counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'Design'

4 April 2013

Jan-Christoph Zoels speaker at three Salone del Mobile events

jan-christoph

Jan-Christoph Zoels, one of Experientia’s founding partners and our creative director, is going to be a lot in Milan next week.

Aside from his participation on Monday 8 April at the IxDA organized “The Long View of Interaction Design,” he will also speak on Thursday and Saturday.

On Thursday 11 April he will be one of the invited speakers at “The Future of Design,” an evening conference (7 to 10 pm) organized by frog design at their Milan studios.

The theme of the event is “Designing the Future, The future of Design”: “With technology embedded where we work, live, and play, the pace of innovation is increasing. Connected products and services create a new complexity for companies and consumers alike. Making sense of it by designing the human experience has never been more important and strategically relevant than today, but how can we design the future in a meaningful way?

The other speakers are Mark Rolston (Chief Creative Officer, frog), Paolo Ciuccarelli (Associate Professor, Communication Design, Politecnico di Milano), and Tjeerd Hoek (Vice President Creative, frog Europe).

On Saturday 13 April (3 to 4 pm) he is one of the panelists at the UNStudio Platform Dialogues at at Emporio Building, Opificio Courtyard, Via Tortona 31, Milan. Experientia and UNStudio, the famous Dutch architectural design studio led by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, have previously collaborated on the design of sustainable buildings, environments and behavioral change.

The theme of the Saturday talk is the “Interface“: Whether it is as a portal to the World Wide Web or active nano-technologies, the communication between users and materials is no longer only one-way. The surfaces and objects through which we communicate and design provide new tactile and virtual feedbacks. This Dialogue – which will also involve Markus Benz (CEO Walter Knoll) and Birgit Lohmann (Associate Editor-in-chief Designboom) will explore the current and future possibilities of Interfaces with each other and through materiality.

The other UNStudio Platform Dialogues are also worth checking out:

DESIGNING (FOR) CO-CREATING
TUESDAY, 9 APRIL – 11.00 – 12.00
Panelists:
Ben van Berkel – Co-Founder/ Principal Architect UNStudio
Jurgen Bey – Director/ designer Studio Makkink & Bey and director PROOFFLab
Leo Schouten – Founder / director PROOFF

MATERIAL ATTAINABILITY
FRIDAY, 12 APRIL – 15.00 – 16.00
Panelists:
Gabi Böhm – Senior Architect/Project Manager, Premier Composite Technologies
Micol Costi – Director of Materials Research Material Connexion Italia
Giammichele Melis – Associate Director Buro Happold
James O’Callaghan – Director Eckersley O’Callaghan Structural + Facade Engineers
Federica Sem – Managing Director Permasteelisa Interiors

12 March 2013

Book: Instruments de Design Management [French]

instruments

For French readers:

Instruments de design management – Théories et cas pratiques
Cabirio Cautela, Francesco Zurlo, Kamel Ben Youssef, Stéphane Magne
Préface : Gilles Rougon
Editeur : De Boeck
2012

Comment se développe un processus d’innovation guidé par le design (design driven) ? Existe-t-il des règles et des outils de design en mesure de booster l’innovation ? Comment se situe le design management par rapport aux disciplines qui traitent de l’innovation et de ses processus : le project management, le design stratégique, le métaprojet ?

Cet ouvrage veut répondre à toutes ces questions en cernant les frontières et les attributions du design management, dans une optique de gouvernance du processus d’innovation, et en définissant une variété de configurations de projets.

Le grand nombre d’instruments pratiques proposés – ainsi que la méthode RACE (Recherche, Analyse, Conceptualisation, Exécution) permettant leur classification – fournit un guide utile pour comprendre et tracer des parcours d’innovation fondés sur les méthodologies et les principes du design thinking. La structuration de l’ouvrage en chapitres enrichis de synthèses, questions, activités de réflexion et cas réels favorise l’apprentissage des principaux concepts. De plus, un site web propose des corrigés d’exercices pour l’auto-apprentissage de l’étudiant, ainsi que des ressources pédagogiques complémentaires permettant à l’enseignant d’animer des séances de cours et de travaux dirigés.

