As part of Beirut Design Week 2013, Linda and Simon are conducting a workshop entitled: MMM Plug-in for the Design Process



dates: tue 25 june from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

and fri 28 june from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

location: AltCity

Profile of attendees: Any field with good research skills and understanding of the design process (the workshop is considered as an advanced exploration of Design Thinking skills)

equipment: sketching pads – pens – stickies – device (pad/phone/computer) for research

for info and registration:

fees: $40


In a world of complexity where the parameters are in constant flux, designers strive to develop useful tools and processes that enable them to identify precisely and quickly where in the system they are thinking from. This will entail having methods that can assist and support them in approaching the task at hand from different angles. Accordingly they learn to move deliberately between the different levels of cognition and creativity.

The MMM scale is a practical plug-in to the design process used to measure the intention and effort invested in the process and its outcome.

The MMM scale stands for Mechanical, Mental and Mindful.

The hands-on workshop will take the participants in an intense journey of design thinking where they will become aware and able to better ‘control’ these MMM states throughout the design process.

The subject of study will encompass a wide range of design disciplines: graphic, interior, fashion, product, and architecture, among others.



Facing unpredictable and complex environments, problem-solving and decision-making become highly desirable assets. Education seeks innovative approaches and leadership skills capable of coping with change and embracing human qualities, and guiding students to embrace holistic thinking.

Universities in Lebanon play a major role in reforming students from the out-dated schooling system that focuses on teaching critical thinking only to solve problems of yesterday and do not prepare them to survive an ambiguous future.

The research presents a new design process as a teaching tool that allows instructors and students to alternate between creative and critical thinking that is not bound to context; encouraging them to accept change proactively.Induced at any level of the educational life cycle (school – higher education – professional) the clearly mapped steps of the process become an important learning and evaluation tool that ensures innovative problem solving skills to yet undefined circumstances.


The formulated model is a simple module that could be taken into consideration for a more efficient application of the design process when dealing with any specific problem/project related to design thinking and innovation in any field.

The study explores the application of the design process in the academic program that is still considered untapped despite the potential it represents. This potential is not only relevant to the students who can learn a methodology of thinking considered key, but also to the instructors who can use it as a teaching tool as well as an evaluation criteria.The combination of humane qualities such as emotion and empathy, with analytical and systematic measurement tools, results in a guided process that encourages the development of ideas and simplifies the act of decision-making; it qualifies as a life skill to promote leadership.









“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

With these words we closed the presentation of the research on the design process and leadership. This presentation was part of the 3rd World Conference on Teaching, Learning and Leadership in Brussels. The research study was initiated a year ago and the progress was presented at the Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference held at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

This talk was part of the Beirut Design Week 2012

In the synonym study of Scott, Foresman Advanced Dictionary, emotion and feeling are defined as pleasant or painful sensations produced in a person as a reaction to a stimulus of some kind. While feeling is explained being the general word, emotion is differentiated with its strong and moving nature.

In a realm where critical thinking is highly rated, informed decision-making requires detailed reasoning, in depth research and analysis of alternatives. However with the increasing speed of change, the complexity of the present situations and the ambiguity of upcoming events, trusting hunches becomes an asset. According to Dr. Stephen D. Brookfield, critical thinking researcher,  “It is important that we understand that our emotional reactions are the inevitable accompaniment of undertaking any kind of intellectual inquiry that is really challenging”.

While the knowledge base is becoming obsolete, designers are turning toward participatory human-centered processes, emotionally driven by expressive behaviors, gut feelings, empathy and mindfulness experiences. They take risks, enjoy and dream to change the world, and it works. Steve Jobs once said:” You need a lot of passion for what you’re doing because its so hard. Without passion, any rational person would give up.”

Steve Jobs’ passion relates to the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, “Self-Actualization”, and it translates into collective learning organizations where people and designers are expanding their capacities to create results that they truly want, where collective desires are freed and teaching and learning experiences are mutually nurtured, and understood as scholarship. (Ernest Boyer)

“Emotion Flows in Mindful Design” talk presented the research findings that show to what extent emotions are involved in the design process, not only as a component of creative thinking but as a major constituent of critical thinking which was assumed to be emotion-free.

Paper Abstract

paper published in Palma Journal (Volume 12 – Issue 1 – 2011)

Involvement in the flow of the curriculum and an understanding of the process of teaching design is necessary in order to equip students to become designers mastering effective design process. Critical thinking has long been the central focus of teaching in general; promoting analysis, comparison, synthesis and evaluation using established open-ended questions based on Blooms Taxonomy (who, what, where… choose, define, label, list, name, relate, etc.). Researchers agree that it is a logical and analytical method that is taught and acquired through practice.

However, to deal with constant changes in technology and increasingly more challenging paradigms, designers need to understand and apply the design process, which includes Critical Thinking and its complementary aspect Creative Thinking. Creative thinking, which is free flowing, non-evaluating and non-judging, implies ‘unlearning’ of assumptions, rules and linearity. Innovation cannot happen except through a daring leap into the unknown. Nonetheless, when critical thinking leads, creative thinking has to be induced in the process for innovative results. When creative thinking leads, critical thinking is needed to ensure that the solution is applicable and functional. Hence both processes are complementary.

This paper explores the different models of the design process in order to understand more precisely the different phases. As a result a new model is mounted reflecting the integration and the interrelation of both critical and creative thinking within the design process. This new model brings a new understanding to what is believed to be a misunderstanding in the existing literature.

Concurrently this paper aims to show how the thinking skills developed in the design process are applicable to all problem-solving in various disciplines; therefore it qualifies as life skills.


