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Expanding
the design object
Frederick van Amstel
http://fredvanamstel.com
Architecture and Design School
Digital Design
PUCPR
Systematic design thinking
•Define requirements before starting
•Designing separate modules or components
•Creating systems that connect all parts
•Avoid mistakes and failures
•Decisions based on quantities
•Designing with explicit constraints
Systematic design-a-house software concept
Intuitive design thinking
•The project stems from a moment of inspiration
•The concept is visualized through sketches, which
transform into alternatives and models
•The project is refined until it reaches a high
degree of internal coherence
•The project is not implemented by its creators
and must be defended or sold
Intuitive eyebrow designs made among students
Expansive design thinking
•The project stems from developing empathy by a
particular type of person
•Work is collaborative and involves many
disciplines
•Design models are simple and accessible by all
•Emphasizes an holistic vision (social,
psychological, technical, financial)
Expansive design for a house gets to a fundamental
question (Why having so much with no time to enjoy?)
Again, what is the object
of design?
What do we design when
we design?
Expansion of the house as a
design object
Object: construction materials (brick house)
Object: complex entity (modern house)
Objeto: emergent performance (dwelling experience)
Expansion of the eyebrow as a
design object
Object: construction materials (hair removal)
Object: complex entity (eyebrow design)
Object: emergent performance (aesthetic treatment)
Expansion of the website as a
design object
Object: construction materials (HTML + Javascript)
Object: complex entity (webdesign)
Object: emergent performance (user experience)
What is an object
in activity theory?
•It has both a concrete and
an abstract existence
•It is transformed into a
product or result
•It raises various motives,
even the conflicting ones
•If removed from an
activity, the activity looks
nonsense
Objects = Instruments
Most common mistake done with activity theory
Cooking
activity
Eating
activity
Served
food
Eaten
food
Self-
feeding
activity
Food
The same material thing can become different objects
The same object can raise many motives
Activity theory is complex
since it is a theory of
organization transformation.
Change explanation:
Activity changes when the
object expands.
Yrjö Engeström
Expansive cycle
A new need starts to
bother people, but they
do not understand it
People face strong
conflict of motives
around the object
Creation of a new motive and
instruments that materialize it
Applying
instruments and
dealing with
resistance to
change
Consolidation of a new
object and activity
Engeström, 1987
1
2
3
4
5
Design problems
•Design problems try to make the unspeakable
motives clearer to people
•What is a problem for someone is not a problem
for another person
•Design problems do not have a right or wrong
solution because they exist to motivate people
for doing something about the need state
•It is difficult to tell when a need is fulfilled
because the need is never fully understood
Design solutions
•A proposal to change activity through instruments
that better deal with the current needs
•Instruments that materialize the new motives
•It is never final or ultimate. There is always
something left to improve
•New instruments may face resistance to change
and recede back to strong conflicts of motives,
preventing the consolidation of a new object
Tactics to expand design objects
•Investigate the motives behind the object
•Create a provocative solution
•Import an instrument from another activity
•Promote the confrontation of interests
•Share the object among multiple activities
•Make a contradiction visible
Investigation of motives behind having eyebrows in society
A provocative solution to expand the object of eyebrow
design (what if eyebrows were like moustaches?)
Imported instrument from another activity (moustache)
Eyebrows as a shared object among two activities
(eyebrow design and eyebrow wearing)
Confronting the question of being someone (who are you?)
with the possession of a house
The contradiction of working hard to accumulate properties
and having no time to enjoy them
Instruments I often use to
expand design objects:
co-creation materials
Post-it
•One idea per post-it
•Good to generate ideas in
silence and discuss later
•Ideas can be reorganized
later so it does not need
to have a pre-determined
structure
Lego
•People have experience
•The pieces activate
memories of similar thing
•Good to express
complicated things that
are difficult to speak
•Quick metaphors
Kraft paper
•Turns any space into a
cocreation space
•Cover walls and tables to
avoid scratches and losing
Lego pieces
•Creates an atmosphere of
creativity
Small whiteboards
•Write or draw together in
a group
•Since it is so easy to
erase, it avoids the block
of wrong start
•Present the work of small
groups to a larger group
Whiteboard on wheels
•Take advantage of stand
up posture
•People can come closer
and leave with little
acknowledgement
•Can create temporary
spaces
Recycable trash
•Sustainable material
•Useful to deal with
consumption topics
•Metaphors from everyday
familiar objects
Play-doh
•Warm up exercise
•Express feelings and
emotions
•Rapid prototyping
Smartphone videos
•Quick to produce
•Depict everyday scenarios
•Documenting interactions
across time
Hats and masks
•Helps a person (especially
the shy) to pretend she is
another person
•Masks reduces the
laughter when getting into
character
General recommendations
•Prefer flexible materials that you can use to
materialize different motives
•Prevent a single person to monopolize a material
•Take advantage of last minute ideas and bring all
your materials even if you don’t plan on using
them
•Use materials to make visible and actionable
conflicts of motives and contradictions
Exercise
•Try expanding the house, the website and
eyebrows when they become a design object
•Rethink these objects
•Use the co-creation materials as you wish to
materialize the new motives
•Try the tactics to expand design objects (slide
22)
Thank you!