L’ouvrage s’adresse aux étudiants des cours de design et design stratégique des Écoles d’Architecture, de Design, ou des Beaux-Arts, ainsi qu’aux étudiants des cours de management de l’innovation à l’Université, en Écoles de Commerce et dans les Instituts d’Administration des Entreprises. Il est aussi destiné aux professionnels et aux managers souhaitant mieux appréhender les processus d’innovation guidés par le design.

29 January 2013

New MA at UC London combining anthropology, materials and design

cmd-logo

“The material world is a world of social potential. Social scientists should be better equipped to engage with materials and objects through ethnographic, critical, analytical, presentational and collaborative skills. Designers, artists, engineers, architects and curators should be better equipped to work with people using similar skills.

The MA in Culture, Materials and Design is for people who are interested in developing their people-skills, and ways of thinking about culture and society, to work alongside, and with, designers, engineers, heritage professionals, environmentalists, materials scientists, and others with a pragmatic interest in materials and design.

The course is about anthropological analytical skills and ethnographic methods, with some presentational and studio group-work skills. We mainly apply these skills to exploring the cultural and social implications of materials and design. We do social science in ways which have an affinity with design and related fields.”

15 January 2013

Experientia® Prisma kitchen in Interni Annual Cucina 2012

interni

The Interni Annual Cucina 2012 is out, and this year’s monograph features Experientia’s Prisma design for Toncelli Kitchens. The Prisma was the 2012 flagship kitchen in Toncelli’s presentation at Eurocucina 2012 – the International Kitchen Furniture Trade Show, held in Milan.

Experientia® designed Prisma, Toncelli’s first entry-level kitchen, to revitalise the company image and communicate a new focus on Asian design and markets, and the incorporation of modern (and futuristic) technology into traditional kitchen environments. Its eye-catching combination of minimalist design and latest technologies is one of the reasons it is featured in the Interni Cucina Annual 2012.

Here’s a little of what Interni had to say about Prisma:

“The innovative Prisma kitchen, the result of the Toncelli Experientia collaboration, stands out for its essential, dynamic and high-impact design, combined with exclusive technologies. The worktop in glass of the island is equipped with an interactive touchscreen connected to the internet, and the rotating food stand can be outfitted with a tablet. The prismatic effect of the surfaces of the cabinets conveys a sense of movement, enhanced by the lighting fixtures that illuminate the furnishings from below.”

Interni is an Italian magazine (with an accompanying English translation) that selects and documents the most significant new developments, trends, and projects in Italian and international design. The Interni Annual monographs are published three times a year, with editions dedicated to the kitchen, bathroom and contract sectors, and showcase the best and most interesting designs in the sector.

For more about the Prisma kitchen, see our project description or the Experientia-designed Toncelli Eurocucina 2012 minisite.

The Interni Annual Cucina 2012 is on sale now at selected news vendors.

9 January 2013

Focus groups are dangerous and kill innovation

1671033-poster-1280-focus-groups-kill-innovation

Gianfranco Zaccai is co-founder and president of the global design and innovation consultancy Continuum. And he doesn’t like focus groups very much (and neither do we):

Why Focus Groups Kill Innovation, From The Designer Behind Swiffer
18 October 2012
The Aeron chair, the Swiffer, and the Reebok Pump – none of these breakthrough products would have gotten high marks from a focus group. Here, Continuum’s Gianfranco Zaccai lists four steps to take before introducing a design to the masses.

Focus Groups Are Dangerous. Know When To Use Them
9 January 2013
Focus groups won’t give rise to innovative ideas, maintains Continuum’s Gianfranco Zaccai. But they can help refine the core concept when used at the right moment in the design process. Here’s how to do it.

3 December 2012

In safe hands

clarebrass

Clare Brass is the team leader of Sustain at the Royal College of Art in London, where she presides over a radical initiative to make sustainability a core issue for all students, whether they are studying architecture, textiles, visual communications or industrial design.

