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Posts in category 'Design'

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.

22 April 2012

How user research informed IKEA’s Uppleva TV-furniture unit

uppleva_ppf

IKEA’s new Uppleva Smart TV-furniture unit was extensively shown at the Milan Design Week (which ends today), and on Core77 I wrote more about the interface design, but here some more about the user research that went into the product.

The user research consisted of two parts: in-home visits and an online survey. The IKEA press kit unfortunately provides very little information on the in-home visits, which is unfortunate, particularly since the results of the online survey are rather straightforward. I therefore hope to update this post later on with more details.

In-home visits
IKEA visits people in their houses and apartments all over the world. The visits were combined with interviews, and carried out in homes of different sizes, income groups, neighbourhoods, and people in a wide range of living situations and living conditions. Marcel Godfroy, who is the Uppleva project lead, writes:

“Fifty percent of IKEA customers wish to renew their living room. We have been visiting people’s homes around the world, and we understood that many people think it is difficult to find functional and beautiful solutions, which hide the clutter and integrate all media devices with the rest of their living room furniture. There simply has been a wish for something else – a complete solution for a new living room experience.”

Online survey
To find out more about how people experience their TV and sound furnishing solutions, IKEA combined the home visits with an online survey conducted in Sweden, Poland, Italy, France and Germany. These are the findings:

  • In all countries, the living room is the most common room to watch TV in. 9 out of 10 German and French consumers watch TV in their living room and almost as many Swedish and Polish. However, a bit fewer Ital­ians, 7 out of 10. (On the other hand, Italian consumers watch TV in the kitchen or the bedroom to a larger extent than consumers in the other four countries).
  • 3 out of 5 Swedish customers have a specific piece of furniture for the TV. 2 out of 5 in Poland, Germany and France, and a third of the Italians have a specific piece of TV furniture.
  • 3 out of 4 people would like less visible cables in their living room. These visible cables and cords ­ or rather the lack of opportunity to hide them ­are also the main reason why people feel dissatisfied with the media furniture today.
  • To Swedish and Polish consumers the media furniture not being stylish is another main reason for dissatisfaction.
  • A majority of the consumers in all five countries would like fewer visible cables.
  • 50% would like to see less of their technical gadgets.
  • 60% OF ALL homes have three remote controls or more. 1­2 out of 10 have only one re­mote control.

Top five reasons for dissatisfaction with living room TV furniture today:

  • Lack of opportunity to hide cords and cables.
  • Media furniture is not stylish enough.
  • Inflexibility.
  • Visible technical gadgets.
  • TV and furniture mis-match.

The online survey by market research institute YouGov comprised 5271 online interviews among a representative sample of the populations in Sweden, Poland, Italy, France and Germany as regards sex, age and region (men and women aged 18-­69 years). The survey was carried out 29th February to 5th March 2012.

It is quite remarkable how fast IKEA went from the online survey to the presentation of a fully functioning product at the Milan Design Week.

18 April 2012

Applying behavioral economics and cognitive psychology to the design process

behaviorchange

Artefact is, like Experientia, a UX design consultancy that is strongly inspired by cognitive and behavioral modeling, and uses all kinds of inputs from cognitive and social science to enrich their design work:

“At Artefact, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the fact that regardless of the type of design challenge we work on, all of the decisions we make on a given project have the potential to influence human behavior – whether we intended them to or not.

As we outlined in our 21st Century Design paper, the toolkit of the modern designer is rapidly expanding. Design practice is maturing, and what was once a focus on aesthetics and usability is broadening to incorporate interdisciplinary knowledge from a variety of fields like4 behavioral economics and cognitive psychology. These disciplines shed light on the factors that impact human decision-making and motivate our behaviors.

Knowledge from these fields can help us better understand why people behave the way they do, help us design to reinforce or change that behavior, and help us make more informed predictions about how people will behave when faced with new decisions in the future.”

