14 April 2007

New experience design school in the Netherlands

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putting people first
by experientia

Experience Design at Utrecht School of Visual Arts
The Utrecht School of the Arts in the Netherlands will be starting a new bachelor degree in experience design [website in Dutch only] as of September, the first programme of its kind in Europe, and is now recruiting students.

The four-year degree programme is lead by Rob Van Kranenburg, who used to work at Virtual Platform, De Balie, the New Media Department of the University of Amsterdam, and Doors of Perception. He published on RFID and Ambient Intelligence.

The programme has a strong focus on the design of ambient devices in a wireless world. It is introduced as follows (my translation):

Experience Design is a new study programme at the Utrecht School of the Arts that teaches designers in a new, emerging professional field that brings together (computer) technology, the physical environment and a positive-critical design practice. An Experience Designer develops communication applications that will involve people without them having to sit behind a computer screen. Well known of course are mobile phones, digital organisers, navigation systems in cars and handheld game consoles, but in the coming years we can also expect intelligent clothing, smart spaces (that know who and where we are) and doors that automatically open for some people but not for others. The applications that an Experience Designer develops will add to the quality of life by creating ‘meaningful experiences’ for people with the help of wireless technology.

Interestingly, it has a rather idiosyncratic way of differentiating itself from interaction design (that one can also study at the Utrecht School of the Arts) that is not too clear and I don’t really agree with.

Interaction Design has a much broader orientation on human-computer interaction, and focuses in particular on graphical interfaces, multimedia design, game design and physical/experimental interfaces. Experience Design deals with the (individual) user experience, has a more social focus, and hardly deals with the graphical interfaces of ‘classical’ multimedia such as websites or interactive cd-roms.

But maybe this definition has more to do with internal politics at the Utrecht School of the Arts than anything else, and we shouldn’t focus too much on it.

Good luck, Rob

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