Insights from the Design Society 9th SIG Design Theory Workshop

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The latest Design Society SIG Design Theory Workshop held two weeks ago in Paris. I only could attend one day, but have been quite impressed by the papers presented. A few insights* :

Anne-Françoise Schmid & Eswaran Subrahmanian presented an interdisciplinary research centre for productive biology, involving Carnegie Mellon University (USA) and INRA (France). Through this experiment, the team develops a “Non standard Design philosophy”. Their in-progress diamond-shaped diagram shows a matrix structure (primitives) and dynamic tensions (vectors for integration).

Mary Lou Maher (UNC Charlotte, USA) addressed the topic “Reasoning in the absence of goals”. She stressed on the difference between search and exploration, encouraging designers to shift from a predefined goal to intermediate steps, abstract structures for thinking. Curiosity, a behaviour that reduces novelty through exploration and learning, is the trigger to this attitude.

Georges Fadel (Clemson University, USA) views design as a science of complexity, aiming to create affordances rather than functions. While functions are one-way transformative processes, abstract and generic, affordances fall into perceptual psychology. They consider the complex designer/artefact/user/environment system. Affordances are –abilities, a matter of perception, concrete relation, relative to individuals. An insight for experience design ?

* I just realize quoting only American speakers… though unbiased !

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