Projects / Product Design Workshops | 2015

Design helps you build something people want.

In the fall of 2015, Living Labs developed and hosted a series of Product Design and Development workshops for the Vancouver startup community, with support from the Discovery Foundation. Led by Haig Armen and Afshin Mehin, the workshops gave participants access to two of Canada’s top designers who train business and technology leaders in design methods and Lean UX in order to make their products usable by humans.

Ideal for emerging software and hardware companies in the early stages of product development, participants learned to integrate smart design thinking into their product development process. Led by Canada’s top design experts, these practical, compact and hands-on workshops were offered for hardware and software startups looking to break out of old patterns and gain actionable strategies for improving product usability.

Participants learned how to:

  • Turn user testing into design insight
  • Bypass common failures and accelerate the problem-solving intelligence of your team
  • Fit Lean UX into your day to day
  • Make decisions using data-driven design
  • Go from Minimum Viable Product to Minimum Valuable Product

Why? Because understanding design makes product better!

Friday, November 20, 2015 – 9:45 – 4:00 pm, Discovery Parks, 887 Great Northern Way, Vancouver
$150; limited space

Thursday, December 10, 2015 – 9:45 – 4:00 pm, Discovery Parks, 887 Great Northern Way, Vancouver
$150; limited space

9:45   Coffee and Registration
10:00 Kickoff
10:30 Interactive Session 1: Ideation

12:00 Lunch (provided)
12:30 Interactive Session 2: Prototyping
2:00   Interactive Session 3: Testing and Synthesis
3:30   Presentations and Wrap up



Haig Armen is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Design and Dynamic Media at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where he leads the Interaction Design program. Armen is an award winning designer with over 15 years experience. He was a key figure behind the concept, strategic and design development for CBC Radio 3, a project that earned over 20 international awards. He is the founder of influential interactive design boutique LiFT studios, working with clients including BMW, Chanel, and Nokia. Armen is the Founder of Mineblock.


Afshin Mehin earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of British Columbia in 2002 and a Masters degree in Industrial Design from The Royal College of Art in 2004. He began his career as an industrial designer in San Francisco and, after spending eight years gaining valuable experience working with prestigious designers – both in UK and US – he returned to Canada. In 2012 Mehin founded WOKE, a boutique design agency specializing in rethinking the design of today’s smart products, interfaces and environments. Prior to founding WOKE, Mehin worked with international firms such as BarberOsgerby and StudioConran in London, IDEO and Whipsaw in San Francisco, and the M.I.T. Media Lab Europe in Dublin. He was responsible for designing products and interactions for leading companies including LG, Samsung, Western Digital, Renault, Hyundai, Kia, and the 2012 London Olympics. 

I have an early stage technology SaaS startup. Is this workshop for me?  Yes.

My product is in the connected devices space. Is this workshop for me?  Yes.

I don’t have a company, just an idea, or part of an idea. Is this workshop for me?  Yes.

There are five people on my team. Should I send them all, or just the product guy?  Send them all. This workshop is designed for CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, developers -everyone. The emphasis is on how to work through product development and problem solving from a design perspective, which involves everyone on your team.  The more people from your team who are there, the more you will be able to apply these tactics to your day-to-day processes.

Kate Armstrong, Director, Living Labs, Emily Carr University of Art + Design


Project Partner


Discovery Foundation | The visionary Dr. Patrick McGeer, then Minister of Education for the Province of BC, founded Discovery Foundation nearly 35 years ago. Created to promote and support the province’s high technology research and development industry, the Discovery Foundation has gone through many evolutions since its formation in 1979. Government involvement ceased in 1991 but the Discovery Foundation has continued its efforts as a private organization with a public mandate. A registered charity now governed by its own Board of Directors, the Discovery Foundation’s mandate is to promote and facilitate innovation and the development of the technology sector in British Columbia.

This workshop is produced by Living Labs, one of four research centres at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, one of the top design schools in the world. Living Labs focuses on developing projects and partnerships that use art and design as a mechanism for innovation and community building. Director Kate Armstrong has extensive experience forming programs and initiatives with partners including Launch Academy, Microsoft, Rogers, The Next Big Thing Foundation, Mozilla, GrowLab, and HIGHLINE.





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