Artefact researcher Nikki Pfarr is now exploring the topic in more depth with a video that introduces some of the principles and tips coming from the fields of behavioral economics and human-centered design. We agree with her that these topics could allow us to better understand human behavior, and to design products and services that facilitate better decision-making.

Pfarr also wrote a short paper “Applying Behavioral Economics and Cognitive Psychology to the Design Process“ on the topic.

13 April 2012

Prisma kitchen at Eurocucina 2012

 

A high-tech kitchen and an instant classic, designed by Experientia®, for Toncelli kitchens

PRISMA01.jpgMinimalist design in a high-tech kitchen

Experientia® is taking part in the Salone del Mobile in Milan this year, with its brand new kitchen design, the Prisma, designed for Tuscan company Toncelli Kitchens.

Introduced by Toncelli as the “futuristic jewel” in its Eurocucina 2012 collection, the Prisma is a stylistic departure from Toncelli’s other kitchens, where the emphasis is on prestigious materials and traditional workmanship.

The Prisma is conceived as an entry-level luxury kitchen, which combines elegant prismatic shapes, gleaming surfaces, and minimalist styling with the latest in touch-screen technology.

Interactive workbench with internet connection and touch-screen technology by Samsung Electronics

While the Prisma also sports a stand for a personal tablet computer, the more high-tech element is the Samsung-driven touch screen table, integrated right into the black glass bench. Cooks will be able to use the internet connection to update chosen contents from a programmed menu. Designed for tech savvy home chefs, the Prisma kitchen picks up on the trend of tablet computers migrating to the kitchen, and then takes that idea to the next level.

PRISMA03.jpgThe prismatic compositions of the drawers and sink are illuminated from below, and give a dynamic, light feel to the kitchen

The minimalist design fits well with the high tech elements of the kitchen – red and white lacquered surfaces, anodized aluminium and black glass create a contemporary and dynamic feel. The prismatic composition, from the drawers in the island bench, to the sink which supports the bench top, gives the kitchen a feeling of weightlessness and light. The red, raised chopping board can actually slide along the island bench to any desired position, and provides an accent of colour in the otherwise black and white kitchen.

The minimalist feel is heightened by the use of easy-open, invisible handles on the drawers, cupboards and refrigerator. These were created by Experientia designers, working together with Toncelli’s engineers, and are so far exclusive to the Prisma.

PRISMA08.jpgThe red chopping board slides along the island, and has a stand for a tablet computer

The Prisma kitchen will be on display at Eurocucina 2012, as part of the Salone Milan, along with five other Toncelli kitchens. While a display of the Prisma will be visible to all the Salone visitors, guests must register on the Toncelli website for a guided tour of all the kitchens, tracing a linear time-line from the kitchens inspired by the past through to Prisma, a futuristic jewel, and, Toncelli hopes, an instant classic.

4 April 2012

Book: Cross-Cultural Technology Design

Screen Shot 2012-04-04 at 14.54.45

Cross-Cultural Technology Design
Creating Culture-Sensitive Technology for Local Users
by Huatong Sun
Hardback, 352 pages
Oxford University Press – Feb 2012
[Amazon link]

The demand and opportunity for cross-cultural technology design is rapidly rising due to globalization. However, all too often resulting technologies are technically usable, yet cannot be immediately put to meaningful use by users in their local, concrete contexts. Support for concrete user activities is frequently missing in design, as support for decontextualized actions is typically the focus of design. Sun examines this disconnect between action and meaning in cross-cultural technology design and presents an innovative framework, Culturally Localized User Experience (CLUE), to tackle this problem. Incorporating key concepts and methods from activity theory, British cultural studies, and rhetorical genre theory, the CLUE approach integrates action and meaning through a dialogical, cyclical design process to design technology that engages local users within culturally meaningful social practices.