Rather than training designers to make yet more beautiful objects, Brass’s ambition is to show them how to tackle some of the largest problems we face on the planet: waste, depleted natural resources and overconsumption.

The Financial Times profiles her and her initiative.

16 November 2012

The Design for Usability book

designforusability

The Design for Usability project, that researched how best to contribute to the development of usable products, published a book that provides the product development community with a comprehensive and coherent overview of the results of the project, in such a way that they can be applied in practice.

The book outlines the studies conducted in the project, and indicates how the individual research projects are related and which of them can be applied in a coherent mode.

The 150-page booklet provides links to the DfU website, where the reader can find a manual on how to execute the method or tool presented in the booklet, as well as templates that can be used.

Design for Usability’ was started by the three Dutch technical universities in 2007. About 15 people collaborate in this project, of which 5 PhD projects can be seen as the main component. This IOP IPCR project has been partially subsidized by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The companies Océ, Philips, T-Xchange, Indes and Unilever are still closely involved in the project, by providing information and cases from their daily practice and serving as a sounding board for the project members.

(via InfoDesign)

15 November 2012

The Talking Circles conference format

ddei

The Designing Design Education for India (DDEI) Conference, which will take place in March 2013 in Pune, India, has an unusual, but engaging format:

“This will be an interactive conference. Unlike other conferences where the presenters speak from one side and the attendees are mere spectators or at the most the discussion is confined to formal Q&A sessions, this conference expects the conferees to play the role of a Moderator or a Synthesizer and interact freely in the talking circles. [...]

At the end of each day of the first two days, talking circle for each of the stream is planned. The aim is to encourage an open and inclusive format for discussion and the sharing of ideas. Talking circles are meetings of minds, directed at points of discussion, difference, or difficulty. At this conference the talking circle is intended as an opportunity to interact around the key streams of the conference vis-à-vis the themes. The outcomes of the talking circles will be discussed on the third and final day of the conference.

The Talking Circle for each stream will meet for a 1-hour session. A facilitator will be designated for each of the talking circle on each day from amongst the moderators. The facilitator will record the points of convergence and divergence and will summarize them. The discussion in the talking circle will be based on three main questions viz. What is our common ground? | What key ideas are emerging? | What is to be done?

Apparently the concept is not entirely new. It was already used at UC Berkeley in 2005, where they described Talking Circles as follows:

“Talking circles are meetings of minds, often around points of difference or difficulty. They are common in indigenous cultures. The inherent tension of the meeting is balanced by protocols of listening and respect for varied viewpoints. From this, rather than criticism and confrontation, productive possibilities may emerge.”

Also the 2011 Climate Change conference in Rio used it. Yet this participatory, co-creative format doesn’t seem to be very common.

The DDEI conference is hosted by India Design Council which is an autonomous body of Government of India established under the aegis of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

At the conference design educators, design thinkers, design practitioners share their ideas, experiences and vision about various future transformations occurring in education in the light of India’s traditional and current understanding of design education. The aim is to inspire the future of design education in India and determine the nature and future of the design education framework in India for the period 2014–2019.

17 October 2012

UX articles and dissertations from Denmark

md-top-banner-uk

Mind Design, the Design Research Webzine of the Danish Centre for Design Research, contains a wealth of information, all available in English.

Here are some highlights:

Article
Companies: Design Research Works in Practice
Design researchers are developing new, applicable knowledge together with organisations in the private and public sector. That was the clear conclusion at the mini-conference on the impact of design research that the Danish Centre for Design Research held at The Black Diamond in Copenhagen on 17 September 2012. Here, Rambøll, Bang & Olufsen and other companies shared case stories about how collaboration with researchers is creating value for their organisations.

Article
Using Experience Design to Reach a Broader Audience for Classical Music
How can we use new, digital technologies to make classical music more appealing and accessible – especially for a younger audience? A group of symphony orchestras and educational institutions in Denmark and Sweden have set out to address that question in a large-scale research collaboration that has received funding from the EU’s interregional development fund.

