Improving air quality

Co-designing with doulas

Creating meaningful metrics

Adapting wayfinding


Fostering slow conversation

Playing in public

Reinventing the library

Designing an exhibit

User Experience

Telling the Soofa story

Prototyping an interface


Making eye contact



Gabrielle Clarke is a human-centered designer, design researcher, and strategist from San Diego, California. She graduated from Olin College of Engineering in 2018 with a degree in engineering and a concentration in human-centered design. She loves thinking about challenging problems at the system level, and also refining small details.

Resume / Linkedin


with doulas


I worked on a team that conducted a design research and co-design project with doulas, who are emotional caregivers for parents during the birth process, working anytime from pregnancy to the post-partum stage. The project was completed as part of an introductory course on design research and human-centered design practices.

We sought to learn about a user group, identify opportunities for products or services that might solve problems in those users’ lives, and then prototype solutions through a collaborative design process.

Research approach

We interviewed fifteen doulas, midwives, and perinatal specialists in the Boston area to establish an understanding of birth work. We used card sorting and collaborative sketching activities to identify priorities in doulas' lives and practices and opportunities for improvement.

Team member Tom leads a value card-sorting activity while interviewing a Boston-based doula.A team member guides a doula through a word mood card-sorting activity.


Many doulas experience tension when collecting compensation for their services, as they are not covered by many major health insurance policies, despite research suggesting that births with doulas in attendance have lower rates of medical intervention and therefore lower overall costs. In the United States, fewer than 20 major health insurance companies covered doula services at the time of research, and even these companies typically only did so occasionally and by special request.

Sketching interventions

Our research suggested that at the root of the insurance coverage issue was a greater cultural issue: our society does not accurately publicize the variety of choice expectant parents have when planning for birth.

We sketched interventions that would bring awareness to choice in birth and create demand for health insurance coverage for diverse birth services, including doula services. We brought our ideas to our users for critique and reworking.

A sketch of a possible intervention: a Netflix documentary titled "Life of a Doula." Many of our sketches took the form of media campaigns, such as this hypothetical Netflix Original documentary “Life of a Doula,” which might follow doulas in their practices.

Prototyping a solution

We prototyped a paradigm-shifting cultural intervention: an advocacy campaign centered around images of a variety of birth experiences and an inclusive and affirmative slogan, #yesthisisbirth.

The campaign sought to educate the public about birth options, challenge preconceived notions, invite people to engage in conversations about birth, and overall, create an expectation of empowerment and choice throughout the birth process.

Graphic highlights elements of poster designs, including language, font, and color choices. A graphic calls out different design elements in our poster prototypes and the logic behind design decisions made.

A poster shows a person hunched over a chair in labor, yelling, alongside the question, "What does birth look like to you?".An advocacy campaign poster asks a direct yet open-ended question of viewers, “What does birth look like to you?”.

Campaign posters feature people in labor in a variety of contexts.

More details

Keywords: user research, co-design, systems, graphic and communication design, human-centered design, social justice, education

Design researcher and human-centered designer, 01/2016 — 05/2016
User-Oriented Collaborative Design
Olin College of Engineering
Team: Tom Heale, Anne LoVerso, Brennan VandenHoek