Same old problem… but a fresh openness?
I was invited to take part in a workshop on Ageing, attended by several leading Japanese companies (Hitachi, NTT, Ajinomoto, Kao, Omron; Ricoh etc). The participants were either designers (working internally), or R&D people who were excited by ‘Design Thinking’ methods as a way to innovate new systems, services and products for the senior citizens thereby addressing a social issue and creating new opportunities in a ‘growing’ market.
The stage where I participated was a follow-up of several previous workshops that begun with an ethnographic study of senior citizens and followed by an introduction to Design Thinking as a method to generate new ideas. They were then asked to report what they had attempted to do subsequently in their respective departments/companies and share any problems and potential avenues they have encountered since.
Familiar problems were heard such as, lack of ownership and buy-in by fellow staff or support/endorsement from the powers at be. Many shared their attempts to involve their colleagues, inspire them with their ideas and methods, though almost all of them reported that they were unsuccessful. It seemed, from my perspective, that the emphasis they placed on the main ‘user’ (ie, the senior citizen, in this case), they forgot to think about other stakeholders, ie, internal staff, that they are also the main ‘user’ too that needed to be involved in the process of change. Other common themes were the cause and effect proof that such new ‘thing’ can create profit. Although many had agreed that the future vision of empowering senior citizen was essentially a good thing, it was hard for their fellow colleagues to translate that more practically into what they do now. It seemed that the scenarios were too future based that lacked tangibility and belief – they were forcing people to run before they could walk. A ‘buffer’ scenario was needed – perhaps, generated through co-creation from colleagues in other departments, even involving the CEO.
These were interesting observations – commonly heard in other countries – and reflected the experimental approach that the Hakuhodo innovation lab were attempting to create through such initiative. I was also struck by how non-competitive everyone was, and rather than holding on to trade secrets or censoring criticisms or internal company problems, they were all very open in sharing, empathising and, in some instances, celebrating the small success of some other team. That, I felt, was the greatest and most rewarding aspect of being part of this workshop. I wondered whether this ‘culture’ could be observed in Australia or the UK (I can say for sure, not in the US!) – and that they were all supportive, collegial and non-competitive, was a really lovely thing to experience.
Participatory Design Conference 2012, Roskilde, Denmark
Ann Light PDC 2012
Attending the Participatory Design Conference 2012 (12th – 16th Aug, Roskilde, Denmark) was again a very thought provoking and personally rewarding experience.
Ofcourse the highlight was to get to know Ann more, given our previous encounter at PDC 2010 was thwarted by her illness and foggy recollection. I don’t think I fully appreciated how unusual it was to write roughly four papers (2 good ones published) together without really knowing one another previously. But just as we had thought, during the days in Roskilde, we got on really really well, and I think we’ve counted up to five more papers we need to write together – or was that six? Anyway, it just shows how we’ve got a lot of things we’re keen to explore through our productive writing and discussion. I really like the way we can ‘riff’ off one another with our ideas without being too precious about them.
‘Working with human values in design’ was a really interesting workshop, run by Ole Sejer Ivensen, Tuck Wah Leong, Geoffrey Bowker, Judith Gregory and Peter Wright. The shape and content was rather broad and vague, reflecting how difficult it is to ‘pin down’ what values are, so I didn’t really know what to expect but I still enjoyed the conversations, and each person’s interpretation, understanding, and manifestation of values in their work. The irony that struck me was, given that we were trying really hard to articulate and make explicit other people’s vaules, if we were to turn it around and ask ourselves what our own vaues are, would we be able to know or say it out loud? If values are inscribed in everything we do and ways we want to be, how can we separate it out – a bit like separating out a whole tomato from a bolognese pasta sauce (poor analogy but it’ll do until I find a better one!) The other paper that we discussed was the kinesthetic, embodied way of designing (paper 4?), and the values embedded / expressed in objects (paper 5?) Anyway – Ann and I are hoping to write a paper from the things we’ve observed from the workshop (paper 3) so I’m sure that process will clarify a few murky thoughts that are still floating around in my head…
The great thing about workshops is that you meet people and can get to know them really ‘quickly’. Given I didn’t know many people at PDC, it was definately a useful ice-breaker. It was great meeting Rosanne van Klaveren and being introduced to her participatory art practice on ‘togetherness’ through her workshop. The imagined scenarios of giving the Lada to the Nenets was a really fun (boardering silliness, as the photos will show) execise! Triggered by my hasty talk, Liam Bannon and I begun an interesting discussion regarding human-centred design and being human through a Japanese lens, which I’m looking forward to continuing. He’s given me a loads to read – so candidly and generously – I really want to know more about his work so we could continue the dialogue we’ve started.