Dissertation
Inviting the Materials Into Co-Design Processes
Materials are important actors in co-design processes. Therefore they should be invited in and assigned roles when co-designers organise projects, workshops or events, for example in the field of service design. That is one of the key conclusions in a PhD dissertation on the role of materials in co-design which Mette Agger Eriksen defended at Malmö University on 13 June 2012.
> Download dissertation (pdf)

Dissertation
Realising the Full Potential of Drawing
Drawing is a language in its own right that holds a large potential for idea development, says Anette Højlund, who defended her PhD dissertation on drawing and creation on 13 April 2012. In the dissertation she examines what she calls the dialogue between the drawing and the person drawing. In this conversation with Mind Design she concludes that the potential of drawing could be utilised far better, for example in visualising issues that reach across disciplinary boundaries.
> Download dissertation summary (pdf)

Dissertation
Hierarchies and Humour in the Design Process
Humour plays an important role in the design process, argues Mette Volf, who recently defended her PhD dissertation Når nogen ler, er der noget på spil (When someone laughs there is something at stake). In her dissertation she explores the design process as social construct. Humour is used, for example, to turn the formal hierarchies on their head.

Dissertation
PhD Dissertation Challenges Traditional Interaction Design
Interaction design can easily incorporate both a body element and an empathy element. This was demonstrated by Maiken Hillerup Fogtmann, who as part of her PhD project developed interactive exercise equipment for team handball players and computer-based play equipment for children. She defended her dissertation, Designing with the Body in Mind, on 23 January 2012 at the Aarhus School of Architecture.
> Download dissertation summary (pdf)

Article
Making Active and Innovative Use of Your Customer Base
Companies are keen to get in touch with their customers and users in order to gain new ideas for products and business potentials. A project headed by the Danish Technological Institute focuses on user types that are potentially valuable for business. The conclusion is that the key lies in getting involved, identifying the company’s needs and involving the right users at the right time in the strategic processes.

Article
Design as Innovation Facilitator
Design-driven innovation in companies can result in both actual product development and the development of processes and business strategies. That was one of the points made at the workshop Design Driven Innovation – Organizing for Growth held at the Kolding School of Design in December 2011. Furthermore, the role of the position of design in relation to the individual company or organisation was emphasised.

16 October 2012

User experience in the age of sustainability

 

Designers, as makers of products and services, are key stewards of our planet because the products and services we design influence the ways in which people live, argues Kem Kramer in an article for Johnny Holland.

“What we design, how we design, the materials with which we design and for what purposes we design, set the pace for emerging cultural behaviours. We owe it to ourselves as stewards of our world, and as designers from all spectrum to consider the impact of each design that we create on the overall impact of not only our collective culture and cultural practices but also on the environment at large. Accordingly, for the fields of Design and User Experience to remain progressively relevant, we must begin to form a closer affinity to the Sustainability movement.”

Kramer is a UX practitioner at Research in Motion.

23 September 2012

SAP’s new Mobility Design Center uses user-centered design approach

9-19-2012-7-22-30-AM

A few days ago SAP announced the opening of the new SAP Mobility Design Center to help customers meet the growing need for individualized mobile solutions.

Headquartered on the company’s campus in Palo Alto, Calif., the center is focused on enabling companies to keep up with the consumerization of IT trend by conceptualizing, designing and building mobile solutions to better connect with employees and consumers.

To achieve consumer-grade experiences, customers collaborate with a team of user experience (UX) designers, architects and developers. The team employs design thinking principles and validates mobile solutions with end users continually throughout the build process.

The SAP Mobility Design Center is a one-stop shop for designing, developing and validating customer-specific mobile enterprise solutions that are intuitive for users and leverage features such as touch, camera, GPS and other device functionality across a variety of device platforms.

11 September 2012

From design fiction to experiential futures

bearhead_songofthemachine

In honor of its Ten-year Anniversary, the Association of Professional Futurists (yes, they exist!) launched its first publication, The Future of Futures.

