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Critical Design :: Restoring a sense of wonder to Interaction Design


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Presentation at Interaction12, Dublin, Ireland

Will the promise of Critical Design deliver after the disappointment of ethnography? Interaction Designers expected ethnography to reveal rich insights that would inform the creation of better products, services and experiences. However the pressure of solution-focused design practice turned out to be a poor fit with ethnography’s concern with meaning and cultures. In response, Critical Design is emerging as a new strategy for exploring the space that lies tantalisingly beyond the current and the now.

At the core of ethnography is observation and therein lies the appeal to Interaction Designers. The disappointment has been in the failure to translate from the rich descriptive picture of ethnography into the generation of requirements. This expectation reveals a misunderstanding as to the purpose of ethnography. Ethnography uncovers meaning, it does not identify problems or solutions. Interaction Designers have responded by taking a more ‘designerly’ approach to requirements generation by considering both the problem and the solution in a more fluid and intertwined manner. In this vein, Critical Design presents design as a catalyst or provocation for thought. Through ‘design fictions’ the approach attempts to challenge assumptions and preconceptions about the role that products and services play in everyday life. A series recent of workshops will be discussed that have blended aspects of ethnography and Critical Design to identify the future paradigms of interaction in the urban environment.

Critical Design :: Restoring a sense of wonder to Interaction Design

  1. 1. Critical Design :: Restoring a sense of wonder to Interaction Design Michael Smyth & Ingi Helgason Centre for Interaction Design Edinburgh Napier University, UK @michael_smythSaturday, 4 February 12
  2. 2. Digital Blur, Libri Publishing (2010).Saturday, 4 February 12
  3. 3. Create10 Conference and Showcase, Edinburgh.Saturday, 4 February 12
  4. 4. We live in a world where everything seems possible and as a consequence have lost the sense of wonder. Branko Lukic, NonObject, MIT Press (2011)Saturday, 4 February 12
  5. 5. Where do these moments of design inspiration come from?Saturday, 4 February 12
  6. 6. Interaction Design takes a more ‘designerly’ approach than HCI and considers both the problem and solution in a more fluid and intertwined manner.Saturday, 4 February 12
  7. 7. One method favoured by Interaction Designers is ethnography. Observation that aims to provide insight into work, culture and behavioural practices.Saturday, 4 February 12
  8. 8. Ethnography uncovers meaning, it does not identify problems or solutions.Saturday, 4 February 12
  9. 9. A tension between the pressure of solution-focused design practice and ethnography’s concern with meanings and culture.Saturday, 4 February 12
  10. 10. Where is the WOW in ethnography?Saturday, 4 February 12
  11. 11. Critical Design acts as a catalyst or provocation for thought (Anthony Dunne, 1999).Saturday, 4 February 12
  12. 12. Critical Design challenges our assumptions and preconceptions about the role that products and services play in everyday life.Saturday, 4 February 12
  13. 13. Street Art (Tom Welsh, 2009).Saturday, 4 February 12
  14. 14. Video as a way of understanding the design space. Layers of meaning.Saturday, 4 February 12
  15. 15. Saturday, 4 February 12
  16. 16. This Pervasive Day, Edinburgh (2011).Saturday, 4 February 12
  17. 17. A Design Fiction exploring the surreptitious capture of personal data.Saturday, 4 February 12
  18. 18. Fictitious personal data matched with your image.Saturday, 4 February 12
  19. 19. Aim was to encourage people to question whether this was a desirable future?Saturday, 4 February 12
  20. 20. digitalAntique :: Split Interactions, Croatia (2011).Saturday, 4 February 12
  21. 21. Exploring the connections between past and present.Saturday, 4 February 12
  22. 22. Articulating the values of the present and getting people to reflect on them.Saturday, 4 February 12
  23. 23. The universality of values.Saturday, 4 February 12
  24. 24. Preckam Most :: Crossing the Bridge, Interaction Design Workshop, Magdalena Festival, Slovenia (2009).Saturday, 4 February 12
  25. 25. An intervention that sought to slow down people’s journeys, to view the mundane and familiar in fresh ways.Saturday, 4 February 12
  26. 26. Crossing the bridge became a different experience.Saturday, 4 February 12
  27. 27. The act of taking photographs altered perspectives on everyday routines.Saturday, 4 February 12
  28. 28. Informing the Design of the Future Urban Landscape, DIS 2010, Aarhus, Denmark.Saturday, 4 February 12
  29. 29. Intersections & crossing points between the physical & digital worlds. bleed points.Saturday, 4 February 12
  30. 30. Building on scrapbooks, sketches & moodboards.Saturday, 4 February 12
  31. 31. Inspiring conceptual connections between tangible objects & imagined behaviours.Saturday, 4 February 12
  32. 32. The coupling of gathering and reflecting and what that process reveals.Saturday, 4 February 12
  33. 33. Ethnography :: minutiae of the now (discovery). Critical Design :: how things could be (exploration).Saturday, 4 February 12
  34. 34. No-one cares about what you think, unless you do what you think. No-one cares about what you do, unless you think about what you do. Jack Schulze, BERG LondonSaturday, 4 February 12
  35. 35. www.urbanixd.orgSaturday, 4 February 12