Other exciting encounters were with Mika Yasukura and Ryo Sakurai, who are exploring PD methods with Japanese people in ’start-up’ initiatives to assit businesses and communities after the March 11 disaster. There were interesting threads they were beginning to tug, for example, how the Scandinavian PD model might work in a place like Japan, or even looking at a ‘Japaneseness’ in the methods used. There was a bit of a buzz from the audience on this, perhaps due to the success of Japanese cultural export in many areas that one might expect or desire for the same in design methods as well. The three of us are hoping to meet in Tokyo in December and flesh some of these ideas out. Ofcourse, my gut feeling says that there is nothing particularly ‘Japanese’ per se – its dangerous to over-generalise that a culture can be simplifed – but in Ann’s lovely words, it might be nice to ‘feel out the edges’ in some way.
I felt that cultural values and re-orienting ourselves to being sensitised to it were things that emerged quite strongly during the conference, given that Nic Bidwell was the closing keynote speaker. Though, I was struck in most cases how it needed to involve such ‘extremes’, ie, a white person going to Africa, Scandinavian methods into Japan, making that ‘difference’ more pronounced. Layering this with a conversation with graceful Dagny Stuedahl – an ethnologist (studies their own culture, as opposed to an anthropologist who studies cultures outside of their own) made me think how attentive one must be to perceive their own, as if from the outside. The excellent exploratory paper by Samantha Merritt and Erik Stolterman highlighted critical things on culture that we tended to overlook – that we are already ‘hybrid’ of many things (echoing Bourdieu) – which looped back nicely to the values workshop that begun the conference for me.
Despite our mild anxiety about ’stating the obvious’ and having to cram a lot in the presentation, the paper by Ann and myself was received very positively (Pelle congratulated me in person and Finn Kensig wrote me a list of things to read), eliciting some to say that it was one of the best papers in the conference (well, all reviewers gave it 5/5, so we knew it could be well received). During the question time, Lucy Suchman said “I think there is a tension in the way that we think about the maturity of a field, that somehow for participatory design to be a mature field, that it should have systematic methods … I’m sure there are colleagues in the room who would, for quite good reasons, hold that view. But for me, a sign of maturity is that people get up and give papers about what is really hard and messy about their practice, that’s aways for me what’s most exciting…”. And, that’s a darn good complement, I’d say! Ann reckoned that it might be more to do with the ‘right climate’ – we popped something that needed to be popped. I too, think we aired a real concern that had been lingering a while, and we demonstrated an embodied way to share our stories – which most would resonate with.
There was something very lovely about Nic’s presentation on walking together to design – and the power it held was very much in the embodied acts we engage with one another as a way to understand and open up to others. To me, this approach is so beautifully ‘unmediated’ and honest, and put simply, human. It situated the inter-relational actions together with the transformative process of ‘going somewhere’, (neither mine, or yours, but ours) and where one ends up is just as relevant as the path they took together in getting there – resonating with ‘Tao’ concepts that strongly run through my work. Through Ann, I got to talk to Nic quite a lot, even exchanging giggly laughs about ‘blue spongey ear plugs’ (can’t quite remember how that started) and given that the next PDC 2014 is in Namibia at Heike’s Polytechnic of Namibia, I hope there is an opportunity to meet these wonderful people again in the near future…
Design Futures at Media and Communication
The irony of discovering the thing you seek is, in fact, residing in the work itself happened today… Reuben and I presented our work to the School under the Design Futures group and made us realise what it is that makes our collective interesting. Before I forget, here are some realisations from the conversations we had.