Dr. Kabat-Zin identifies Mindfulness as the act of paying attention moment-to-moment with non-judgmental awareness to something at hand. Others such as Schott R. Bishop, Zindel Segal have proposed a two-component model of mindfulness:The first component [of mindfulness] involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance.


Flow has several functions, as a noun it means the act of flowing; a continuous output or outpouring; a flow of ideas; a sequence in which operations are performed. As a verb flow means to move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity; to circulate, to move with a continual shifting of the component particles as in traffic flowing through the tunnel, to proceed steadily and easily, to exhibit a smooth and graceful continuity (Wikipedia). Mostly inspiring is the concept of Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi in his The Psychology of Optimal Experience, where he outlines his theory based on extensive research where at specific moments people had to say what they were doing and how happy they felt, unexpectedly the result showed that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow; identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove, an optimal state of intrinsic motivation where the person is fully immersed in what he is doing. Mostly relevant to Design and Creativity is the idea that the flow state implies a kind of focused attention, and indeed it has been noted that Mindfulness among other seems to improve a person’s capacity for flow. (Wikipedia)  (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990)


Design is a process with several links to both Mindfulness and Flow and all three are related and interactive, and enhances each other. So we propose that this link can offer insights into the nature of design and can enrich and stimulate the creative process. This unexpected and revealing result encourage further questioning and we set out to try to develop a tool for the Design Process that could function as a tool in education and professional process’. This path has been underway some years now.

 The blog mindful design flows is simply a platform to raise diverse questions. When one dares to ask questions, one realizes that concepts that presumably are clear in one’s mind may actually not be very clear, “what does it really mean?” this becomes an urge to research, investigate, disseminate and interact.

As per definition BHARAT simply means «spice» in Arabic and is commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Cairo and the Gulf. BHARAT is used to season meat, rice as well as lentils, among other dishes.

It is a fantastic flavor enhancer and can perk up any dish!

Spices: Black Pepper, Coriander, Cloves, Cumin, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Cassia, Allspice, etc.


Arab culture with its ancient civilizations has the potential to be a flourishing rich source of inspiration. This culture is reflected in architecture, calligraphy, textile, tiles, and wood cravings, among others; it constitutes an Arab visual language that offers a poetic design quality. As designers become citizens of the global village we suggest that this workshop can be an eye opener to new inspiration.


By attending this hands-on/discussion-based workshop, the participants will be able to return to their creative hub comfortably with the ability to develop new design solutions with an authentic Arabic feel and a unique expression.

1-Experience the sensuality and complexity of Arabic visual expression

2-Apply a creative design process based on basic design principles

3-Explore 2D and 3D design artifacts and various applications

4-Create a mystical blend of different styles and cultures for unique outcomes


Participants in the workshop will enjoy an experience where flavors and impressions blend with the arabesque visual culture, through a predetermined process resulting into a unique style.

Participants will be provided with arabesque elements and will be guided through an exploratory process. Through the hands-on experience the participants will be immersed into form, fluidity and the complexity of the Arabic visual culture.


The first BHARAT Workshop took place summer 2010, in Lebanon, with graphic design students in 3D design course.

BHARAT presentation shares a brief cultural background of the Arabic visual ornamentation and language, along with the results of the first workshop took part of the International Conference Design Principles and Practices, Rome, Italy, in February 2011. The presentation was followed with a hands-on exercise where international designers experienced the vernacular shape language of the Arabic culture.

Since the workshop is purely visual, it was easy to reach out to an international audience that can appreciate the visual quality of the Arabic form and react to it, regardless the languages barriers.

BHARAT was presented during Pecha Kucha night 11 in Beirut Souks, an event that took place in parallel with the international exhibition of World Press Photo.

We are two colleagues, who were once teacher and student, who developed a connection that became a friendship; through many small conversations over the years, we began to have deeper committed mature discussion, each question would lead to another question… this deep process in turn has made it possible to debate new ideas and concepts through a short-hand language; a few sentences and complex ideas are communicated and assimilated.

We are both Designers, and welcome the dramatic changes that social design and service design concepts have initiated and helped to bring the potential of design into all walks of life as the supreme problem-solving tool it is.

Linda Selwood Choueiri

Assistant Professor and Researcher

I have been teaching Design in higher education in Lebanon for 20 years, having graduated from Denmark’s Design School, Parsons School of Design/Bank Street College of Education, USA. I am currently Assistant Professor at Notre Dame University Louaize.

My research interests include the Design process, Right/Left brain thinking, and critical and creative Thinking. I am also currently studying Mindfulness and the possibilities it offers pertaining to Design and Education, resulting in a new concept for understanding, teaching and categorizing design called “Design & Mindfulness”. In my teaching I believe in the power of processes; it is no longer sufficient to teach ‘knowledge’, which is ever-changing and increasing, but rather processes that can function regardless of changing ‘truths’.

In 2006 I was instrumental in developing and opening the first B.A. in Fashion Design in Lebanon, at Notre Dame-Louiaze University. I hope to see the development of more contemporary design degrees in Lebanon.

Simon Mhanna

Assistant Professor – Communication Consultant and Researcher

I am an Assistant Professor, Communication Designer & Consultant, and Research savvy. With a clear vision that design is multidisciplinary, I obtained a MA in media studies and a MSc in international project management next to my BA in design. With my hybrid background I taught various design and communication courses at universities in Lebanon & recently in Qatar. I also worked for local and regional companies and clients in the branding field. I have a particular interest in researching creative processes, design thinking, design research, design education, media & attention economy, and cultural identities among other topics. I  conducted workshops and presented my research at several local and international conferences.