Edited by Andrew Curry, the book (also available as ebook) is orrganized in sections of Past, Present, and Future, and contains essays and reviews by Tom Abeles, Marcus Barber, Peter Bishop, Christian Crews, Cindy Frewen, Tanja Hichert, Andy Hines, Oliver Markley, Jim Mathews, Riel Miller, Noah Raford, Wendy Schultz, Richard Slaughter, and Verne Wheelwright.

From Design Fiction to Experiential Futures is one of the book’s chapters, written by Noah Raford, and freely available on his website. It explores the role design fiction, experiential futures and visual media in foresight work, and includes several examples of good design fiction.

6 September 2012

Marko Ahtisaari, “Nokia’s visionary,” wants to “out-design Apple”

marko-660x440

Marko Athisaari, Nokia’s head of design, is pushing a general overall vision where advanced function is blended into unforgettable form¿post-industrial form. The dream, if not the exact language, is very familiar. Nokia is marketing its phone directly into the teeth of Apple’s strength: Design.

He talks a great game, and fondles an impressive product. But certainly Ahtisaari knows that by focusing on design, he is taking on the lofty emperors of design at Apple. And it can’t be lost on him that just as Apple is the world’s wealthiest company, Nokia is struggling for its life. But if Ahtisaari is intimidated, he’s not showing it. Asked about Apple, he says, “The best way you can show respect for competition is to do something meaningfully better.” And if all else fails, there’s always that hole in the ice.

Feature on Wired

1 August 2012

Don Norman: John Maeda and I failed to connect

phpThumb_generated_thumbnail

As part of its Power of 10 lecture series, PARC Forum invited John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design, and Don Norman, Co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, last week for a dialogue on design and innovation.

The video is now online.

Here is what Don Norman had to write about it:

“It was a weird discussion. Although John and I have known each other for some time and started out in similar ways (he is a course 6 graduate of MIT — Electrical Engineering). So am I (my specialty was circuit design.) Both of us now consider ourselves to be designers. Moreover, I am a fan of his work. But it was difficult to engage.

I wanted to talk about complex design: interaction design, design planning, etc. He wanted to talk about the beauty of fonts, of knives, and even of the office chair. I tried to say these were simple products that barely needed any understanding of human behavior and cognition — I want to design the complex. He didn’t understand my point. In fact, when I specifically asked him how to design a networking connection scheme that would work for everyday people his answer was a long ramble that never even started to address the issue. Later, he admitted he had forgotten the question (which to me is evidence he either failed to understand it or didn’t care about it – I think the latter).

I agreed that form was not my focus. I guess he agreed that interaction was not his.

So we failed to connect. But many seemed to find the discussion of interest. Decide for yourself.”

9 July 2012

Design alone can’t save UK companies

Woudhuysen

Making products attractive and user-friendly is a smart idea, but it is no substitute for R&D and investment, argues James Woudhuysen, a professor of forecasting and innovation at De Montfort University, on Spiked, a British Internet magazine focusing on politics, culture and society from a humanist and libertarian viewpoint.

“Exaggerating design’s scope for impact is now a global pastime. For example, the New York City design firm Reboot seriously proposes that human rights can be designed, because ‘at our local health clinic, at our unemployment office or at our child’s school… [there] are the moments when human rights are realised in practical ways’. This underlines how the boosting of design’s economic contribution is part of a wider doctrine of what Virginia Tech professor Paul Knox rightly terms ‘hubristic design determinism’. Whereas Karl Marx argued that social being determines consciousness, design boosters contend that design plays a determining role in both economic growth and everyday behaviour. Arguably, they take a leaf from architecture here; but whatever the case, even leading economic commentators are now so bereft of a genuine strategy for growth that they find themselves pronouncing that ‘Design adds value to the product – in fact design adds most of the value to the product’.

This conception of design is completely over the top. If they want to be ambitious, and they should, designers should recognise that real economic growth will come from the development of whole new industrial and service sectors, capable of creating hundreds of thousands of properly paid jobs. Design cannot create those industries – they will come out of the much more elemental processes of R&D, the kind of R&D that led to the nuclear, plastics and pharmaceuticals sectors. And whether this R&D happens is, again, not a technical issue, but to do with the priorities and vision of society. Right now, the West prefers to talk up the merits of relatively cheap design than to do the dearer, riskier business of R&D.”

