature of modern design, and we will play with some scenarios of possible futures.

Videos: