Innovation Winter 2012: Designing Understanding

Page 1


Designing Understanding emotion





winter 2012


Our 33rd year of recognizing and promoting the most innovative, thought-provoking designs in the world. Call for Entries begins Dec. 3, 2012. For more information, visit




WINTER 2012 ®

“Abra-CAD-abra” zSpace designed by Whipsaw for InfiniteZ; More Showcase submissions on page 54.

Publisher Roxann Henze IDSA 555 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 P: 703.707.6000 x102 F: 703.787.8501

Executive Editor Mark Dziersk, FIDSA Managing Director Lunar | Chicago Advisory Council Gregg Davis, IDSA Alistair Hamilton, IDSA

Managing Editor & Designer Karen Berube K.Designs 3511 Broadrun Dr. Fairfax, VA 22033 P: 703.860.4411 Contributing Editor Jennifer Evans Yankopolus

Advertising Katie Fleger IDSA 555 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 P: 703.707.6000 x104 F: 703.787.8501


The quarterly publication of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Innovation provides in-depth coverage of design issues and long-term trends while communicating the value of design to business and society at large.

Annual Subscriptions Within the US $60 Canada & Mexico $75 International $110 Single Copies Fall/Yearbook All others

$35+ S&H $17+ S&H

designing understanding 18 Design Research Has Come a Long Way by Stephen B. Wilcox, FIDSA, Guest Editor

features 10 Expressing Brand Through a Product by Beyond Design Inc.

Patrons of Industrial Design Excellence investor IDEO, Palo Alto, CA; Shanghai, China; Cambridge, MA; London, UK; San Francisco; Munich, Germany; Chicago; New York

20 Use-Centered Design in the New World of Complex Design Problems by Charles L. Mauro, IDSA

14 Designing Emotion Bringing Experiences to Life

Jerome Caruso Design Inc., Lake Forest, IL Newell Rubbermaid, Atlanta, GA

24 Design and Understanding My Relationship with Karen by Dan Formosa

by Jill Klegin, IDSA and Danielle Caldwell, IDSA

50 Creating a Mindset for Innovation

28 Designer-Friendly User-Research Methods by Michael McCoy, IDSA

by Paul Skaggs, IDSA; Richard Fry, IDSA and Geoff Wright

In every issue

Masco, Taylor, MI Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH Webb deVlam Chicago, Chicago, IL Cultivator Altitude, Somerville, MA Cesaroni Design Associates Inc., Glenview, IL Continuum, Boston; Los Angeles; Milan, Italy;

31 The Renaissance of User-Interface Design by Michael Wiklund

by Mark Dziersk, FIDSA

34 Designing with People

by Michael Westcott, IDSA

Design Concepts, Madison, WI

by Jeremy Myerson

7 Design Defined

Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, TN

39 Wicked Problems: Design Approaches in Complex Health-Care Scenarios by Alastair S. Macdonald

by Mark Capper

Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA

8 Book Review by Scott Stropkay, IDSA 9 A Look Back by Carroll Gantz, FIDSA 54 Showcase 64 Signposts by Alistair Hamilton, IDSA

IDI/Innovations & Development Inc.,

43 Six Subversions of User-Centered Design by Graham Pullin 47 To Let: No Mutants, Murderers or Monsters by Dave Bramston, I/IDSA Statement of Ownership Publication: Innovation Publication Number: Vol. 31, No. 4 Filing Date: 9/4/2012 Issue Frequency: Quarterly No. of Issues Published Annually: 4 Annual Subscription Rate: $60 Domestically, $110 Internationally Mailing Address: 555 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 Mailing Address for Headquarters: Same as above Owner & Publisher: Industrial Designers Society of America, 555 Grove Street, Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170 Managing Editor: Karen Berube Issue Date for Circulation Data: 6/15/2012

QuarterLY oF tHe industriaL desiGners societY oF america innOVAtiOn Designing UnDerstAnDing

Designing Understanding emotion





winter 2012

4 From the Executive Editor 6 Business Concepts

Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China Crown Equipment, New Bremen, OH Dell, Round Rock, TX

Edgewater, NJ Lunar Design Inc., Palo Alto, CA Metaphase Design Group Inc., St. Louis, MO Nokia Design, Calabasas, CA Smart Design, New York; San Francisco; Barcelona, Spain Stanley Black & Decker, New Britain, CT Teague, Seattle, WA Tupperware, Worldwide

Ave. Year Single Total Number of Copies: 4,775 4,725 Paid/Requested outside county: 3,773 3,833 Paid in county: 0 0 Sales through dealers/carriers: 0 0 Other classes mailed through USPS: 308 295 Total paid: 4,081 4.128 Free distribution outside county: 0 0 Free distribution inside county: 0 0 Free distribution mailed through USPS: 0 0 Free distribution: 298 182 Total distribution: 4,379 4,310 Copies not distributed: 411 415 Total: 4,790 4,725

Cover photo: iStockphoto

winter 2012

Innovation is the quarterly journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the professional organization serving the needs of US industrial designers. Reproduction in whole or in part—in any form—without the written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The opinions expressed in the bylined articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of IDSA. IDSA reserves the right to decline any advertisement that is contrary to the mission, goals and guiding principles of the Society. The appearance of an ad does not constitute an endorsement by IDSA. All design and photo credits are listed as provided by the submitter. Innovation is printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. The use of IDSA and FIDSA after a name is a registered collective membership mark. Innovation (ISSN No. 0731-2334 and USPS No. 0016-067) is published quarterly by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)/Innovation, 555 Grove Street, Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170. Periodical postage at Sterling, VA 20164 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to IDSA/Innovation, 555 Grove Street, Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170, USA. ©2012 Industrial Designers Society of America. Vol. 31, No. 4, 2012; Library of Congress Catalog No. 82-640971; ISSN No. 0731-2334; USPS 0016-067.

Charter Patrons indicated by color.

For more information about becoming a Patron and supporting IDSA’s communication and education outreach, please contact Katie Fleger at 703.707.6000 x104.

Advertisers’ Index c2 2013 IDEA c3 IDSA District Conferences 1 LaFrance Corp. c4 Lunar

from the editor

The Magic of Understanding A ugie Picozza, the current director of design at Jarden, told me a story once. A number of years ago when he was heading design at Tupperware he was given an assignment to create a container for an emerging group: younger Japanese women in the work force, a new phenomena then. He thought of miso soup. Everyone loves miso soup. But after having the idea of creating a container for it, he researched it. Sure enough, according to the research, it turned out that working women in Japan never took miso soup for lunch. Disappointed, Augie was forced to cancel the project and soldier on. By great good fortune, shortly thereafter, he found himself sitting at a table of professional Japanese women at a conference. He asked this impromptu research group if it was true that they never took miso soup for lunch. “Why yes,” one of them replied. “It is.” He thought for a minute and then asked, “Why?” “Well,” she replied, “we don’t have anything to carry it in.” In design there exists a fine line between instinct and data, between smart contemplation and bold imagination, between the science of well-conducted research and the presentation of that data that informs and enables original ideas. Magic can occur with true understanding and interpretation. In this issue of Innovation, we are exposed to a great deal of understanding about the discipline of research, the research expert and the designer’s role in both conducting and interpreting data. Research is sometimes defined as a careful or diligent search, a studious inquiry or examination. It informs and makes clear needs and unspoken needs. Investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts sets the table for design, sheds a bright light on false assumptions, confirms instincts and provides for the revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts or the practical application of such new or revised theories or laws. Research, it can be argued, is a science. Design is clear-

ly guilty of adulterating research to suit its own purpose, but that is not necessarily wrong or a bad thing, depending on how deep one needs to go. This issue of Innovation is guest edited by Stephen Wilcox, FIDSA, principal of Design Science and a prominent expert in many different kinds of research. I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Steve as a colleague and friend for many years. A research pioneer in his own right, Steve brought true discipline and insightful research practice into the practice of industrial design through his background as a social scientist and curious intellect. He has collected an important and distinguished lineup of research experts and design thinkers. They offer many different interpretations and ask many thoughtful questions about the nature of true research understanding. For example, another simple way of defining research is the collecting of information about a particular subject. But let’s say that information relates to something unusual—a butterfly that is both black and white perhaps. The more complex question that Steve asks is, who is the right person to collect and interpret that information and what is the right technique? As illustrated in the story we began this article with, it is usually up to the insight of an individual, in this case Augie, and usually requires clever interpretation of data. But is that the purview of the researcher or the designer or both? Steve suggests that “today’s designer really needs two research-related skill sets that yesterday’s designer didn’t need: the skill of doing research and the skill of working with researchers who are not designers. I fear that sometimes the former can get in the way of the latter.” An interesting notion to ponder indeed. It is with deep gratitude and appreciation to Steve and all of the authors he has assembled here that we present this issue of Innovation. We hope you enjoy this peek into the field we call Designing Understanding. —Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, Innovation executive editor


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum

idsa dedicates this issue of Innovation to Bill Moggridge, FIDSA, 1943–2012.

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


B usiness Concepts

The Design of Business

—Michael Westcott, IDSA, president, DMI 6

www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Source: Mashable Business, Booz Allen


hen I was asked to share a column on the busiTop 10 Innovative Companies ness of design, in typical fashion, I thought I might turn the title on its head, offering instead “The Company R&D Spending Design of Business,” since I have spent most of my career 2011 As % of Sales designing business opportunities for myself, my companies $US Bil. Rank (Intensity) and my clients. From the beginning of my career, when the 1 Apple $2.4 53 2.2% early 1980s proved a challenging time to find a job, I discovered that finding clients in need of design proved a more 2 Google $5.2 26 13.6% fruitful strategy. It was that client work that ultimately helped 3 3M $1.6 86 5.3% me land a job with a consulting firm where I first experienced the power of design to change entire organizations. 4 Samsung $9.0 6 6.0% What I discovered was that my design education 5 GE $4.6 30 3.2% prepared me to ask better questions, listen and observe in ways that usually led to reframing the problems that clients 6 Microsoft $9.0 5 12.9% thought they wanted to solve. I found that organizations 7 Toyota $9.9 1 4.2% typically too narrowly defined their needs for a product or a service or a piece of communication by starting with what 8 P&G $2.0 72 2.4% tie is and with what their customers said they wanted, rather 8 IBM $6.3 17 5.9% than using a more creative problem definition and solution approach to look at what if. These experiences and the 10 Amazon $2.9 48 6.1% skills to synthesize, design, prototype, iterate and deliver results are common to many designers, but are CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership fast becoming the most important competencies for many enlightened competency of the successful enterprise of the future. organizations that share a common imperative: Innovate or die. —2010 Global CEO Study, IBM Global Business Services Because of this innovation imperative and that some of the yet they continue to underperform more nimble and often most valuable companies on the planet (Apple, Google, design-led competitors who are changing industries from the Samsung, GE) have made design a core competency in inside out and outside in. The rapid pace of change every their businesses, design thinking has now captured the industry faces can only be harnessed by an equally rapid and attention and the imagination of many CEOs. This repreflexible approach to innovation. That’s where we come in. sents a truly exciting opportunity to define a new future for This impact of design-led organizations is obvious in a design. An opportunity to turn design from an interdepartrecent BoozAllen study of the world’s most innovative commental stop in the process of product development and panies. Its list of top innovators demonstrates in clear terms communication into a core competence for business that that investment in R&D does not equal innovation. Welldrives innovation, fuels startups, helps define strategy and practiced design management makes companies more solves problems large and small. Design thinking is helping efficient when it comes to innovation. And innovation is a many companies move beyond the linear thinking that has critical competence for survival in the 21st century. That’s shackled business to 20th-century industrial norms. why designing business, and more importantly, health care, Forbes magazine confirms this phenomenon with its list education and even government, are the next frontiers for of top R&D driven companies. Company after company on design thinking and designers in the future. the list are investing as much as 19 percent of sales on R&D,

design defi ned

Beyond Designing with Emotion


his is a great era for industrial design. The role of design is expanding beyond the design of products and systems, and design is now synonymous with innovation and creativity. Design is being redefined in another way as well. Emerging research in neuroscience, psychology and anthropology demonstrates that design plays an important role in influencing consumer decision making. It is important that designers and design researchers understand the resulting implications and opportunities. Research in the field of neuroscience reveals that people perceive design through the five key senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. Sensorial input is transduced into signals and transported to the brain. The brain routinely processes these stimuli beneath the level of conscious thought. Because these thought processes occur in the unconscious, consumers have limited awareness of these thoughts and often cannot directly articulate the perception, meaning and emotion conveyed through design. When engaging with a brand or product, an emotional response is produced in the unconscious mind. These interactions elicit a variety of emotions ranging from a negative state of dissatisfaction to a positive state of delight. Experiences with products and brands are stored in memory where they are linked to the emotions associated with those experiences. These unconscious memories and emotions become a part of people’s impressions and gut feelings and are evoked in response to visual and other sensory cues. These emotions are later recalled from memory when people make decisions about products and brands. Emotions linked to past experiences play a strong role in decision making. Neuroscientists and psychologists have shown that people rely on the emotions that accompany their memories to guide future decisions; they unconsciously evoke these stored memories and use them as a compass. Neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio have shown that without these emotions and memories people are unable to make even the most fundamental decisions. Therefore, it is important that consumers have a holistically positive experience with products and brands. Negative experiences should be quickly corrected so they do not impact consumer decision making for years to come.

Design can also evoke emotion, such as aggression or calmness, fear or pleasure, through direct aesthetic interpretation. We do not completely understand why some forms seem to innately provoke an emotional response, such as why the golden rectangle has universal appeal. Some researchers believe these interpretations are best understood in the context of evolutionary anthropology and are linked to survival and reproduction. Emotion is also generated through the interpretation of the form within the culture. Often these expressions come through the use of metaphor, personality, humor and other expressive characteristics and are commonly based on culturally specific semiology. The Alessi corkscrew shaped like a nun evokes emotion in this way. One of the most important roles of design is in the formation of self-identity. Consumers, often unconsciously, choose products and brands that support their concept of self, defining their identity within their culture. When consumers develop strong bonds between products and their self-identity, they are willing to go to great lengths to sustain the relationship. A recent multiyear study of over 4,000 respondents published in the Journal of Marketing found that these attachment bonds offer significant benefits. Consumers are more loyal to these products, more likely to pay a premium for them and more likely to spend their own time and resources to promote them. It is exciting that we can now evaluate the strength of these attachment bonds to product design through specialized concepttesting methods. The role of design in evoking emotion, creating meaning and influencing consumer decision making is not new. Designers have been intuitively aware of the impact of their work for some time. What is new is the validation of these beliefs and a deeper understanding of the psychological, anthropological and neurological implications of design. As research continues to emerge and the implications begin to shape, the practice of design will become more multidisciplinary in nature and more tightly linked to science and social science. —Mark Capper, president, Kompas Strategy

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


book review

China’s Design Revolution


he tension between individual identity and collective achievement is a classic struggle that Lorraine Justice, FIDSA keenly observes at a national scale in China’s Design Revolution. In a fascinating and concise study, Justice interprets the historical and philosophical underpinnings of China’s modern design culture and, building from that foundation, illustrates the government’s plans to use creativity and design as a core tenent in its strategy to achieve global superpower status. Justice’s mission in this book, like the mission she undertook as the director of the School of Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is to help build bridges of understanding between the East and West. By There is describing the forces shaping China, she frames a landscape of opportunity for companies and institutions both inside and outside the region. She is candid about the risks too, helping readers consider the complexities of competition and collaboration in a world that is inextricably intertwined. As a design educator with an interest in cultural anthropology, Justice explores China’s history and culture of creativity and innovation. She explains a society where Confucian ideals of harmony, context and incremental improvement compete with Western values and the West’s appreciation for bold individually driven innovations. As the historical timeline unfolds, she describes the ideas that drove Mao Zedong and his creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Here you see the profound effect the Communist regime had on its people’s worldview, attitudes and behaviors. She details the living experience of each of the four generations that have occurred since the birth of the PRC in 1949: the First Generation, or the “Lost Generation,” who were stripped from school in the

Cultural Revolution; the Second Generation, whose identities were partly shaped by Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up period” policies; the generation now in their 30s and 40s, known as the “Third Generation,” who are shaping and being shaped by state-inspired capitalism; and the “Fourth Generation,” which builds the story to the current day. Justice’s main focus in the book is on the modern world and the Third Generation. This generation is worldly and confident. They are changing the government’s view on intellectual property, transitioning businesses to private ownership, designating cities as

in fact no such thing as art for art’s sake.

—Mao Zedong innovation centers and building over 400 design programs in Chinese universities (eight times more programs than in the US) to educate designers and creative problem solvers on a scale the world has never seen. She describes China as heading toward a creative inflection point. She sees this generation beginning to focus on itself. It’s no longer about emulation; a new aesthetic is emerging, a new confidence, a new self-image. China is the world’s fastest growing market and Chinese consumers are beginning to want design that is sensitive to both its past and its future. China’s Design Revolution is part history, part prediction and part advice. In it Justice helps us appreciate the political forces that shape people and their ideas. She inspires us to think more deeply about the way creativity is measured and valued in a culture. And importantly, she reminds us that our futures are inextricably tied, so we’d be wise to design a better future together. —Scott Stropkay, IDSA


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org


he IDSA 2013 annual conference next August will not be the first time industrial designers have descended on Chicago en masse. Sixty years ago, in 1952, the Society of Industrial Designers (SID) held its annual conference at the renowned Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago. SID, a predecessor to IDSA, had been founded in New York in 1944, eight years earlier, by 15 of the most famous industrial designers of the day, many now among our profession’s founders. At the closing dinner ceremony, the accompanying photograph was taken of about 125 attendees, including the featured speakers on stage, all, to the best of our knowledge, are now deceased but who then comprised a who’s who of industrial designers. The Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago opened in 1926 and debuted its famous Pump Room restaurant in 1938. For many years it was a hub for Hollywood stars, such as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s popular song “My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)” included among his many variations of the lyrics, the line “Chicago is the jumpin’ Pump Room.” Younger generations may know it as the Chicago hotel to which Cary Grant (as New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill) tracked Eva Marie Saint (as industrial designer Eve Kendall) in the 1959 film North by Northwest. The hotel was recently renovated in 2011 and renamed the Public Chicago Hotel. Nevertheless, the Ambassador East was the postWorld War II place to be. Chicago was the home of a large contingent of industrial designers, members of both SID and the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI), IDSA’s other predecessor. During the 1950s, eight of IDI’s annual conferences were held at the Ambassador. IDI had just, in

Obtained from the effects of Jon Hauser. Photo: Jack Jenkins, Chicago

Chicago Redux 1951, absorbed the Chicago Society of Industrial Designers (CSID) founded by Dave Chapman, FIDSA and others in 1938. That same year IDI initiated its first annual national industrial design awards, which continued until both organizations merged to become IDSA in 1965. Chicago designers were featured in a major 1956 Industrial Design magazine article. Chicago was also the site of MoMA’s annual Good Design program from 1950 to 1955 in collaboration with the Chicago Merchandise Mart. In 1950 the Art Institute of Chicago had put the spotlight on Italian design with its Italy at Work exhibit, and MoMA followed in 1952 with Olivetti: Design in Industry. Industrial design was becoming international in scope. The caption below identifies 40 SID members based on eye-straining scrutiny by some who were around at the time (Budd Steinhilber, FIDSA, Paul Specht, FIDSA and myself), descendants (Ken Schory Jr., FIDSA and Charles Myers, son of Stowe Myers, FIDSA), and Vicki Matranga, H/IDSA, IDSA’s very own Chicagoan history detective. We exchanged email for several weeks, comparing our guesses and comparing the images to Vicki’s files. Where we fully agreed on identities, we did not use a question mark. But on others, where we were fairly certain but still had doubts, we used a question mark. There is always room for doubt due to the poor resolution of some images, the youthful age of some that we only knew later in life, the angle of the comparison of photos, the likelihood that certain individuals could or would have attended the meeting based on their known history, etc. We know of no one alive who was there as an eyewitness. Biographies of many attendees can be found on the IDSA Design History Section Web page (http://www.idsa. org/sections/design-history). —Carroll Gantz, FIDSA

01 Henry Dreyfuss, FIDSA?, 02 Walter Dorwin Teague, FIDSA?, 03 Raymond Loewy, FIDSA?, 04 Ted Clement, FIDSA, 05 Nolan Rhoades?, 06 Forest Wilson?, 07 Montgomery Ferar, 08 Lionel Algoren, FIDSA?, 09 Stowe Myers, FIDSA, 10 Peter Müller-Munk, FIDSA, 11 Ray Smith, 12 Robert Paul Karlen, 13 Edward Russell Swann, 14 Henry Glass, FIDSA, 15 Viktor Schreckengost, L/IDSA, 16 Gerry Zanck?, 17 William Saenger?, 18 Richard Latham, FIDSA?, 19 Jack Little, 20 John Carlson, 21 Bruce Beck?, 22 William Goldsmith, FIDSA, 23 Bill Winterbottom, 24 Fema Winterbottom, 25 Philip McConnell?, 26 Ray Spilman, FIDSA, 27 Russel Wright, FIDSA, 28 Clarence (Cal) Graser?, 29 Dave Chapman, FIDSA, 30 G. Harold Hart, 31 F. Eugene Smith, FIDSA, 32 Whitney Stuart?, 33 Sam Fahnestock, 34 Egmont Arens, FIDSA?, 35 John Richard (Jack) Morgan, 36 Mrs. Ken Schory Sr., 37 Ken Schory Sr., 38 Harold Van Doren, 39 Onnie Mankki, 40 Jean Reinecke, FIDSA I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


By Beyond Design Inc.


Twitter: @beyonddesigninc



Expressing Brand through a Product


ach day the market is flooded with new products, services and ideas. To avoid commoditization, it is critical to integrate your brand into the product design. Every brand has a fundamental need to connect with its target market and express its company’s core values and beliefs through unique

value propositions and experiences. The brand, however, is the most intangible element of any product or service. Visual brand language is a core part of product design where the abstract and experiential part of a brand is cohesively communicated through physical elements. The key to a successful visual brand language is in efficiently combining the tangible elements with the abstract attributes.

Products and services provide value through every aspect of their design: the look, feel, touch, sound, use of materials, overall perception, etc. Brand consistency is key when attempting to increase brand loyalty. With the right visual brand language, you can take abstract identities and articulate them in current and future products in a systematic way. When done right, the identity and brand message become evident to the end user, and you create an emotional connection between the user and the brand. In addition, a proper visual brand language helps optimize product-line strategies, reduces manufacturing costs, shortens product development schedules and enables companies to bring their products to market faster. The Strategic Pyramid You can create a visual brand language through a four-stage hierarchical process known as the strategic pyramid, which consists of the brand personality, product attributes, design principles and signature elements. The strategic pyramid is used to create a style guide. This guide is not a stencil but


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

A proper visual brand language helps optimize product-line strategies, reduces manufacturing costs, shortens product development schedules and enables companies to bring their products to market faster.

rather a reference system to help designers and other individuals within an organization better understand the brand personality, brand heritage, product attributes, design principles and signature elements of the brand design.

The brand personality encompasses the whole experience and the integrated mindset of an organization and should be communicated through all aspects, including employee actions, product offerings and company communications. It gives a brand dimension and depth and connects customers emotionally to the products and services. This personality must reflect the perceptions, motivations and values of its target market. Product attributes provide a visual landscape based on the brand personality that describes the uniqueness of products. They are characteristics by which products are identified and differentiated, such as being durable, secure or dynamic. Design principles provide specific directions and objectives a designer can follow while designing a product or a platform. They describe the product attribute as an actionable item. This is the stage where the abstract elements of the brand are converted into principles for tangible articulation. The signature elements are a series of toolkits used in creating and translating the visual brand language. They include character lines; color, material and finish; logo; user interface; light; and sound that support the attributes of a brand. Communicating Brand Experience and Message Translating a brand identity into a product design comes with a number of challenges. One of the most difficult is being able to implement a consistent look across different platforms, product proportions and structural materials. Creating a road map for the visual brand language will enable designers to define their product position, which will be all encompassing with past, present and future product attributes. This is often an evolutionary process, and as designers it is important to show a vision of an integrated line of products to the client to better realize the end goal. Understanding the product development process and brand expansion strategies will help in developing a systematic execution plan. Often, the easiest and most economical solutions to implement are those that involve simple color, material and finish, especially when trying to unite a product family line without making any tooling investments. For instance,

The strategic pyramid helps to create a visual brand language through a four-stage hierarchical process, which consists of the brand personality, product attributes, design principles and signature elements.

a color-material-finish strategy was created for Zebra Technologies’ new line of printers by developing a simple, warm color palette with three shades of gray and a yellow accent color. The shades of gray help to break up the form and create visual interest, while the yellow accent highlights key touch points. The accent color was also selected because of its visual association with attributes that define the client: rugged, industrial and performance-driven. With one consistent visual message, a unified look was established throughout the product line. Another challenge is one of manufacturing costs, processes, and the materials and finishes that can be applied to a product design. We developed a platform strategy for the visual brand language for the Remington Flex 360°, a global line of men’s shavers with a flex and pivot technology. The design strategy focused on the creation of a modular platform that shares 70 percent of its components across three tiers of units. Each unit differs in features offered and is positioned at different price points. Adding different electronic features, materials and finishes enabled the product line to be streamlined for mass production and positioned with low-tier, mid-tier and high-tier shavers. The subtle detail changes to the color, bezel design and control features provide just enough differentiation to establish a product line with minimal manufacturing investment.



bra n d expressio n

A platform strategy for the visual brand language was implemented for the Remington Flex 360째. The subtle detail changes to the color, bezel design and control features provide just enough differentiation to establish a product line with minimal manufacturing investment.

One of the most distinguishing and visually significant features of a brand is its logo. A well-conceived logo that is crafted with consideration to size, placement and color, material and finish will substantially enhance the brand perception and positioning. For example, the Brunswick Gold Crown V pool table incorporates a cast aluminum logo on all four corners of the table to create a higher perception of value and to represent the classic Brunswick logo in greater detail. This simple addition not only communicates the quality and craftsmanship of the table but also reinforces the Brunswick brand to the end user through sight and tactile feel. Depending on the complexity of your product or its intended user experience, the essence of a brand must be strategically articulated within the overall solution, not just through its physical manifestation. For instance, if a product has a user interface, the visual brand language should also be expressed and integrated in the interface to provide a consistent message. The visual brand language should provide the basis for your product development


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

guidelines and enable designers to develop solutions that are in alignment with the brand and its core values. It should permit consistent signature design elements to be repeated, while also enabling designers to develop solutions that accommodate variation and constantly push the limits of the brand. As product designers, it is important to understand that maintaining or building the distinction of a brand is extremely critical and that the brand personalities must add value and differentiation to a client’s product or service. One example of how great product design has differentiated itself since its inception is Ovation Guitars. If you’re a guitar lover (and maybe even if you’re not) and saw a roundback guitar or gull-wing head, you would recognize it as an

Ovation merely because of the shape. The company has positioned its brand as providing superior projection and durability through its bowl-shaped body. If you remove the logo from the product, you still know it’s an Ovation—this is the goal of any brand. By distinguishing itself from the competition, the brand becomes recognized based solely on the product design. By articulating the meaning and essence of your brand and communicating it through the product design, you can successfully provide timeless and effective solutions. The way in which we define the final design’s functionality, experience, look, feel and perception can all help to communicate the brand values and, in the end, fully express and deliver the entire brand experience and message. n

A visual brand language can be developed either at a product level (e.g., a refrigerator) or a platform level (e.g., a cooling technology), all the while taking into consideration the business offerings and brand positioning (e.g., home appliances). Understanding the product development process and brand expansion strategies will help in developing a systematic execution plan.



By Jill Klegin, IDSA and Danielle Caldwell, IDSA n


Jill Klegin and Danielle Caldwell are industrial designers at Hallmark Cards, Inc. They collaborate with innovation teams to seamlessly integrate strategy, design, research and engineering throughout the product development process.

