Day 2 of Design: Let's Make Some Toast

Human-Centered Design

Yesterday we talked about the designer’s mindset. One important part of it is putting the people you design for at the center of the process. Don Norman popularized the concept of “human-centered design” in his 1988 book, The Design of Everyday Things. Among The Four Fundamental Principles of Human-Centered Design and Application, we are going to chat about two today, “Be people centered” and “use a systems approach”.

Mental Models

Mental models are how people think about, understand, and explain how things work in the real world. Understanding mental models helps us understand the variety of ways we see the world. It reflects prioritizing human capabilities and designing for them, rather than requiring people to conform to how a technology works. 

Systems Thinking

A systems approach sounds intimidating--I’d like to understand it as considering all components and players that are interdependent. If you want to improve how your toast tastes, you not only want to find a good toaster but also buy good bread, put your toaster on the optimal setting, practice your butter-spreading technique, etc etc.

Speaking of Toast...

Here's today's challenge: DrawToast

The DrawToast exercise is developed by Tom Wujec, Fellow at Autodesk and author of four best-selling books on creative thinking and design tools. It is a simple and fun introduction to our two topics today, because everyone understands the system of making toast a little differently.

What you'll need: Paper; sketching utensils

Time: 5 minutes

Instructions: Draw a picture of how to make toast. That's it!


  • Invite your friends and family to do this exercise together. What’s similar in your drawings, and what’s different?

  • Watch Tom Wujec’s TED talk on this exercise. What did you include in your drawing, and what did you leave out? 

For your reference, here's how I make toast (yes, with the broiler lol):

Don't forget to share your work with us on Instagram or Facebook with #cocollabcreativechallenge or reply to this email! We'd love to know how you make toast! ;)

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