Frederick van Amstel
http://fredvanamstel.com
Architecture and Design School
Digital Design
PUCPR

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Expanding the design object

  • 1. Expanding the design object Frederick van Amstel http://fredvanamstel.com Architecture and Design School Digital Design PUCPR
  • 2. Systematic design thinking •Define requirements before starting •Designing separate modules or components •Creating systems that connect all parts •Avoid mistakes and failures •Decisions based on quantities •Designing with explicit constraints
  • 4. Intuitive design thinking •The project stems from a moment of inspiration •The concept is visualized through sketches, which transform into alternatives and models •The project is refined until it reaches a high degree of internal coherence •The project is not implemented by its creators and must be defended or sold
  • 5. Intuitive eyebrow designs made among students
  • 6. Expansive design thinking •The project stems from developing empathy by a particular type of person •Work is collaborative and involves many disciplines •Design models are simple and accessible by all •Emphasizes an holistic vision (social, psychological, technical, financial)
  • 7. Expansive design for a house gets to a fundamental question (Why having so much with no time to enjoy?)
  • 8. Again, what is the object of design? What do we design when we design?
  • 9. Expansion of the house as a design object Object: construction materials (brick house) Object: complex entity (modern house) Objeto: emergent performance (dwelling experience)
  • 10. Expansion of the eyebrow as a design object Object: construction materials (hair removal) Object: complex entity (eyebrow design) Object: emergent performance (aesthetic treatment)
  • 11. Expansion of the website as a design object Object: construction materials (HTML + Javascript) Object: complex entity (webdesign) Object: emergent performance (user experience)
  • 12. What is an object in activity theory? •It has both a concrete and an abstract existence •It is transformed into a product or result •It raises various motives, even the conflicting ones •If removed from an activity, the activity looks nonsense
  • 13. Objects = Instruments Most common mistake done with activity theory
  • 15. The same material thing can become different objects
  • 16. The same object can raise many motives
  • 17. Activity theory is complex since it is a theory of organization transformation.
  • 18. Change explanation: Activity changes when the object expands. Yrjö Engeström
  • 19. Expansive cycle A new need starts to bother people, but they do not understand it People face strong conflict of motives around the object Creation of a new motive and instruments that materialize it Applying instruments and dealing with resistance to change Consolidation of a new object and activity Engeström, 1987 1 2 3 4 5
  • 20. Design problems •Design problems try to make the unspeakable motives clearer to people •What is a problem for someone is not a problem for another person •Design problems do not have a right or wrong solution because they exist to motivate people for doing something about the need state •It is difficult to tell when a need is fulfilled because the need is never fully understood
  • 21. Design solutions •A proposal to change activity through instruments that better deal with the current needs •Instruments that materialize the new motives •It is never final or ultimate. There is always something left to improve •New instruments may face resistance to change and recede back to strong conflicts of motives, preventing the consolidation of a new object
  • 22. Tactics to expand design objects •Investigate the motives behind the object •Create a provocative solution •Import an instrument from another activity •Promote the confrontation of interests •Share the object among multiple activities •Make a contradiction visible
  • 23. Investigation of motives behind having eyebrows in society
  • 24. A provocative solution to expand the object of eyebrow design (what if eyebrows were like moustaches?)
  • 25. Imported instrument from another activity (moustache)
  • 26. Eyebrows as a shared object among two activities (eyebrow design and eyebrow wearing)
  • 27. Confronting the question of being someone (who are you?) with the possession of a house
  • 28. The contradiction of working hard to accumulate properties and having no time to enjoy them
  • 29. Instruments I often use to expand design objects: co-creation materials
  • 30. Post-it •One idea per post-it •Good to generate ideas in silence and discuss later •Ideas can be reorganized later so it does not need to have a pre-determined structure
  • 31. Lego •People have experience •The pieces activate memories of similar thing •Good to express complicated things that are difficult to speak •Quick metaphors
  • 32. Kraft paper •Turns any space into a cocreation space •Cover walls and tables to avoid scratches and losing Lego pieces •Creates an atmosphere of creativity
  • 33. Small whiteboards •Write or draw together in a group •Since it is so easy to erase, it avoids the block of wrong start •Present the work of small groups to a larger group
  • 34. Whiteboard on wheels •Take advantage of stand up posture •People can come closer and leave with little acknowledgement •Can create temporary spaces
  • 35. Recycable trash •Sustainable material •Useful to deal with consumption topics •Metaphors from everyday familiar objects
  • 36. Play-doh •Warm up exercise •Express feelings and emotions •Rapid prototyping
  • 37. Smartphone videos •Quick to produce •Depict everyday scenarios •Documenting interactions across time
  • 38. Hats and masks •Helps a person (especially the shy) to pretend she is another person •Masks reduces the laughter when getting into character
  • 39. General recommendations •Prefer flexible materials that you can use to materialize different motives •Prevent a single person to monopolize a material •Take advantage of last minute ideas and bring all your materials even if you don’t plan on using them •Use materials to make visible and actionable conflicts of motives and contradictions
  • 40. Exercise •Try expanding the house, the website and eyebrows when they become a design object •Rethink these objects •Use the co-creation materials as you wish to materialize the new motives •Try the tactics to expand design objects (slide 22)
  • 41. Thank you! Frederick van Amstel http://fredvanamstel.com Architecture and Design School Digital Design PUCPR