Bringing Experiences to Life




reeting cards cannot iron clothes, make toast or vacuum a carpet. So why have so many people purchased them over the years? Hallmark’s products are not designed to solve functional problems; they are designed to satisfy emotional needs—which extend well beyond ink on paper.

www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

As industrial designers at Hallmark, we collaborate with a variety of creative disciplines—artists, designers, writers, engineers, etc.—to bring sentimental objects and experiences to life. We looked back at several products and identified 11 ways to empathize with people and help them tap into and express their feelings. This is not an official company formula, just observations from two young industrial designers in product development. However, we hope these ideas will inspire you to develop products and services in your industry that connect with people on an emotional level. 1. Leave Space. People become engaged in an experience when parts of it are intentionally undefined. Arguably, one of the most essential parts of a greeting card is the space for a person’s signature. A simple signature transforms a manufactured object into a personally crafted message for a certain someone and the unique relationship the giver and receiver share. The giver can write a message, draw a picture or forego the signature all together. The blank space will accommodate whatever interaction is desired. What can you eliminate from your design that will encourage people to engage with it? 2. Consider Relationships. The power of relationships can elevate seemingly simple objects to something more meaningful. We’ve observed this through people’s stories about how products have bridged a gap in their relationships. Recordable Storybooks, a book that records a person reading a story, have helped families feel more connected with an absent or distant relative. When a parent is out of town on a business trip or serving on active duty, for instance, hearing

that familiar voice reading the story provides comfort and becomes a tangible, loving stand-in for those back at home. How can your designs represent a bond between people? 3. Map Experiences. Build a deeper understanding of people’s emotional needs to develop more meaningful product experiences. Combine research, writing and design to synthesize data and real-life stories into compelling narratives that resonate with your internal team. If the team is still struggling to see the emotional aspects of a situation, work with people who have a natural ability to tap into and articulate the human condition. Our researchers do this by challenging us to read between people’s words and actions, while our creative writers come to the rescue by helping the team to integrate subtle nuances that ensure the stories told internally reflect the reality of people’s lives. As designers, we collaborate to convert these stories into visual dialogue through sketching, prototyping and role-playing scenarios to foster empathy among the team. How can you immerse your team in an experience that enables them to tune in emotionally and create more relevant products? 4. Infuse Warmth. Integrate art and design to add warmth and life into stylistic decisions. Work holistically to combine various elements, such as materials, form and carefully crafted words and imagery, to activate feelings of attachment between people and objects. Borrow ideas and tools from other disciplines. Hallmark’s diverse creative environment naturally lends itself to the cross-pollination of craft aesthetics and design techniques. Take, for example, Hallmark’s Signature Collection card line. These new cards offer sophisticated designs with beautiful papers, rich textures and embellishments. The tone of the line creates a feeling of warmth and freshness with a more dimensional aesthetic. What techniques can you employ to make your designs signal a human touch?

Interactive Storybuddies come to life and respond when they hear key phrases from their books. Design and technology combine to create a magical experience for kids through the tradition of story time. I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


emotional design

5. Activate Memories. Design experiences that evoke familiar situations with iconic elements. Sound Cards, which play a song when opened, have the ability to transport people back in time. Music has the power to conjure fond memories—such as the spirit of an era, a place or a moment in a relationship—in a warm and inviting manner, offering recipients the temporary ability to escape the present. How can you provide people the opportunity to connect with the past? 6. Design Personality. Leverage capabilities to give character to inanimate objects. We combine our design expertise and technology to develop character attributes. For example, some of our plush characters sing, dance and respond to capture people’s attention and provide entertainment. However, what’s most interesting to us isn’t how the plush interacts with people, but how people interact with the plush. These lively characters often inspire people to sing and dance along with them. Can you find subtle points in your product experience to invite play?


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

7. Tell Stories. Use stories to create deep context around objects or experiences. Stories provide powerful metaphors that help people relate to situations and find meaning in their lives. At Hallmark, people’s lives and relationships provide the context, and we offer the emotional artifacts that complement them. Keepsake Ornaments illustrate how people collect artifacts that assemble larger stories. Take a look at a family’s Christmas tree and you can tell what they value most. Keepsake Ornaments bring everything people love to the tree, from hobbies and interests to life’s milestones (big and small)—perfect to remind them of memories with family and friends. What do your designs say about a person’s life story? 8. Amplify Gestures. Observe a meaningful behavior and explore ways to amplify or enhance the experience. When observing ways that kids greet each other, we noticed smiles, nodding, raising an eyebrow and even some fist bumping. The team was intrigued by these instinctive acts and explored ways to

Team members work together to create new ideas. Left to right: Tim Patch, Alexandra Sperrazza, Max Younger, IDSA, Danielle Caldwell, IDSA, Jill Klegin, IDSA and Rob Langley

dition into the digital world, people can more easily invite others to participate; share details about who, when and where; and mail cards and other gifts. This online Web service was designed to fit into a person’s routine. It tracks responses and the progress of participants and provides an easy way for everyone involved to communicate with each other. How can you bring an old tradition into a new space and bring ease and convenience to people’s lives? 10. Imitate Nature. Borrow cues from the natural world. If people get even the slightest hint that something is alive, they are instinctively drawn to it. Blooming Expressions is a flower inside a vase that reveals a heartfelt message through the drama of the petals unfolding. The team explored how people respond to fresh flowers from bouquet to wastebasket, and the engineers who developed the movement even studied time-lapse videos of flowers to perfect the experience. The team members then challenged themselves to preserve what people love about flowers in a new experience. Even though it is artificial, its imitation of a petal’s movement is surprisingly soft and lifelike. How can nature inspire your designs?

enhance the significance of these affirmative gestures. Thus was born Text Bands, wristbands that enable kids to exchange short messages by bumping fists with other wearers. What are some human behaviors you’ve noticed that might inspire a new experience? 9. Extend Traditions. As physical and digital worlds blur, ground people in sentimental traditions to minimize complexity. Card showers, a tradition of sending a large number of greeting cards to a single person or group, has been popular for years. However, the organization of such an undertaking typically relied on things such as word-of-mouth, community newspapers and bulletin boards to spread the message. By extending this tra-

11. Live it. Establish an internal culture of compassion. It’s not enough to design emotional experiences; you must adapt your work culture to live them. At Hallmark, we sincerely live our brand and operate with the belief that we are doing good in the world. We celebrate each other with gifts, cards and cake. People bring their whole selves—personal and professional—to work. It’s not uncommon for people to offer personal life stories in meetings for the benefit of the team. Hallmarkers genuinely care about people, and many invest in their communities through volunteer efforts. So if you want to create emotional experiences, be emotionally in touch. How can you place yourself in your consumers’ world, listen to their stories, observe their behavior and appreciate the spectrum of emotional needs that inspire great designs? n Grab N Gab games get everyone talking. Their simple form and unique designs invite play for people of all ages.

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


designing understa ndin g

Design Research Has


appreciate the opportunity to put something together on the topic of design research. I’ve been at it for awhile. In 1984 when teaching psychology at Franklin and Marshall, a small college in Pennsylvania, I came up with what everybody I knew thought was a lunatic idea: to work in industrial design. I faced

a few minor barriers, though: I had no background whatsoever in design, I knew virtually nothing about it, and the only jobs I’d ever had were either teaching psychology or doing construction work (which I used to get through college). However, it seemed to me that a psychologist could find something useful to do in the world of industrial design given that products are used by humans. I figured, for example, that there was probably a need for technical information about the intended users of products that could lead to better design. That seemed logical, anyway.