Illustrated with five in-depth case studies of mobile text messaging use by college students and young professionals in American and Chinese contexts spanning years, Sun demonstrates that a technology created for culturally localized user experience mediates both instrumental practices and social meanings. She calls for a change in cross-cultural design practices from simply applying cultural conventions in design to engaging with social affordances based on a rich understanding of meaningful contextualized activity. Meanwhile, the vivid user stories at sites of technology-in-use show the power of “user localization” in connecting design and use, which Sun believes is essential for the success of an emerging technology like mobile messaging in an era of participatory culture.

This book will be of interest to researchers, students, practitioners, and anyone who wants to create culture-sensitive technology in this increasingly globalized world that requires advanced strategies and techniques for culturally localized, participatory design.

25 January 2012

Inclusive Design – a people centered strategy for innovation

customer_needs

The Norwegian Design Council has published a new resource site about inclusive design, to inform and communicate how this approach can be used as a strategy for innovation and development of more user-friendly products and services for the mainstream market.

Note also that the Council will be organising the European Business Workshops on Inclusive Design 2012 on 7-8 June in Oslo, Norway. The two-day sessions are conceived as inspiring, method-based workshops for business organisations and designers.

10 November 2011

Craftmanship

 
John Kolko reflects on design education and the importance of craftmanship in an article for Interactions Magazine.

“Based on my experience reviewing portfolios from recent business school graduates, I would argue that one of the most fundamental failings of “design thinking” education is the _lack of craftsmanship_. Students don’t appear to learn a honed, tacit, and careful “innate” sensibility for making, and simultaneously, they don’t appear to have developed an intimate understanding of the medium they are responsible for shaping. Instead, they are equipped with a toolkit of methods.”

Read article

(via InfoDesign)

28 October 2011

Design and the social sector: an annotated bibliography

Design and the social sector
This bibliography – now published on Change Observer – was initiatied in early 2011 as an independent study project by Courtney Drake, a graudate student at the Yale University School of Management.

It overlaps with William Drenttel’s work as a senior faculty fellow at Yale SOM, where Design and Social Innovation Case Studies are published.

Winterhouse Institute is adopting this bibliography as a larger project, and is publishing it as a collborative bibliography — working closely with the participants of the Winterhouse Education Symposia.

Executive Summary

Design thinking, user-centered design, service design, transformation design. These practices are not identical but their origin is similar: a definition of design that extends the profession beyond products. The rise of service economies in the developed world contributed to this movement toward design experiences, services, and interactions between users and products. The literature about design thinking and contemporary ideas reveals common elements and themes, many of which are borrowed from product design processes. They include abduction, empathy, interdisciplinary teams, co-creation, iteration through prototyping, preservation of complexity, and an evolving brief.

The implications of the rise of design thinking are twofold. First, corporate and organizational leaders concerned with innovative prowess are recognizing design thinking as a tool for developing new competitive advantages. Design thinking considers consumers’ latent desires and thus has the potential to change markets rather than simply making incremental improvements on the status quo. Second, many organizations have encountered significant barriers to practicing design thinking internally. In some ways, design thinking runs contra to the very structure of a corporation — it is intended to break paradigms, which may mean questioning power relationships, traditions, and incentive structure, and it may require a corporation to overhaul its business model and cannibalize its success. Additionally, many corporate leaders treat design thinking in a linear manner, a process which compromises the critical elements of conflict and circularity. In many instances, designers have failed to sufficiently translate and articulate their process, and businesses tend to favor past trends over the promise of new discovery.

With corporations struggling to use design thinking effectively, where does that leave the social sector? The organizational challenges facing corporations do not necessarily transfer to nonprofit organizations: more complex systems, higher stakes for failure, limited resources, and intangible evaluation metrics. Designers may be attracted to greater complexity and more wicked problems in the social sector, but they need to prepared to adapt their process and attitudes to create positive change. Perhaps the most significant adaptation designers need to make is in their role. Where product design connotes a sense of authorship, social design demands that designers be facilitators and educators of their processes. Further, they need to recognize they may not be well equipped to solve problems, but can identify problems and co-create with local leaders and beneficiaries.

The value of co-creation is a predominant theme in the literature surveyed here, particularly for Western designers contributing to foreign communities. Another critical factor is continual presence within projects, or better, a longer-term, sustained involvement. Authors speak of the importance of evaluation and metrics to gauge success, but find many projects lacking, perhaps for the same reasons the social sector as a whole struggles with impact measurement. Scaling, adaptation, and replication are buzzwords that pervade the social sector, but are particularly difficult for the product of a design process. Because the process is founded on a deep understanding of a particular user group’s needs, the solution for one community likely does not translate directly to another. However, authors suggest that it is the design process that is scalable and should be taught to local leaders. Failed projects support this assertion; benefits flow through the process of a project as well as the end-product, which further advocates for co-creation. Finally, the literature leave us with an unsettling question: is breakthrough innovation possible in the social sector? Most veterans in this field suggest the answer is no — they recommend that designers start small and introduce incremental change because the complexity of the systems and problems they face will demand it. However, this finding does not negate the potential value of the designer. The social sector needs designers to identify problems, imagine possibilities for a better future, and facilitate problem solving processes.

9 September 2011

Design ethnography field guide by Helsinki Design Lab

Fieldguide
An essential part of any design activity is understanding the context one is working in, particularly the social context. Eventually when proposals are made, these too must be measured by their likely impact on the people who will use and live with them.

The Helsinki Design Lab (an entity within Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund) has created a Design Ethnography Field Guide which is a booklet that participants of the HDL Studios use when venturing into the field to see the reality of a system as it is lived and experienced on the ground. It is intended to be the minimal starting point for this kind of activity. They supplement this document with group discussions to prepare participants and adjust the booklet as needed in different situations.

The download page also contains some other resources that may be a useful starting point.

And obviously more resources can be found on this very blog.

7 August 2011

Designing for a workforce that acts more sustainably

Gerd Waloszek
In a six part article series Gerd Waloszek of SAP User Experience [who is very inspired by Nathan Shedroff's latest book 'Design is the Problem'] approaches the topic of the sustainable behavior of a workforce from a designer’s point of view.

Part 1: Action fields for designers
In its efforts to make the behavior of its workforce more sustainable, SAP addresses the following focus topics (which are action fields for designers): (1) commute and travel, (2) energy, resource, and waste management (including paper management), and (3) organization of distributed teams (including social aspects).

Part 2: Action items for designers
Based on the three fields defined in the first article, Waloszek identifies possible action items for designers – particularly user interface (UI), user experience (UX), and interaction (IxD) designers: (1) the design of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions for remote collaboration, and (2) persuasive design or technology. He then steps back to identify the sustainability aspects, as defined by Nathan Shedroff (2009), in which designers can have an impact. Combining action fields with sustainability aspects, he collects four possible action items.

Part 3: Designing for remote collaboration and communication
Waloszek now discusses the first action item in more detail: ‘designing for remote collaboration and communication’.

Part 4: Using ambient media to support awareness of remote colleagues
In this article, Waloszek looks at the second of the four action items: “using ambient displays for supporting the awareness of remote colleagues” – which he interprets more broadly than just visual information. The article therefore refers to ambient media rather than ambient displays.
> Examples and proposals (in progress)

Part 5: Using persuasive design/technology
In this fifth article in the series, Waloszek looks at the “using persuasive design/technology” action item – which is the third of four action items he identified for designers. We will see that, on the one hand, this item competes with other approaches aiming at improving sustainability, and on the other hand, that it can also complement these approaches.

Part 6: Replacing physical objects with virtual (digital) ones
In preparation – To be published in August 2011.

2 August 2011

Book: Design for Services

Design for Services
Design for Services
Series: Design for Social Responsibility
Authors: Anna Meroni and Daniela Sangiorgi
Gower Publishing, August 2011, 298 pages

In Design for Services, Anna Meroni and Daniela Sangiorgi articulate what Design is doing and can do for services, and how this connects to existing fields of knowledge and practice. Designers previously saw their task as the conceptualisation, development and production of tangible objects. In the twenty-first century, a designer rarely ‘designs something’ but rather ‘designs for something': in the case of this publication, for change, better experiences and better services.