- Design/designing is enabling. This seems a fitting key concept for Design Futures. Neal then mentioned how he thinks about design as propositional or provocative, and that was an interesting way of thinking about ‘enabling’ as well. Alongside that, I guess there are many other adjectives too – questioning, reflecting, playing…
- Strong connection between artefact, people, process/method and practice. This is in contrast to areas that tend to separate them out individually as THE thing that represents design eg. especially artefacts, or in HCI-esq discourse where method is the king. Our area makes this connection/relationship between them central, and in doing so, brings a different way of presenting/talking/sharing/researching design. In fact, I think we need to be better at talking about this connection, and that will make what we do even more interesting.
- Related to the point made above, connecting design to different fields of knowledge/discourse/practices. Design, in fact, becomes the bridge or the needle that ’stitches’ fields together. This changes the conversation where design had to be ‘different’, ‘unique’, ‘original’ emphasising separation rather than connection – we celebrate the similarities between design and other fields because we see design’s agency when it ‘lives’ in contexts outside of its field domain.
- Participation is a strong value we bring and promote. We practice it, as well as interrogate it.
Reuben and I then later lamented how little we share / talk about our research with one another these days. I haven’t seen his work since he began. I miss the Design GRCs – I think we took that forum for granted and so I really see the impact of its absence now. Lets bring it back – or at least, have ‘mini GRCs’ within our group!
Slides from my preso:
Oscillation between artefact and process – I used this as a framework
artefacts that trigger / scaffold engagement, and in turn,
engagement that creates artefacts or experiences (ie, open-ended and contextual = human-centred)
Compassion and ethics..?
A few weeks ago, I was invited to take part in a facilitated workshop on ‘building a vision for Melbourne’ with Green’s MP Adam Bandt at The Hub Melbourne. There were a range of participants from education, like myself, and others from non-profit organisations, local government, greens members and various industry groups. This workshop was organised so that we, as a group, could contribute to this ‘vision’ for the city of Melborune and for Adam to potentially campaign and implement through his role and input in policies. We broke up into tables that each had a theme – sustainability, equality and compassion – and the groups were given roughly 45min to identify the problems and suggest ideas for implementation.
With the recent contentious Carbon Tax debate, this workshop potentially was a way to generate practical ideas and avenues to address sustainability and social inclusion – two key agendas of the government. The workshop seemed to be mainly greens/labor supporters – so no climate skeptics there – and with a one-sided discussion, it could easily promote an idealistic, skwewed perspective, which was a concern.
The workshop and group discussion sounds good in theory, but there were several issues that were problematic. I was on the ‘compassion’ table and with such a value-laden word, there was no time to agree on what ‘compassion’ meant which led to divergent interpretations about ‘caring’, ‘diversity’, respect’, ‘voice’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘empathy’. Broad generalisations were also made, for example, ‘people don’t care about eachother anymore’, or ‘people don’t have the time’, that also hindered a collective understanding of the issue. The conversation on our table was fraught with tension – those who had the largest voice usually got their point across – some talked over others – we quibbled over terminologies – and ironically, there was very little ‘compassion’ manifesting and being enacted on our table. I felt that the ideas that we proposed, was therefore ‘hollow’ in meaning.
Attending this workshop highlighted a critical neglect in our own discourse in design. It made me realise how ‘compassion’ or ‘empathy’ is a cornerstone for designers, yet little is discussed about its importance, possibly owing to the engineering, sciences or Modernist traditions that highlight roles and functions insead. Designers who have empathy for those they design for and with, are able to engage and create authentically trusting relationships, thereby leading to more meaningful interaction and outcomes. But how do we generate /educate empathy or compassion? Are these values we are born with, nurtured through our parents or taught through formal/informal education in culture/society? Some of these questions also surfaced in our table’s discussion and they seemed very philosophical and deep to be tackled in 10 min!
