Joy H. DohrProfessor Emerit

I have long had a passion for design — particularly the creative process involving creative seeing, creative thinking, and making. I have studied the topic from perspectives of adult learning, lifespan development with older adults, professional career development of interior architectural designers, and through the element of environmental color and place design. The scholarship was instrumental in my teaching, whether Fundamentals of Design, Three-Dimensional Design, Environmental Color, or seminars on Creativity and Design. Significant to me after using various methods of inquiry to study creativity in design, I now hold that narrative inquiry is a best method to study and analyze its reality. Narratives — the stories of designers, clients, users, and design projects — offer ways to tap the authenticity and truth involved, revealing makers of what is memorable in the process and the experience of place.

I co-authored “Design Thinking for Interiors: Inquiry, Experience, Impact” with Margaret Portillo (now at the University of Florida and who received her master’s and PhD from our department and school). It culminates my search and our desire to give explanation and meaning to work in design studies and impact of interior architecture. Given a holistic view for understanding relationships of designer, product/place, clients, and users over time, the topic translates well to an engaged thinking approach found in human ecology. The writing is about the journey of living design and features many narratives. As stated in our preface, “Designers work in an environment that addresses large and complex issues and in collaborative settings.” This requires critical, creative, and consequential thinking. “Depth in design aligns substantive ideas and know-how with socially pertinent development and ultimately environments meaningful to individuals.

See Also

  • Leadership roles and recognition
    • Former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs under Dean Robin Douthitt
    • IDEC Past President and Chair of Board
    • Former Trustee of FIDER (now CIDA)
    • IDEC Arnold Friedmann Educator of Distinction for 2014
Black and white portrait of Joy Dohr.


  • Design Studies


  • PhD, University of Wisconsin–Madison


Phone: 608-231-1084