The authors reflect on this recent transformation in the practice, role and skills of designers, by organising their book into three main sections. The first section links Design for Services to existing models and studies on services and service innovation. Section two presents multiple service design projects to illustrate and clarify the issues, practices and theories that characterise the discipline today; using these case studies the authors propose a conceptual framework that maps and describes the role of designers in the service economy. The final section projects the discipline into the emerging paradigms of a new economy to initiate a reflection on its future development.

Contents:

Preface, Rachel Cooper

Introduction, Ezio Manzini

Section 1 Introduction to Design for Services: A new discipline

Section 2 Design for Services: from Theory to Practice and Vice Versa

Designing interactions, relations and experiences
CASE STUDY 1: Co-designing Services in The Public Sector
CASE STUDY 2: Developing Collaborative Tools in International Projects: Polidaido Project.
CASE STUDY 3: Designing Empathic Conversations about Future User Experiences
CASE STUDY 4: Driving Service Design by Directed Storytelling
CASE STUDY 5: Exploring Mobile Needs and Behaviours in Emerging Markets

Designing interactions to shape systems and organisations
CASE STUDY 6: There is More to Service than Interactions
CASE STUDY 7: How Service Design can Support Innovation in the Public Sector
CASE STUDY 8: From Novelty to Routine: Services in Science and Technology-based Enterprises
CASE STUDY 9: Enabling Excellence in Service with Expressive Service Blueprinting

Exploring new collaborative service models
CASE STUDY 19: Service Design, New Media and Community Development
CASE STUDY 11: Designing the next generation of public services
CASE STUDY 12: A Service Design Inquiry into Learning and Personalisation
CASE STUDY 13: Mobile and Collaborative. Mobile-Phones, Digital Services and Socio-Cultural Activation.

Imagining future directions for service systems
CASE STUDY 14: Using Scenarios to Explore System Change: VEIL, Local Food Depot
CASE STUDY 15: Designing a collaborative projection of the ‘Cité du Design’
CASE STUDY 16: Enabling Sustainable Behaviours in Mobility through Service Design
CASE STUDY 17: Supporting Social Innovation in Food Networks

A map of design for services
What is design for services?
What job profiles for a service designer?

Section 3 Future Developments: An emerging economy

Appendices

Index

Authors

Dr Anna Meroni is assistant professor at the INDACO (Industrial Design, Arts, Communication and Fashion) Department of the Politecnico di Milano University, Italy, a Training and Research Centre in Design. She investigates service from the perspective of strategic social innovation, with a specific emphasis on community centred design. Her main research areas are food systems and innovative housing for sustainable lifestyles. Dr Meroni is co-director of the international Master in Strategic Design and a visiting professor and scholar in schools and universities around the world. She is active in the launch and promotion of the international network DESIS, Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability.

Dr Daniela Sangiorgi is a lecturer at ImaginationLancaster, the creative research laboratory at the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts (Lancaster University, UK). As one of the early scholars looking into Service Design, she has gained international recognition. Her work has been mapping and supporting this emerging field of study and research since its outset. Her doctorate has investigated services as complex social systems, proposing holistic and participatory approaches to Service Design. Recent work has been exploring the role of Design and participation within public services reform, with a focus on commissioning for healthcare. She has been one of the founders of the Service Design Network and Service Design Research initiatives.