Probious: Making graphic design visible
As we inch closer to launching the ‘probes’ for the Probious project, I’ve been having really interesting conversations with a few designers. This morning, it was great to get a phone call from Kevin Finn, who I e-mailed out the blue asking for recommendation for designers in regional areas of Australia.
There was a lot we talked about that resonated with conversations that emerged out of past workshops with other designers, but there are a few that stood out from the rest. One area that provided rich discussion was on ‘community’ – its oft nebulous, mis-used term – and that this project was a way to define and describe what the connections might be among people who call themselves ‘graphic designers’. Who are we, what makes us get out of bed in the morning, and what is our relationship to design? These ‘human’ elements can begin to show the make up of our design ‘community’ that is not defined by a job description/qualification. Kevin shared some personal experiences and recollections when he was practicing out of Kununurra, in remote north Western Australia. He said that he didn’t purposefully seek out other designers, but instead, allowed those connections to form naturally with those he had shared interests with. We then laughed at my dislike of being deliberately introduced to other Japanese people in a large party, just because we are Japanese and therefore we must have so much shared interest, or we know common people back home (!)
In our fetish for design artefacts, these often become the criterias in which a designer is evaluated by – “s/he’s a good designer because s/he does engaging and unique work”. This peer-evaluation works on a certain level (such as awards and setting certain ‘benchmarks’ of work) but is not conducive in building cohesion or connection – the bonds that define a community to give its characteristics and unique experiences. In discussing hypothetical scenarios of designers who are in remote/regional areas of Australia, they might deliberately disconnect with the borader design ‘community’ for that reason – for fear of being judged based on their work – because so much of the design ‘community’ is driven and celebrated by those with established their practices in urban areas who have a wide range of ‘interesting’ clients to work with. Designers who are in regional/remote areas may not have access to that diversity, the multi-faceted cultural stimultion and opportunities for exposure of their work, but they are designers nonetheless with personal motivations, their own definition and trajectory into the field of design. The picture of the ‘community’ we are building is to look inside the individual and the contexts they are surrounded by. We need to avoid the reductive, and instead, build a picture of pluerality and diversity.
Kevin warned not to make the designers in such regional/remote places feel as if they were chosen for this study because they are a strange ‘anomaly’ of the design ‘community’. The ‘bearded lady’ to be gawped at at a circus. I can see how easily this project can be misconstrued that way from their perspective, especially if there is a deliberate disconnect from their part and healthy mistrust for ‘all that jazz’ in the city. I’m glad to be reminded of it so we can proceed with more care and caution than before.
Kevin wisely commented that this project can become bigger than initially conceived, generating more questions rather than answers. I sense this enormity as well, and this reassures me that its a piece of research worth doing. However, the question I struggle with now, which came out of our conversation, is whether this is about graphic design at all. Neither it is to make the hidden aspects of it more visible to the public for it to be valued more. These may have been the intial intention of the research project, but I think it has shifted through the process of doing the reserach and having such insightful and critical discussions with practitioners like Kevin. Perhaps this project is similar in objective to the bushfire community preparedness research – an action research that is bridging disconnected individuals though a common purpose or interest – and through this connection, generating knowledge and learning experiences for all.
Participatory Design Conference, Sydney 2010
Just came back from a pretty intense but enjoyable PD conference in Sydney. I was really struck by the strong sense of ‘community’ and how people were very supportive of one another. In the closing speech, Toni Robinson (conference chair, UTS) remarked how nervous she was that no one would come to a PDC that is so far away, and that she really apprecaited people from Europe and America in flying this far. Having the opportunity to meet people like Lucy Suchman and Pelle Ehn was fantastic.