It was at least logical enough (in combination with my willingness to work cheap) to get a job at HLB (may it rest in peace). Once at HLB, I discovered that not only were designers failing to avail themselves of information that was potentially relevant to what they were working on, but that they didn’t even know how to do the simplest research regarding potential product users. Thus, there was certainly an unmet need. However, although I had the research skills and the knowledge base, I didn’t have any idea about how to provide information in a form that designers could actually use. That I had to learn, with a lot of help from a lot of very generous and patient designers. I hate to think of the first reports I produced. The problem with academics, you see, at least in psychology, is that they’re trained to create documents that can only be read by the two or three other people in the world who are working on the same things they are. Well, here I am coming on 30 years later, and I’m still struggling with the same two problems: how to acquire relevant information about the people who use products and how to present that information so designers can use it effectively.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

That’s what this issue is about. I’ve gathered up a few people I admire and asked them to provide some pearls of wisdom on this topic of research to support design. They fall into two groups: Americans and Brits. The Americans—Charles Mauro, IDSA, Dan Formosa, Michael McCoy, IDSA and Michael Wiklund—I’ve known and learned from for many years. They all have played major roles in determining how research fits into industrial design, and all have produced an impressive body of design and research work. Back in the ’80s, as I started learning more about design, I began to find other oddballs like myself who were doing design research. They included a couple of other Ph.D. psychologists who, I found, predated me (damn!): Ron Sears, IDSA and Liz Sanders, both of whom began their careers in design at Richardson Smith. They also included the four Americans who’ve contributed to this issue and who represent three different approaches to design research: starting with a research background and figuring out how to work with designers (Wiklund), starting

By Stephen B. Wilcox, FIDSA Steve Wilcox is a principal and the founder of Design Science in Philadelphia, which provides design research, human factors and related consulting services for new product development for companies such as Emerson, J&J, Abbott, Baxter and Philips. He has published over 60 articles and book chapters and is the co-author (with Michael Wiklund) of Designing Usability into Medical Products (2005).

Come a Long Way with a design background and getting additional education in research (Formosa and Mauro), and starting with a design background and developing and acquiring research methods from a design point of view (McCoy). I think it’s fair to call all four of them gurus; I hope they don’t mind. In the meantime, I’ve been following some really exciting advances going on in the UK that don’t seem to be on the radar screen of the US design community. The UK is turning out a lot more designers per capita than we are in the US. It may be that the density of designers requires them to be more creative about what design applies to, causing design to become infused into more areas. Or maybe our British colleagues are just a little more willing to try something new. The breadth of the problems being tackled by industrial designers in the UK is striking. Thinking this would be a good opportunity to showcase some of that work, I asked a group of especially interesting folks from the UK to describe the work they’re doing: Jeremy Myerson, Alastair Macdonald, Graham Pullin and David Bramston, I/IDSA. All of them, it turns out, have academic affiliations, which wasn’t intentional, and all have been doing very creative work and written prolifically about it. As the various articles in this issue indicate, design research has come a long way. When I arrived on the scene, just about everybody identified conceptual design as the first phase of design. Now just about everybody identifies research as the first phase of design. So lots of design research is being done, and our methods continue to get better. I want to close, though, by mentioning one thing that I think continues to be a source of difficulty. Today’s designer really needs two research-related skill sets that yesterday’s designer didn’t need: the skill of doing research and the skill of working with researchers who are not designers. I fear that sometimes the former can get in the way of the latter. The difficulty is in figuring out which kind of research the designer should do and which kind of research the designer should expect a research partner to do. Where

the designer gets into trouble is in overestimating the role that the designer’s own research can play. Those of us with scientific backgrounds learn rigorous methods for squeezing out the error from our research. It requires such rigor—born of a skeptical stance toward information—for research to be used to drive corporate decision making (as opposed to generating ideas, informing the design, etc.), particularly when the people who run corporations tend to have quantitative backgrounds of one sort or another. This isn’t just a matter of quantitative research versus qualitative research, a market-research distinction that doesn’t really apply, in my opinion, to design research; it’s a matter of scientific rigor, a rigor that requires scientific training to achieve. Thus, to learn to do research with real scientific rigor, the designer really has to become a scientist as well as a designer. But I don’t think it makes sense to try to make designers into scientists (with the exception of some unusual people who can become both) because the skepticism required of scientists probably isn’t a good thing for maintaining the creativity and innovation of design. The fact is, though, that some designers, like other people, suffer from the human affliction of thinking that what they do is really hard and what everybody else does is pretty easy, and, therefore, get into trouble from an inappropriate application of the I-can-do-that attitude. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a strong advocate of designers doing research. My point is that there’s also design research that requires people with true scientific training. I’ll also add, in the spirit of fairness, that researchers are probably worse than designers vis-á-vis the I-can-do-that syndrome, particularly when it comes to presenting information. (Can’t everyone see the patterns in tables of numbers?) While I certainly think there’s a need for dedicated researchers in design, there’s just as much need for design in research as there is for research in design. I hope that this issue provides a productive addition to this ongoing discussion of design research—where it’s been, where it’s headed and how we ought to do it. n

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


By Charles L. Mauro, IDSA n Twitter: @PulseUX



Charles Mauro is president of MauroNewMedia, a consulting firm specializing in usability engineering and userinterface design founded in 1975. He has worked with many leading corporations and startups covering a wide range of industry sectors and been retained as an expert witness in over 50 major cases covering UX and product design-patent litigation. Early in his career he worked for design pioneers Henry Dreyfuss, FIDSA and Raymond Loewy, FIDSA. Emily Fisher, a design research associate at MauroNewMedia, contributed to this article.

User-Centered Design in the New World of Complex Design Problems


ser-centered design has traditionally focused on optimizing the user experience through the application of relatively simple research methodologies, including anthropometry, rudimentary task analysis, user-profile development and informal usability testing of simple product mock-

ups. Over the last 70 years, these types of research methodologies produced innovations that improved the basic aesthetic and ergonomic performance of products and contributed to the business success of many companies large and small. Traditional UCD Research Methods Anthropometry

Task analysis

User testing

Formally simple design problems All charts: Š MauroNewMedia, Inc. 2012, all rights reserved


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Aesthetic and ergonomic performance improvement

This simple form of user-centered design goes back to the earliest days of industrial design, characterized most directly by the work of Henry Dreyfuss, FIDSA and others. It worked well for product design problems that focused on traditional products where the design professional had direct access to the information required to solve the problem, understood the actual design problem and had sufficient grasp of the methods required to create effective solutions. Decision science classifies these problems as simple compared to problems found, for example, in the hard and social sciences that are defined as complex. Designers largely have had minimal exposure to technically complex problems like those faced, for instance, by physicists, mathematicians or even social scientists. This is all about to change. In the new post-industrial landscape, a new type of design problem is rapidly surfacing that industrial designers, architects, graphic designers—generally, designers of all forms—are being exposed to that is unlike anything experienced before. It is a problem that is quickly changing the nature of what designers do and how we help clients achieve success in an increasingly complex and competitive global landscape. This change is driven by technologi-

cal trends that the design professions have largely failed to detect: connectedness, virtual migration and appization. These trends loom large in terms of their impact on fundamental design problems and on the types of user-centered research that will ensure innovation and quality user experiences in the future. Connectedness Over the next 15 years, the number of products that will be connected to one another is staggering. Recent projections indicate hundreds of billions. In this context, a product means almost anything that is technology based, plus many organically based things in the world around us. Examples include an astounding range of everyday things starting with your toothbrush and extending to your automobile. In fact, it is certain that nearly everything that is based on technology and is involved in some form of user engagement will be connected to the larger global network of other products, services and systems. Some of these connections will take place in straightforward ways, such as TCP/IP networks, the so-called Internet of Things ( innov/IoT_IBSG_0411FINAL.pdf), but also in much less obvious ways through object recognition and detection systems, acoustic fields, motion sensors and a range of sensor combinations yet to be used but already well understood. Anything that can be detected in our environment can be networked either passively (without approval) or actively (with consent of some type). Even today farmers in Sweden have herds of cows connected to the Internet through embedded Wi-Fi devices ( the-internet-of-things-infographic/). What gets connected is directly relevant to what we design and how we employ advanced forms of user-centered design research. Surprisingly, what we think of today as computers will be the smallest category of connected products. Consumer products (everyday things) will be the largest category of connected devices several orders of magnitude higher than computers. The design of these connected everyday things demands new forms of user-centered design research, some of which are currently available and others that are yet to be developed. It will require not only local product