Read article

26 June 2012

Book: Design and Anthropology

 

Design and Anthropology
Edited by Wendy Gunn, University of Southern Denmark and Jared Donovan, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Ashgate, 2012
Hardcover and ebook

Design and Anthropology challenges conventional thinking regarding the nature of design and creativity, in a way that acknowledges the improvisatory skills and perceptual acuity of people. Combining theoretical investigations and documentation of practice based experiments, it addresses methodological questions concerning the re-conceptualisation of the relation between design and use from both theoretical and practice-based positions.

Concerned with what it means to draw ‘users’ into processes of designing and producing this book emphasises the creativity of design and the emergence of objects in social situations and collaborative endeavours.

Organised around the themes of perception and the user-producer, skilled practices of designing and using, and the relation between people and things, the book contains the latest work of researchers from academia and industry, to enhance our understanding of ethnographic practice and develop a research agenda for the emergent field of design anthropology.

Drawing together work from anthropologists, philosophers, designers, engineers, scholars of innovation and theatre practitioners, Design and Anthropology will appeal to anthropologists and to those working in the fields of design and innovation, and the philosophy of technology and engineering.

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Design anthropology: an introduction, Wendy Gunn and Jared Donovan
  • Part I Using and Producing:
    • Introduction: the perception of the user-producer, Tim Ingold
    • The patient as skilled practitioner, Kyle Kilbourn
    • Hearing poorly with skill, Dennis Day
    • Gliding effortlessly through life? Surfaces and friction, Griet Scheldeman
    • An institutional view of user improvisation and design, Max Rolfstam and Jacob Buur
  • Part II Designing and Using:
    • Introduction: defining moments, Johan Redström
    • The time it takes to make: design and use in architecture and archaeology, Lesley McFadyen
    • Moving from objects to possibilities, Jared Donovan and Wendy Gunn
    • Emergence of user identity in social interaction, Henry Larsen and Claus Have
    • The role of supply chains in product design, Benedicte Brøgger
  • Part III People and Things:
    • Introduction: humanity in design, Peter-Paul Verbeek
    • Anthropological fieldwork and designing potentials, Mette Kjærsgaard and Ton Otto
    • Designing behaviour, Nynke Tromp and Paul Hekkert
    • Emergent artefacts of ethnography and processual engagements of design, Jamie Wallace
    • Theories and figures of technical mediation, Steven Dorrestijn
  • Epilogue: Utopian things, Pelle Ehn
  • Index
  • 10 June 2012

    Manifesto for design upholding human talents and innovation

    bigpotatoes

    This morning I got an invite in the mail to attend a London design symposium at Brunel University next week (16 June) that will debate the core themes of a new design manifesto, strangely called “Big Potatoes”

    Although I cannot attend the debates at such short notice, the manifesto itself and the themes of the debate are intriguing enough to merit this blog post.

    The manifesto is written by six authors – Nico Macdonald, Alan Patrick, Martyn Perks, Mitchell Sava, James Woudhuysen and Norman Lewis. Unfortunately it is not so clear what the manifesto actually says – it will be officially presented at the London Symposium – but you get some background by looking at the fourteen principles who are explored in depth on the Big Potatoes website:

    01: Think big
    02: The post-war legacy
    03: Principles not models
    04: For useless research
    05: Hard work
    06: Expect failures
    07: Chance and surprise
    08: Take risks
    09: Leadership
    10: Whose responsibility?
    11: Trust the people
    12: Think/Act Global
    13: We know no limits
    14: For humanity

    The debate on 16 June is quite provocative as well:

    DEBATE#1: UPHOLDING HUMANISM – OR CENTERING ON USERS?
    Design is intimately bound up with understanding people. Every designer extols the virtues of getting to know customers, users, people. However, can being too close to your subject stifle creativity? Today this question has added relevance and is at the heart of our manifesto. As at no other time, the collective and individual will of human beings is felt to be little rival to the capricious actions of Fate.