What I was also struck by was how open the PD community were in willing to listen to, and to discuss the problematic challenges of PD. This openness was refreshing and totally changed my view from past impression of their exclusive, defensive and rather ‘traditional’ views and approaches. There had been several ‘take home’ thoughts that would be good to mull over and think through more over the next year or so:
Participation is the new black: Technology is facilitating easier, fun and user-led ways for participation. But what is this really enabling? The public are becoming weary of tokenistic ways of participating in projects/decision-making, and that they expect it to be done well. This places more pressure on PD practitioners to ensure that those who are participating are clear in what they are ‘gaining’ or ‘benefiting’ from, and who are they representing/advocating…
Acceptance of complexity: Finally! What we’ve begun seeing is the acknolwedgement of PD (or, just design actually) being messy business. Literal, mechanical framing of design is problematic. Design is inherently complex, serendipitious, uncertain – if attempts were made to rigidly lock it down into a ‘method/ology’ (for it to be sanctioned as PD, for example), you can ‘kill’ what should be adaptive, organic, agile ways of engaging with a complex world. Those in PD are now on the same wavelength – yay! Penny made a really good point on how ‘emergence is hard to sell’ – so when design is based on the unknown and allowing the emergent to take place – how can other stakeholders understand the value of your involvement?
Tensions between user-initiated change and over-facilitation: There was interesting spectrum of papers that talked of projects where they were happy to let things unfold, to projects that had technology that over-facilitated the user-engagement. Interestingly, there were very few papers on the subject of mobilising users (of the Manzini kind) through peer-to-peer facilitation. Majority were ones where participation was actively sought and arranged. In the Service Design panel session, there was a good discussion on ownership, activism and empowerment – how do you catalyse / scaffold synergies for this to happen for true change to take place?
One thing that had really struck me was that we need to take these conversations out into other fields, rather than it remaining only in this PD / design field. Many of the issues driving this is concerns and passion for humanity, active citizenship, respect, social justice and empowerment – all that matters to every sector of our lives. Mariesa (from Inspire) and I had a good chat about this.
Ina Wagners closing key note was particularly interesting in this regard. She questioned what the politics and ‘utopian moments’ that PD is now moving towards. She introduced concepts of creating a ‘civil society’ where ‘residual categories’ (those who are usually marginalised – the very young, the very old, female, poor, disabled, low status groups) and to give voice to them through participation. In that sense, designers are also political and are moral agents, though she pointed out the logistical challenges of being involved in a project long-term – unless your position is institutionalised (eg. in a hospital or a particular organisation). Hence ‘fleeting’ dipping in-and-out of orgs/projects can’t achieve the change that are desired. I was also interested in how she talked about the ‘utopian moment’ – a horizon that is beyond reach, but within view – the creation of a vision/goal can be achieved by imagining an alternative future and distancing oneself from the constraints of the pragmatic and consensual.
Aylesbury Estate project
This project aims to preserve the oral histories, transitions and sense of place of its residents as the Estate goes through a process of regeneration. Teal, Claire, Joanna from the London College of Communication and myself ran a series of workshops with the residents to capture and share their stories.
I was amazed at how large the Aylesbury Estate was – its one of the biggest Estates in the UK! Apparently, the Estate is going to be knocked down and re-developed to improve facilities and house more people. This period of transition and re-development was considered a critical time to document and record the past and current life stories around the Estate, so it can be shared with others in the future.
The first workshop that Teal ran was with the Design Writing Criticism students from LCC. The students and residents took part in a breadmaking workshop as a communal activity to talk and share each of their stories. Some students brought their own cultural ingredients, like rosemary, raisins and cinnamon to make different kinds of bread. I thought that was an informal and inclusive way to ‘exchange’ knowledge, cultural practice, tradition and stories.
The second workshop continued the theme of food. We designed ‘invitations’ for residents to come to a story-telling session around food on special occasions. Everyone who attended had many stories to tell about food or special occasions. It was really interesting to hear how much times had changed since they were children (some participants were in their 80s!) particularly about what they ate and the lifestyles they had. I had designed ‘trigger’ cards of food as a way to facilitate the conversations, but its hard to know how effective they were. Many were so vocal and willing to tell us their stories anyway!
