16 October 2010

Interactions and sustainability at the RCA, London

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putting people first
by experientia

Design Interactions Research
Some great news from the RCA this week:

Design Interactions Research
The Design Interactions program at the Royal College of Art, led by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, has launched a brand new research site, showcasing projects done by tutors, research fellows and research associates over the last few years. As well as working on applied research exploring themes and topics developed with external partners funded through a mixture of research council, European Union, cultural, academic and industrial organisations, Interactions at RCA is working towards establishing a theoretical framework for conceptual, critical and speculative design practices in relation to science and technology.

“What happens when you decouple design from the marketplace, when rather than making technology sexy, easy to use and more consumable, designers use the language of design to pose questions, inspire, and provoke — to transport our imaginations into parallel but possible worlds?

Our research explores new ways design can make technology more meaningful and relevant to our lives, both now, and in the future, by thinking not only about new applications but implications as well.

It focusses on exploring interactions between people, science and technology on many different levels. We’re concerned not only with the expressive, functional and communicative possibilities of new technologies but also with the social, cultural and ethical consequences of living within an increasingly technologically mediated society.

We do this through design-led research projects which are disseminated internationally through exhibitions, publications and conferences. Our research is funded through a mixture of research council, EU, cultural, academic and industrial organisations.

As well as working on applied research exploring themes and topics developed with external partners, we are working towards establishing a theoretical framework for conceptual, critical and speculative design practices in relation to science and technology.”

The challenges of teaching sustainability
The RCA’s Approach, by Clare Brass and Octavia Reeve (on Core77)

“It is normally taken for granted that economic growth is vital for maintaining economic health, but research has shown that wellbeing depends less on material goods than on our lifestyles. The New Economics Foundation in the UK publishes a global Happy Planet Index, which measures the combination of environmental impact and wellbeing, to quantify the environmental efficiency with which—country by country—people live long and happy lives.

So what can we as educators do to enhance those valuable skills that designers have and get them using those skills to redesign not only the products that we buy but also the lifestyles that we live and the systems that organise our lives, making them better for people? Design education needs to position itself in such a way that designers are trained to design good customer experiences with the lowest possible environmental impact. “

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