Contributors

Sara Bury, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Keith Cheverst, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Carla Cipolla, Department INDACO, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Shelley Evenson, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Luca Maria Francesco Fabris, Centro Metid and Dept. BEST, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Giordana Ferri, Department INDACO, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Julia Gillen, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, UK
Valerie Hickey, IBM Research USA and IBM Corporation, Canada
Stefan Holmlid, Linkoping University, Sweden
Johnathan Ishmael, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
François Jégou, Strategic Design Scenarios, Belgium
Sabine Junginger, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, UK
Lucy Kimbell, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK
Keith Mitchell, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Dianne Moy, Melbourne University, Australia
Elena Pacenti, Domus Academy Research Centre, Italy
Margherita Pillan, Department INDACO, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Nicholas J. P. Race, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Bas Raijmakers, STBY, The Netherlands and UK
Mark Rouncefield, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Chris Ryan, Melbourne University, Australia
Susanna Sancassani, Managing Director Centro METID, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Giulia Simeone, Department INDACO, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Paul Smith, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Susan L. Spraragen, IBM Research USA and IBM Corporation, Canada
Deborah Szebeko, Think Public, UK
Nick Taylor, Computing Department, Lancaster University, UK
Paola Trapani, Department INDACO, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia, Italy
Roger Whitham, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, UK
Jennie Winhall, Participle, UK

27 July 2011

Design for Social Innovation: an interview with Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini
Ezio Manzini is an Italian design strategist, one of the world’s leading experts on sustainable design, author of numerous design books, professor of Industrial Design at Milan Polytechnic, and founder of the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability) network of university-based design labs.

His work over the past 30 years in sustainability and social innovation has coalesced around four watchwords: small, local, open and connected.

Sarah Brooks of Shareable spoke with him via Skype and published a transcript.

“For me, dealing with the needed sustainable changes that are mainly cultural and behavior change, the pivotal moment has been when I moved from saying “What can I do to help people change behavior?” toward the discovery that a lot of people (even if they aren’t yet so visible) had already changed, and in a good way, their behaviors. And that therefore, the right question is: ”What can I do to trigger and support these new way of thinking and doing? How can I use my design knowledge and tools to empower these grass-roots social innovations?”

Read full interview

23 July 2011

Ten Ways to Redesign Design Competitions

EDF buffet
John Thackara has been a juror on a series of sustainability and design competitions recently. And he has become a bit frustrated.

Most of them, he says, miss their tremendous potential of stimulating fresh thinking, posing new questions, exploring new solutions, starting new conversations, bringing positive energy, fostering connections between people, and motivating diverse group to try and make those outcomes actually happen.

John outlines ten reasons for why that is the case. But, he says, “it’s because design challenges have such an important role in the transition to sustainability that it’s worth improving them, radically.” In that spirit, John also lists ten suggestions of ways to make them better.

Since I have been participating as a juror in a fair number as well (including the EDF Sustainability Challenge that John writes about), I gladly post about this here.

The picture on the left was from the buffet at the EDF award ceremony (click on the picture for a zoomed version). The fact that it had a mini nuclear power station right in the middle (EDF is France’s main energy company), raised many eyebrows and made the guests question what this sustainability event was really about.

Read article

19 July 2011

Beyond the cubicle

Arieff's desk
Allison Arieff talks in her New York Times Opinionator blog about the design of work.

Paraphrasing Nathan Shedroff, she states that furniture is not the problem. Instead, she says, “design itself is the problem because it is being used to solve the wrong ones — despite its best intentions.”

“The Journal had asked a handful of design firms “to envision a space that could inspire ideas and increase productivity.” I’m not going to argue that good architecture won’t make for more pleasant working environments that can lead to greater employee satisfaction — the workplace is still relevant no matter how many people work remotely (currently over 50 million, at least part of the time). But it’s also true that creativity can come from anywhere, and probably least of all from inside a cubicle, no matter how sunny and technologically mind-blowing it is.

So, apart from furniture and skylights, how might designers (and the companies who hire them) think about work differently?”

In her article, Arieff provides a few examples of “some truly inventive things happening in the world of work”.

Read article

UPDATE:
Read also part 2 of this article.

