Design for users: The global studio

User-centred design (UCD) has deployed methods such as user surveys and interviews, user focus groups, personas, user scenarios and participatory design to identify users’ needs and desires. Although UCD has become a dominant design innovation strategy, we argue that design major students are insufficiently versed in their user constructions. To illustrate this, we will examine students’ take-up of UCD within an international cross-cultural collaborative project undertaken within the Global Studio which involved 7 universities located in Austria, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. From the data analysis, we have concluded that most of the students failed to derive genuine insights from a ‘real’ user and developed only superficial insights about their users. We argue that this was mainly due to a failure to involve the ‘real’ users from the start of the project, which meant that users were only represented as fictional characters in later design development stages.