The Final Reflections of this Course

In this last blog entry, I will start by reflecting on my experiences with designing with various materials and how we have explored these. Then I will reflect on how the texts helped support our process towards the final outcome. Finally, I will elaborate on the overall impressions of this course and how it has given me knowledge that can be used in different contexts.

The trinity of forms
For me, this course offered a completely new way of approaching the design process with the focus on “designing as reflective conversation with design materials“ (Schön, 1992).

From earlier courses, I have learned how to use various approaches based on user experiences. Because of these learnings, it was challenging initially, and a completely new way of understanding and managing design. However, to manage how to explore the different materials and computations, it was found helpful to make use of what Vallgårda (2013) presents as the trinity of forms to help unfold the interaction design. As it helped manage the different components and explore it in different directions, while still keeping in mind how the final outcome could turn out to be, and the on going negotiation of the temporal form, the physical form and the interaction gestalt. Through that, it helped to overcome the challenges of perhaps trying out too many materials and ideas at once, before finally in managing how to shape all these components into a whole.  Furthermore, the way it aided us in managing the design of the interactive artefact, was through help engaging in one form at the time. For the physical form the materials were continuously explored, through moulding and building up different possibilities of what the jellyfish (I2SEA) could act out. Whereas, the narrow focus on the temporal form, engaging us in explorations of the code, in terms of how the light of the led strip should act and how to create a feedback of the light, to give the impression of a living creature that we wanted I2SEA to obtain. Finally the focus of the interaction gestalt, assisted in the constant experiments of how the physical form and temporal form acted out as a whole, to gain knowledge of how the users might engage with the artefact. This process followed up even until the last day. At this point, we choose to remove one of the functional feedbacks of a right light, that would appear if the artefact was swung too hard by the string, as it constraint the movement of the user’s, making them too careful when exploring the design.

Speaking the language of interaction design
Another important part of this process was to learn the vocabulary of interaction design. To do so, the book ‘The design of everyday thing’ by Norman (2013) and article “Interaction frogger: a design framework to couple action and function through feedback and feedforward” by Wensveen, Djajadiningrat, & Overbeeke (2004) were very beneficial, in terms of learning how to approach and manage all parts of the design. On one side, I have learned through Normans (2013) design principles of affordances, conceptual model and signifiers, understandings of of how artefacts can be perceived and approached, with regards to different components of an artefact. While on the other hand, Wensveen, Djajadiningrat, & Overbeeke (2004) terms of feedback and feedforward.  The latter gave the skills towards approaching the design process in regards to grasp what kinds of information in terms of that feedforward that takes place before a user’s action(s) and provides information hereof. Moreover, the feedback of a product or artefact and what kinds of information that is returned to the user.  These terms was especially useful to create the though around how the feedforward could provide just the right amount of information to the user, while creating a feedback that can make an impact on the user as well.

Therefore, this course, gave me understandings of how to explore design, through the materials rather than focusing on the user, as I have experienced prior to this course. Furthermore, I feel more enabled towards being able to create a more tangible outcome rather than a screen based. This aspect was previously rather challenging for me, so it has encouraged me to learn how to manage the skills of designing interactive artefacts design, in a very compressed period. I will carry these learnings with me to the next step of my specialisation as it most certainly will aid my personal skillsets.  Furthermore, the knowledge of how to manage a design in all possible contexts is very applicable in future endeavours in my professional career.

Here is a small representation of how the jellyfish I2SEA was experienced at the exhibition:

Norman, Donald A (2013). The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded edition. Basic books. Ch. 1,2,3.

Schön, Donald A. (1992). Designing as reflective conversation with the materials of a design situation. Research in Engineering Design 3.3, 131-147.

Wensveen, Stephan AG, Tom Djajadiningrat, and C. J. Overbeeke. (2004). Interaction frogger: a design framework to couple action and function through feedback and feedforward. Proceedings of DIS2004. ACM.