The third workshop extended both of these themes to capture the resident’s wishes for the future. The first session showed them the telling your story blog that Joanna designed. This was a great vehicle to demonstrate how their stories were captured and shared with others. It introduced them to this ‘new technology’, hopefully enabling them to tell their children, grand-kids, friends and relatives about Aylesbury Estate. Later, we asked them to write their wishes for the future on the cards I designed.
Some were quite hesitant but others were willing and there were very lovely thoughts being expressed in all of them. Later, they were clipped on to ribbons, like how christmas cards are displayed.
Bushfire and resilience
Our team, ‘Birds of a feather’ is partnering with Southern Otways Landcare Network in facilitating effective communication and planning strategies around bushfires. The Otway communities are particularly vulnerable to the kind of catastrophic fires that threatens the region next summer. The area is poor in communication infrastructure including radio, TV, internet and mobile coverage, making communities even more vulnerable and dependent upon their own resources and networks in the face of a bushfire event. The issue is not only related to infrastructure and communication technology, though these impact heavily on managing bushfires. The team have conducted an initial field visit to the Otways, met local residents and CFA volunteers. These discussion have identified several other issues, for example, influx of tourists and temporary residents in the local area which complicates the risks; false sense of security led by the belief that the CFA will come to the rescue; lack of multiple risk management plans in place (Plan A, B, C and so on). Some of these issues we have found echo a lot of the work that you have done already with the bushfire CRC.
Our aim is firstly to develop a heightened sense of bushfire risk among a ‘community of place’ (ie those who are located in the same geographical area) through a series of workshops. Our main methodology is the use of ’scenarios’ that are constructed by participants from the ground-up. Each individual’s situation and household context is different and the community themselves have the expert knowledge of the people, land, topography, vegetation, likely direction of the fire, access routes etc. We are going to pool this knowledge and develop a variety of scenarios that capture and illustrate potential risks that are specific to individual households and their local area. The collective pooling and sharing of knowledge is a way to ‘educate’ the residents who have little knowledge of the area. We also feel the ‘first-person’ account is a key aspect to how the scenarios are described and engaged with.
These risk-focused scenarios will then be the driver to discuss and brainstorm ideas on planning effective strategies to mitigate and manage the risks identified. Again, the emphasis here is active participation in generating the plans among neighbours, thereby strengthening networks and bonds within the community of place. We are also working on tapping into the networks of the temporary residents (holiday makers, weekenders from Melbourne etc) who have little knowledge of the landscape and awareness of the risks and bring this group together using the scenarios. We intend on having input from the fire authorities and individuals who have experienced bushfire as a way of bringing the stories and scenarios ‘to life’. We are hoping to commence the workshops in January 2010 and we are looking to expertise in the field who can assist and help us with this approach.
Our design project, which is currently underway with a community, utilises the ‘tools of the trade’ in communication design such as designing artefacts, mapping and visualisations, to firstly, bring a fractured community together around a common concern, highlight the risks that communities face, and then plan strategies to mitigate those risks. The photos show how the use of Playful Triggers was effective in pooling knowledge specific to a particular location. It shows how a group of people from a community of place, identified where houses are located, which households were permanent and temporary residents, those who had children and the likely direction of the fire. Undertaking this exercise was valuable to our research team who had no knowledge of the local area, but also for the participants as well. The Playful Triggers facilitated the revelation of knowledge that they each had, and it helped them make it explicit to us and to one another, to the point where one participants was amazed by how much local knowledge they actually had between them. Natural conversations flowed where certain geographical sites suddenly ’stood out’ as being conducive to build a bush bunker. This design approach empowered the community to plan and generate effective strategies themselves.