Connectedness: Traditional devices by category that will be networked over the next 10-15 years. Traditional StandAlone Products

The Internet of Things

Computer clients

Computer clients

Hand-held devices

Hand-held devices





Home appliances

Home appliances

Pallets / cases

Pallets / cases

Consumer products

Consumer products

Smallest number

Largest number

knowledge (what the thing you are designing does) but knowledge of the vast and teeming field of other products to which your product will be connected. In this regard, product design becomes a first-order process design problem where designers must consider not only what happens between a product and the user of the product, but also what happens in the connectedness of the product with other products. Traditional user-centered design tools provide no functional framework for solving these problems. An example is the situation designers face when creating an application interface to be displayed and manipulated on the four main screen modalities (mobile, tablet, desktop and TV). Designing for an optimized experience on one platform leaves the other three user experiences in suboptimized and frequently dysfunctional states. Virtual Migration: Whereby 3D Products Slip Behind the Glass “Slip behind the glass� means that products that were traditionally three-dimensional embodiments of features and functions have been converted to screen-based implementations driven by a combination of software control and clever new hardware interfaces that use all manner of standardized interaction modes, including gestures, voice and motion control. This migration is remaking what we design and the nature of the research designers employ.

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


desig n ing understa ndi n g

12:02 Virtual Migration: Traditional 3D products migrate behind the glass. High programming skills required

Low programming skills required

Simple products



Complex systems

Take, for example, the common wristwatch. It doesn’t require advanced user-centered design research to see that the use of wristwatches has plummeted since the advent of the cellphone. Instead, individuals choose to slip their phones out of their pockets to view the time. The physical representation of time has moved through the glass. This migration of the physical 3D product to a 2D softwarebased embodiment carries with it a massive shift in what the design of such functions is and can be. The leading iPhone or Android personal timekeeping appplication has hundreds of features not possible on the traditional watch, be it analog or digital. The range of traditional 3D products that are migrating behind the glass covers everything from simple watches to highly complex systems with vast feature sets and functional profiles. In this new world of virtual migration, design becomes a matter of feature discovery first and feature implementation second. User-centered design research is turned on its head since what the device does comes before how it does it. This requires a new form of research called devicecentered design, which is then followed by user-centered design that employs more advanced methodologies. The virtual migration of features changes the nature of what is being designed and delivered in a commercial sense. One can think of the role of traditional product design as also virtually migrating from physical product design to software design that embodies features and functions of traditional product design solutions. This migration is not trivial; it impacts the methods, processes and education of every design profession from industrial design to architecture.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

The Appization of Product Design The design of iOS and Android applications using either platform’s software development kit enables a suitably motivated designer to create a high-quality virtually migrated design solution with relatively limited costs or barriers to entry. With the emergence of app design as a new category of product design comes a remarkable opportunity for innovation through the use of relatively simple programming methods provided by the software development kits and related interface builders. These development tools have altered the creative landscape by lowering the skill level required to build engaging screen-based virtually migrated design solutions with robust user experiences. Of course, traditional 3D product design retains a place in the new world of app-based product design. But the nature of designing such products changes from being based on embedded and actual features (knobs, dials, buttons and levers) to something entirely different. Products like the iPad, Android tablets and smartphones are rapidly becoming generic platforms for displaying virtually migrated products that are for the most part app-based user experiences. The design challenges and opportunity for such products are now behind the glass. One can see this trend in everyday life as manufacturers’ products across the four screen modalities become increasingly indistinguishable from one another in terms of 3D product design. At the heart of actual physical product design for this mass of interconnected virtually migrated feature sets, is the design of the underlying interface technology (engineering, really) that enables users to employ common and well-understood interaction behaviors. Traditional product design will become increasingly generic in terms of aesthetic design, and the real design challenges will lie behind the glass through gesture-based and accelerometer-dependent apps. In the space behind the glass, the design problem changes even more from product design to process design; apps by their very nature are only as useful as they are connected. In this regard, user-centered design and related methods shift from a focus on design of features and functions to a focus on providing the most

Appization: Features become disembodied from actual products as the skill level required to create such solutions decreases dramatically.

direct and engaging pathway to the features that drive commercial success. Great and even good design is becoming defined by how well a virtual experience mimics and enhances a physical experience while adding new levels of engagement not possible when using a traditional (unconnected) product.

solve a complex problem comes from different sources and can be looked at in different ways. 4. Where did the problem come from? This type of problem always has a history. Something happened in the past that caused the information to obtain its current values, and these properties will impact future evolution. The history of the system determines how the current situation should be presented and what information is most salient. In such problems there may be a highly entrenched solution set that is supported by a large body of experts with interest in preserving the current solution set.

Migrating to the Complex As the design professions transition from the design of things to the design of processes, design solutions penetrate deeper than ever before into the primary business models of clients. In this new system, designers create the entire set of customer touch points and related interactions, both in their client’s problem domains and in those of adjacent connected devices. Thus, there is a dramatic increase in opportunity for the design professions but also an equally threatening level of risk because process design solutions are more complex and will have a directly measurable effect on a client’s business Simple Complex success. These new types of design problems design demand entirely different and more sophisticatdesign problems ed user-centered design research methods and problems education. They also create new, vast, complex ethical dilemmas that cannot be resolved easily or, in some instances, at all. When we design for this new world, the nature of such problems changes in fundamental and critical ways. Most importantly, design problems migrate from simple to structurally complex. Truly complex problems are characterized by several well-understood attributes, and they do not behave in ways design professionals are familiar with: With increasing frequency, these types of design prob1. Where is the information? In complex problems, lems are found in all critical commercial sectors, including there is no single answer to the stated problem, and health-care, finance, education, environmental, transportathe information to solve the problem is distributed tion, energy and political systems and a host of other areas rather than residing in a single location. The informawhere process design will be central to the solutions to techtion may be deeply hidden from view and significant nically complex problems. New methods for solving comresearch may be required to reveal the problem’s true plex problems will include data mining of large data sets, structure and nature. cognitive modeling, decision simulation, conflict-resolution 2. What are the questions? The questions associated testing, knowledge-signature development and advanced with the problem are open-ended, making it difficult, econometric modeling. Just as important will be the changif not impossible, to be sure when the questions have es in the business models that have been at the core of the been answered. management sciences for half a century. In the new virtual 3. Who knows how to solve the problem? Complex world of connectedness, your most ardent business comproblems require multidimensional strategies. An evalpetitor suddenly becomes your business partner—not by uation strategy that simultaneously takes into account choice, but by necessity. It will be no easy road. n multiple factors is needed because the information to



