Empathy in Design: Workshop for Melbourne International Design Week

artwork by Tibor Novak and title reading Empathy in design

Empathy in Design: Storyfolk Partners with the Gordon TAFE and NGV for Melbourne International Design Week Workshop.

Empathy is a driving force that shapes both the world of design and our everyday lives. At Storyfolk, we firmly believe in the profound impact of empathy, which is why we were honoured to be invited to participate in Melbourne International Design Week, hosted by The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Our mission? To delve into the incredible power of empathy within the realm of design thinking.

Storyfolk had the privilege of leading a two-hour design thinking workshop during this prestigious event, focusing on how empathy is a central pillar of the design thinking process. Our aim was to equip participants with practical tools they could seamlessly integrate into their daily lives. These tools encompass a deeper comprehension of the significance of brand values and why they are vital in today’s landscape. While the workshop was crafted with small business owners in mind, it offers valuable takeaways for anyone with innovative ideas to explore and students seeking to harness the potency of a personal brand during their job hunt or internship pursuits.

Understanding Empathy: A Key to Small Business Success

Empathy, in its essence, is an acute awareness of the emotions, needs, and concerns of others. You’ve likely heard the age-old adage, “put yourself in their shoes.” This simple phrase encapsulates the essence of empathy—the ability to truly understand another’s perspective. For small businesses, this skill is invaluable in creating products and services that genuinely resonate with their target audience. In today’s world, where authenticity and connection reign supreme, empathy is the linchpin to success.

Empathy and Design Thinking at Storyfolk

At Storyfolk, we hold the firm belief that brand values are as integral as our personal values. In our design process, empathy serves as a guiding principle. Collaborating with our clients to shape their brand values is not just a step; it’s a foundational aspect of our creative journey. It provides a core framework that enables brands to align with a purpose, stand for something meaningful, and evolve alongside their audience.

We are immensely grateful to The Gordon Institute for their generous sponsorship, making this workshop possible. The Gordon Institute, Victoria’s largest standalone TAFE institution, has empowered individuals with practical skills for over 125 years, including our co-founders, Sarah Gross and Cass Mackenzie. Sarah and Cass crossed paths while studying Graphic Design at The Gordon. Though not in the same class, they were introduced by Tibor Novak, an illustrious illustration teacher at The Gordon. Their shared passion for creativity, experimentation, and design laid the foundation for what Storyfolk has become today. Both Sarah and Cass are fervent supporters of Graphic Design at The Gordon and are dedicated to nurturing the next generation of talented creatives. The workshop’s illustrations were graciously contributed by Tibor Novak, whose dedication to creativity continues to inspire students and professionals alike.


Storyfolk is a Melbourne-based design and branding studio. Storyfolk blurs the line between strategic thinking and thoughtful design to create memorable moments between brands and their audience. Storyfolk are a nimble agency who pride themselves on building exceptional relationships with their clients to produce exceptional work. Reach out to us here.


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