Design Thinking and Semiotics with Maria Collier de Mendonça

Date: 
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 -
05:00 to 08:00
Location: 
205 Richmond St. W., 4th floor, Suite 410
Community members: 

As contemporary life is increasingly awash in signs & codes, "coding & decoding" representations becomes an essential professional skill. How can we apply semiotics -- the study of signs and meaning-making -- as a strategic method? 

Our everyday life is mediated by a complex network of languages and codes, which builds representations of the world we live in. Semioticians explore cultural and communication phenomena through different perspectives. Design thinking investigates different possibilities for solving a problem by exploring multiple perspectives, both divergent and convergent angles, to raise alternative solutions.

 When applied to marketing and design thinking processes, semiotic analysis can take a deep dive into a specific sign to understand how its elements were brought together, or map an overall perspective of a specific scenario in order to identify codes which are recurrent within the studied context. Semiotics allows us to decode emergent, dominant and residual codes, related to cultural meanings and trajectories of change.

 This workshop will begin by introducing semiotic methods as valuable tools to be applied in the problem finding phase of the design thinking process. After that, a semiotic exercise will be given, stimulating participants to analyse what “smart cities” means through the investigation of visual and textual codes, which are most frequently associated with this concept.


Maria Collier de Mendonça holds a PhD in Communication and Semiotics. She has 20 years of experience in qualitative research and brand strategy. She is skilled in applied semiotics, strategic planning and qualitative projects (in-depth and ethnographic interviews, focus groups, both online and face-to-face), having worked for a variety of industries and advertising agencies in Brazil (Ogilvy, JWT, Y&R, among others).