Further thoughts on participation
Leading from what Neal and I discussed during the writing of Fashion City for AGDA, a future paper that revolves around the idea of ‘participation’ had emerged. What is participation? We discussed Sander’s paper where she uses the analogy of cooking as a way of enabling creativity. On one end of the scale, there is a recipe to be followed that guarantees an effective outcome. In the middle, the recipe becomes tweaked and modified, and on the other end of the scale, it is recipe-less. Neal comments that on that end of the scale, the public would need to invest a great deal into it, therefore it is much harder. I questioned what the role of the designer is on that end of the scale, and perhaps the effort for the designer would be equally as hard. But how is this evaluated? When does this occur, when should it occur, and is this a ‘better’ model for design?
Then we discussed whether which end of the scale would enable participation, and which would be better? Neal sited Sanders when he argued that much of design is the ‘recipe’ model of telling the audience what to do. It was a form of designing that is closed and is a one-way monologue. The other end of the scale where it is more open-ended might appear to be a ‘better’ form of participation, but then we started questioning why?
I think there is a role for such models to exist in the world, and I would argue that art performs that role in society. Then Neal began stating how art and design is different, and he felt it was legitimate for someone like Sander’s to begin opening it up for designers to explore it. I think this is the value that Sanders brings, her work could be argued as things that artists do, but she frames it in a design discourse and thus forces designers to question what they do in relation to it.
During our discussion, we started then going deeper into why participation could be seen as important, and whether people participated in things anyway, irrespective of whether it was intended or not. We discussed the teapot in front of us, just a generic one made in China. The designer who designed this had embedded their cultural, social and economic values and heritage into the creation of this teapot, but how I create meaning from it is in its use. The way the colour had faded, the chips and kinks of it, the way the lid doesn’t quite sit properly etc, are all quirks that were not intended to be there, yet they are all features that make this teapot a teapot that is mine and familiar. I don’t like this teapot much, I use it because its the studio’s but if it had been given to me as a present, or I had actively purchased it, its value for me would be much higher. These values aren’t necessarily what the designer had given it.
This is the critique for ‘ambiguous’ and ‘open-ended’ designs. They claim how it can facilitate more meaning to be embedded into the object due to the ambiguity of the reference (ie maybe its not quite a teapot) and so it can allow the user to have different use/association with it. Even though this is acknowledged as being a different kind of association, and it may entice a creative engagement with its use, but is it better? Would it create more value for the user?
Here we talked about Luke and his anti-user stance. I’ve always listened to Luke because of his insistence that ‘trying hard to make it more appealing is off-putting’ kind of position had been provocative and it enabled me to question my position. Even though I think he contradicts himself or is in denial that he is subconsicously doing this anyway with his work. His position seems antithetical to Neal or I, but perhaps it is much closer than on first appearance.
I had read somewhere that the audience always participates – ie there is no such thing as a non-participating audience. A reception or interaction with anything require some form of participation, whether it is ignored or actively consumed. The telling-monologue model is still in this category So is the question what kind of participation is more appropriate/effective? Or, perhaps it is up to us all (designers + non-designers) to explore the whole spectrum of what could be possible?
Reflecting on Fashion City – learning from collaborative experimental design
You can download the paper from this link: http://research.agda.com.au/
When citing this article, please use:
Akama, Y & Haslem, N, 2007, ‘Reflecting on Fashion City – learning from collaborative experimental design’, Visual:Design:Scholarship, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 39-47.
keywords: participation, co-authorship, reflective practice, collaborative learning, relational aesthetic
Learning through designing is a common pedagogical model in design education. Many design institutions utilise studio-based teaching with design tools and methods facilitating students’ learning in a discovery-led way. This paper builds on the above model by examining the learning and discovery that took place that arose from a collaborative student design project named Fashion City. In contrast with most other learning models in undergraduate studio-based teaching, this project did not have a prescribed learning objective. Rather, it took an experimental approach to learn and discover from propositions, interventions, friction and failures. Instead of having a set objective, Fashion City evolved as a response to context, generated through the interactions and actions of a group of designers who all had developed research agendas. In this way Fashion City simply took a position of ’seeing what might happen’ when a group of graduate students collaboratively designed a project within a particular context.