    The human ability to take a conscious risk, in the pursuit of innovation, used to be the fundamental premise of design. But now designers join with other cynics in agreeing that people are for the most part driven by nature, neurology, ostentation and irrationality. That can only degrade the processes and the products of design.

    The old discussion was about people as market segments with latent needs – people who were held to be in a ‘relationship’ with product or service providers. More and more, however, the rhetoric today consists of how design can work to minimise demand, redirect consumption, and even improve patterns of human behaviour.

    Is it the role of design to understand and change people’s behaviour, or is design about producing ideas that allow people to make their own minds up on how they choose to use it? Likewise, should design strive to exceed expectations by going beyond people’s immediate needs, or must it be mindful of how people might use stuff, encouraging greater responsibility and awareness to ourselves and even the planet? And even where people do adapt existing things to better suit their needs – should we celebrate such amateurism, or instead prefer the expertise designers can bring, expertise that can raise people’s horizons further still?

    DEBATE#2: DOES DESIGN DRIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH?
    What is design’s contribution to economic growth? This question has for a long time been intimately bound up with discussions about design’s purpose — even more so since New Labour sought to trumpet the contribution made by the so-called ‘creative industries’ to UK plc. Because of the credit crunch, the precise effects that design has on wealth creation have become more pertinent than ever. Both the state and many design industry professionals feel that design needs to justify its contribution.

    Economic growth is a key issue for our manifesto, not least because designers have been poor at theorising their relationship with innovation. In our view, design could do more to promote and implement scientific and technological advance. At the moment design often fails to grasp the opportunity presented by innovation – by being too focused on surface, incremental improvements. That can mean it ends up being marginalised as a result.

    The problem with design and growth runs much deeper than rates of remuneration, royalties, intellectual property and all the rest. It is impossible to put a value on design without clarifying and improving the role designers play with regard to innovation. Can designers, by themselves, stimulate economic growth by creating new demand through the design of new products and services? Or are such products and services best realised when designers link up closely with scientific and technological innovation? Conversely, is design’s real role less about creating new growth per se, and more about persuading people to consume more through marketing and branding existing products and services?

    So you get the gist: this event has a very strong political and pro-growth agenda, while some of the debate descriptions are laced with value judgments (“capricious actions of Fate”, “designers join with other cynics”, “degrade the process and products of design”, “amateurism”, etc.)

    A little searching online confirms this first impression, but also adds complexity to it all:

    Powerbase, the online wiki-style “guide to networks of power, lobbying, public relations and the communications activities of governments and other interests”, says that the manifesto is associated with the “libertarian anti-environmental LM network” (with LM standing for “Living Marxism”), which itself is an offspring of the RCP (the UK’s Revolutionary Communist Party, disbanded in 1996).

    Steven Rose has been exploring the LM Network and writes briefly about it on Spinwatch, “an independent non-profit making UK organisation which monitors the role of public relations and spin in contemporary society”:

    “Spinwatch has monitored the groups that have flowed from the RCP, groups we collectively term the ‘LM network’. Moving from an ultra-left position through to a libertarian pro-corporate line of argument, they have been, as Rose notes, strong defenders of what they call ‘scientific progress’, meaning that they have been strongly in favour of GM technology and other scientific advances favoured by transnational corporations. However, they have also taken a strong line against scientific progress in the area of risk. So they are opposed to the scientific consensus on climate change, on harms caused by tobacco and by the food and advertising industries.

    The common denominator there is that this kind of scientific progress is against the interests of key corporate sectors. Spinwatch has also recently reported on how their traditional ‘anti-Imperialist’ position on colonial struggles has degenerated into a position that attacks those offering solidarity to the Palestinian people. Overall, what we see from the very earliest days of the RCT to the antics of the various tentacles of the LM network now, is consistent in the sense that it involves attacking the left and progressive movements. However, the increasingly close relationship between the LM network and corporate lobby groups and neoliberal and neoconservative think tanks, suggests that it might be more accurate to see them not as libertarian iconoclasts, but simply as another faction of the British conservative movement.”

