Tracks: Research Through Design

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.

This is a refresh of a talk given at the UXC Conference 2018 (User Experience Chair) in Montreal on November 6th, where Ariel spoke with Chrystel Black (Head of Design, Element AI), Cynthia Savard Saucier (Director of Design, Shopify), Jean-Francois Poulin (Head of UX at the City of Montreal), and emerging leaders in biometric UX testing technologies at HEC’s Tech3Lab.

Ariel Sim.

Director of Design Anthropology, MaRS Discovery District


Ariel is the Director of Design Anthropology at MaRS Solutions Lab / MaRS Discovery District. The Director of Design Anthropology is a champion of design anthropology, encouraging and training extreme empathy and curiosity for people.

As Director of Design Anthropology, Ariel leads the Solutions Lab’s design research and product development practice. She oversees all primary research plans and leads major lab projects through the full innovation arc. Ariel contributes vision and leadership, building qualitative and quantitative research capabilities that provide a strategic advantage for Solutions Lab in order for us to achieve maximum impact. Ariel drives business development efforts and manages major account relationships in support of Solution Lab’s mission.

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 co-led an R&D function for a mid-sized interpretation company. She started her career as an academic applied anthropologist.