10 July 2011

Smart Design’s Femme Den series on gender and design

Triumph
Smart Design’s think tank presents an ongoing discussion of how gender should be included in good design – all published in a new series on Fast Company.

The Femme Den started thinking about gender and design five years ago as an expansion of Smart Design’s commitment to understanding people.

Introduction
Smart Design’s think tank presents an ongoing discussion of how gender should be included in good design.

Women are 85% of the consumer market. But how do you reach them?
“Approach women like you do wild animals, with caution and a soothing voice.” I have to agree. Targeting a female audience requires a delicate, nuanced approach.

Why girly designs directed at women often backfire
Women don’t always take kindly to being isolated by gender or being told that they’re “different.” There needs to be a rock-solid rationale for separate, visible design solutions.

How a gadget can draw women while impressing men
Good technology doesn’t necessarily have to be overly complicated. Just look at the Flip video camera, whose intuitive UI appealed to women, while still impressing techie men.

26 June 2011

Enchanted Objects: The next wave of the web

Enchanted mirror
David Rose (LinkedIn), CEO of Vitality (where he works on healthy behavior change) and lecturer at MIT Media Lab (and former CEO of Ambient Devices), gave a talk recently at TEDxBerkeley on how magic anticipates ubiquitous computing.

“Magic, or enchantment, is the right metaphor for the future of computing. [...]

Magic is a convenient metaphor of connected things because the affordances are there. You understand the object… and this motivates the incremental function. [...]

We can take a lesson from the history of the future to figure out what enchanted things will succeed or fail. The ones that satisfy primal wishes or fantasies will succeed. These primal wishes are revealed through narratives that we know and can analyze. It’s a psychology problem. Especially for Cinderella’s narcissistic stepmother. I’m not sure what robots wish for, but I can tell you what humans want:

We wish for six things that enchanted objects tend to satisfy:

For Omniscience, for human connection, for protection, for health (immortality is better), for effortless mobility or teleportation, and for expression (or creative manifestation).

These are the killer apps.”

View video of talk
Download talk slides

Check also David’s recent reflection on the topic of “juicy feedback,” a term that comes from game design and describes when a small action produces a surprisingly large reaction. He uses this paradigm to develop six design ideas relevant to products intended to change people’s behavior.

David’s thinking was inspiring for an article in this month’s Wired Magazine, which argues that by providing people with information about their actions in real time, you give them a chance to change those actions, and push them toward better behaviors.

David Rose is a product designer, technology visionary, and serial entrepreneur.

Currently David is Chief Executive at Vitality, a company that is reinventing medication packaging with wireless technology.

Rose founded and was CEO of Ambient Devices where he pioneered glanceable technology: embedding Internet information in everyday objects like light bulbs, mirrors, refrigerator doors, digital post-it notes, and umbrellas to make the physical environment an interface to digital information.

Rose founded Viant’s Innovation Center, an advanced technology group for Fortune 500s including Sony, GM, Schwab, Sprint and Kinkos. He helped build Viant to over 900 people, $140M and a successful IPO.

In 1997 Rose patented online photo-sharing and founded Opholio (acquired by FlashPoint Technology).

Before the Internet he founded and was President of Interactive Factory (acquired by RDW Group) which creates interactive museum exhibits, educational software and smart toys, including the award-winning LEGO Mindstorms Robotic Invention System.

Rose taught information visualization at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and currently teaches a popular course in tangible user interfaces at the MIT Media Lab. He is a frequent speaker to corporations and design and technology conferences.

16 June 2011

SEE Conference report by Mark Vanderbeeken

SEE Bulletin Issue 6
On 29 March, Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken chaired the European SEE Conference on integrating design into regional and national policies.

The high-level conference, which also featured Peter Dröll, the European Commission’s Head of Innovation Policy, was organised by the SEE project, a network of eleven European partners engaging with national and regional governments to integrate design into innovation policy.

The summary of the event is now available on pages 10 to 12 of the latest SEE Bulletin, the only publication entirely dedicated to exploring matters related to design policies and programmes for design support.