    I am not convinced that the above politicising of the design debate is the best way forward. It just makes our discipline another battleground of a wider culture clash, whereas I see design more as a problem solving tool. I also disagree with their deep faith in the power of economic growth, but leave it to brighter minds – like John Thackara and others – to develop this criticism.

    UPDATE: John commented here and here.

    10 June 2012

    Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

    dark_matter

    Dark Matter and Trojan Horses – A Strategic Design Vocabulary” is a short e-book by designer and urbanist Dan Hill in which he argues that in an age of wicked problems, conventional solutions are failing, and a new culture of decision-making is called for.

    “Strategic design is about applying the principles of traditional design to “big picture” systemic challenges such as healthcare, education and climate change. It redefines how problems are approached and aims to deliver more resilient solutions.

    In this short book, Dan Hill outlines a new vocabulary of design, one that needs to be smuggled into the upper echelons of power. He asserts that, increasingly, effective design means engaging with the messy politics – the “dark matter” – taking place above the designer’s head. And that may mean redesigning the organisation that hires you.”

    The book is one of a series published by Strelka Press, a Russia based publishing house long critical essays on architecture, design and urbanism, published initially as digital downloads, Kindle Singles or ebooks.

    One of the authors, Alexandra Lange, interviewed the editor of the press Justin McGuirk, who is also design critic for the Guardian. You can read the interview on Design Observer.

    24 May 2012

    “Beautiful things that matter” – Experientia’s new website for granstudio

    granstudio

    Site works also as a full-screen swipeable tablet web app

    Today granstudio, the international design studio based in Turin, launches its new website, created by Experientia®.

    Founded by internationally-renowned designer Lowie Vermeersch, granstudio is a creative, multidisciplinary consultancy that combines automotive design expertise with a strategic vision on performance, beauty and functionality.

    The site features granstudio’s first concept car and will be constantly refreshed with new projects including Interieur, the acclaimed design fair and event in Belgium that Vermeersch will be curating later this year.

    Experientia® created the granstudio site to be highly usable and attractive on both computers and tablets, using the gesture of swiping from screen to screen as a key navigation element. The HTML5 site can also run as a web app on tablets. Simply by creating a home screen shortcut to the site, the shortcut icon opens the website in full screen mode, offering the feel of a native app without having to download it through an app store.

    The granstudio team create “beautiful things that matter”, and Experientia’s very visual website is the ideal showcase for their projects, inspirations and design talent.

    Experientia® and granstudio are currently exploring further collaborations on mobility interface, interaction and service design.

    > A personal note: Lowie and his team are good friends and we are really excited about this new studio in Torino. All of us at Experientia wish the team the very best with this exciting venture.

    23 May 2012

    Design prototypes as boundary objects in innovation processes

     

    Holger Rhinow, Eva Köppen, and Christoph Meinel: Design Prototypes as Boundary Objects in Innovation Processes. Conference Paper in the Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Design Research Society (DRS 2012), Bangkok, Thailand, July 2012

    Abstract:

    In our paper we focus on how design prototypes can foster communications in organizations that deal with the development of innovations. We distinguish the impact of prototypes between two different organizational levels; we first conduct the impact of prototypes at the level of organizational design teams that develop ideas and concepts for solutions. We then focus on the impact of prototypes on the level of organizational teams and departments that have not been part of the initial design phase but are responsible for further developments in the innovation process, e.g. production, financing, and marketing.

    Previous research has indicated that prototypes have a significant influence on both organizational levels. Prototypes, in the best cases, can become so-called boundary objects between different domains and stakeholders and may deliver positive effects within the innovation process. However, the successful management of stakeholders in this context remains highly challenging. In this paper we want to address these difficulties as well as the current state of research in this field. We propose that a prototype does not only stand for an important design technique but should moreover be regarded as a management tool that can be integrated into a structured dialogue between stakeholders. We provide first insights on what a structured dialogue, based on prototypes, can mean and what it thereby should imply. We will synthesize prior research findings and begin to develop a concept on how to utilize prototypes as boundary objects from a management perspective.