Also in the publication:
– A discussion on design supply and demand and the policy repercussions by Dr Qian Sun of the University of Salford;
– A policy map with interviews from Italy, Finland, Estonia and South Korea;
– Background on Dublin’s bid For World Design Capital 2014;
– Case study on Argentina’s seminar programme ‘Design and Business, Concepts that Merge’;
– Case study on Wales’ Service Design Programme;
– A short concluding reflection on the SEE project legacy.

Download SEE Bulletin Issue 6

(Conference presentation and audio recordings are also available for download)

4 June 2011

Patients want more user-friendly medical devices

Medical devices
Cambridge Consultants released the findings of a study which examines how device usability impacts patient acceptance, dosage compliance and ultimately health outcomes. Looking at the role lifestyle factors and device features play in patient compliance for drug and device combination products, the research supports the idea that pharmaceutical companies could improve the market share of their drugs if the emphasis was shifted to the broader patient user experience.

Participants in the survey included healthcare providers, which play critical roles in determining a drug’s market success, and over 240 diabetes patients who used combination products daily, such as injection pens, auto-injectors or insulin pumps.

Responses indicated that patient compliance directly influences patient health and drug efficacy, suggesting that delivery device design should be focussed on supporting compliance on multiple levels.

Read article

26 May 2011

City as a platform

PSFK
Two talks from the 2011 PSFK conference caught my attention:

City as a platform (video)
In her role as Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, Rachel Sterne is tasked with strengthening the City’s digital media presence and streamlining internal digital communications.
In her talk Sterne demonstrated recent innovations that are shaping the city’s future. Mentioning how city resident participation is crucial with a real-time approach, attendees were shown “The Daily Pothole,” a Tumblr that tracks the D.O.T.’s progress in filling potholes in the five boroughs and its companion app, the roll-out of QR code technology on building permits, the NYC 311 app, as well as fielding service requests via Twitter.

Industrial Design: ID For The City (alternate) (video)
Duncan Jackson and Eoin Billings (interview), are both partners at Billings Jackson, a design firm specializing in public spaces. They spoke about their work, history and how they bridge the gap between architecture and manufacturing. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, they appreciate and embrace the the urban landscape for what it is. Crafting solutions that interpret design vision in city environments is their forté and the duo explained the value in understanding the intricacies of each place, culture, and its residents before beginning a new project. Their approach is exemplified through their architectural work, with city life exuding from each structure rather then being blurred by it.

> Check also the video and PSFK report on the Microsoft Home of the Future.

18 May 2011

Socially responsible design – more relevant than ever

Frieze
Jan-Christoph Zoels, Experientia’s design director, took part in an interesting discussion on socially responsible design for the “Design matters” section of this month’s frieze magazine, a leading magazine on contemporary art and culture.

The roundtable discussion was led by Eugenia Bell, design editor of frieze, and debated the largely unresolved relationship between design and social responsibility.

The six high-profile contributors included GOOD editor and New York Times columnist Allison Arieff, industrial designer Ryan Duke, activist, graphic designer, writer and programmer John Emerson, editor of Change Observer Julie Lasky, and designer and artist Damon Rich, as well as Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Starting with the strengths and limits of designing with a sense of cultural, ecological or economic responsibility, the roundtable went on to discuss the increased relevance of socially responsible design in our post-economic crisis world, as well as the increasing urgency of embedding sustainable solutions into everyday design, rather than consigning it to a niche.

Debating ethics, pragmatism and principle, the contributors emphasised the urgent need to engage people and governments in participatory processes, and to ensure that designers are taught not just how to design objects, services and processes, but also how to design them for the end-users, taking into account different cultural needs and barriers, and never backing down from new contexts and challenges.

The final question raised the issue of socially responsible design becoming simply window-dressing or branding by companies lacking a real moral compass, or well-meaning but misdirected attempts by groups who fail to address the underlying issues of a specific problem.

Read discussion