By Dan Formosa


Twitter: @danformosa

Dan Formosa’s work covers many areas of design. In 1980 he helped establish Smart Design to explore ways design can positively affect peoples lives. He frequently lectures on design. He also helped create the new master’s in branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Design and Understanding

My Relationship with Karen


he great thing about Karen is that she totally understands me. We’re in year three and at this point I know her pretty well—maybe even better than I should. She’s an actress, Australian and blonde, has a consistently pleasant disposition, is almost always helpful and is extremely forgiv-

ing. Let’s say, for instance, we’re driving to some previously unexplored weekend destination. On the way I impulsively feel like taking what I think may be a more scenic route. Instead of following her predetermined plan, I pull off onto a different exit ramp. No problem—she politely tells me she’s recalculating.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

important, it may not supply the critical edge that defines good design. Good design is more about how well a product or service fits into our lives and helps us along the way. And for many products, usability differences often trump physical differences—because physical or technical differences between various brands can be so slight that they become insignificant. So it’s not that physical traits don’t matter; it’s that products coming from different manufacturers are at parity in terms of their physical attributes. And technical performance is assumed at the time of purchase. We’re looking for more than that. From simple everyday housewares to high-tech electronics and health care, we’re into meaningful relationships. And those relationships may or may not be physical. We’re not buying products by brand name like we used to, or simply by outward appearance or estimation of performance. We’re buying products based on the promise of happy relationships. And we’re doing this now because we can. We turn to blogs, Amazon reviews, discussion groups, personal references, cable stations, YouTube reviews and many other instantly available sources that freely offer relationship advice. A strong brand name means little in the face of negative Amazon reviews. (And by the way, no matter how many positive reviews a product receives, we all read the negative ones. Apparently when it comes to relationships, we’re drawn to the tabloids.)

My relationship with Karen ($150) is stronger than my relationship with my Audi ($35,000). And while the Audi is running just fine (A3 diesel with great mileage), Karen and I seem to have a stronger and more personal bond. Compared to the car, it’s more of a true relationship, a sort of interdependence—borne out by the fact that if renting a car when traveling I’ll miss Karen more than my Audi. (Note: I often take her along.) Which makes me think that this is a pretty good time to be in design because in so many cases the design of the physical item doesn’t matter. While the “thing” may be

Consider What’s Meaningful For many of us, a great camera is defined more by its interface than its technical performance. For the most part, the technical differences between brands are not very meaningful. But if the settings we need to make take a half-second longer, we’ve missed the shot, which means an unkind onestar review on Amazon for all to read. Even more obvious, operating-system preferences for mobile phones can far outweigh the physical devices. The 3D design differences between the many flat full-screen touch-panel devices we can carry in our pocket mean much less than the operating systems they run. We likely wouldn’t abandon our system simply based on physical design, because the physical devices are more or less the same. What happens when this phenomenon takes place with larger items, like cars? Will we actually base our next car purchase not on the physical car but on its operating system? This isn’t a new phenomenon. BMW’s iDrive system (the center-console LCD screen system that controls vari-



desig n ing understa ndi n g

ous interior functions) was introduced more than a decade ago—and was impossible to use. While the car itself was fine, there was a failure to communicate. The operating system put a noticeable dent in the car-and-driver relationship, even with diehard BMW owners. What’s new now is the emerging realization that these operating-system offerings are not simply nice to have and incidental to the product—they are the product. They can be the sole reason to purchase. Or in BMW’s case, not to. Future innovation in automobiles will, therefore, be less about how the car drives and more about how the driver drives. As technical innovations continue to be introduced, human behavior remains a less explored frontier. Car designers need to consider how the car behaves and how the driver behaves under varying conditions—with the driver arguably being the more difficult to predict. This move from product to people creates a culture shock for companies whose pasts have been based on the physical object more than the person using it. The former approach focuses on the tangible product. The latter focuses on the less tangible aspects of people. And that shift of focus changes everything. The thing still matters, of course, but in almost every product category we have a choice of equally good alternatives coming from different manufacturers—brands we would be equally happy to own. Think of what this means culturewise and consider the difficult task of changing corporate cultures. The Ford Motor Co., like many behemoth automobile manufacturers, is ramping up its expertise in interface design. Can a recently formed interaction group overtake a 100-year-old tradition in design and engineering? It needs to—its center-console Sync system has “iDrive-itis,” usability issues negatively affecting Ford’s reputation. Looking even further, is a car company about the car or about transporting people? As the consumer model shifts from ownership to access, how does this affect the design of products and services and reveal new opportunities? Can our relationship with an automobile manufacturer be based on something beyond vehicle ownership?


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Companies need to understand people better than ever before, and the entire design profession needs to explore new ways to do that. Past Relationships Usability in design dates back centuries. Museums are full of cleverly designed artifacts that go back thousands of years. (A classic ancient water jug, for example, is a thing of ergonomic beauty.) The field of usability, as it is more commonly thought of today, had its birth during World War II. As aircraft became faster and more complex to fly, more pilots were crashing. The Air Force responded by examining both the physical and cognitive demands on pilots. Thus, the emergence of the fields of ergonomics and applied psychology. The pilot and aircraft needed to communicate and form a close relationship. Following these military applications, ergonomists and psychologists began applying their knowledge to commercial applications. Through the 1970s, however, for many designers “doing research” simply meant looking up anthropometric charts displaying the variations in the sizes of people. Handbooks on ergonomics also showed preferred orientations of dials and displays, typeface sizes and other examples of things that work with people—or at least worked with the military personnel for whom those recommendations were originally intended. Less easy to find were guidelines on how designers could conduct this research themselves, an approach that could have advanced the field of design by several decades, providing designers with more pertinent knowledge to specific projects at hand. In rare cases experts in ergonomics or psychology were enlisted. More often design research simply wasn’t done. Not a problem to many designers, who were taught in traditional methods of industrial design—the basis of which lies in understanding how to tame production machines and manufacturing processes. They tended to look more toward aesthetics than people-focused issues— maybe with some excuse, since many products (and usability issues) tended to be more simple back then.

Industrial design as a practice in the US dates back to the 1930s. In the 1950s something radical happened that dramatically affected design: television. More precisely, television advertising. For the first time companies were able to show and promote products across the US. With television, marketing products became more important than the products themselves. Design projects were driven by marketing needs—which was not necessarily the same thing as user needs. Advertising budgets became enormous, design budgets microscopic and design research budgets virtually nonexistent. The widespread practice of design research didn’t emerge until the 1980s. (While there may have been notable examples in design prior to the 1980s, there were certainly not many.) The fact that the field of marketing had a decades-long head start in creating methods in consumer research, combined with an adversity by many designers to any form of qualitative or quantitative research, stalled the advancement of research in design. It continues to do so today. Marketing groups still fund the majority of design projects, and their request for research conducted by design teams tends to, by nature, be focused on methods that most closely resemble marketing techniques, such as ethnography. As it’s commonly practiced in design and marketing, ethnography is not true “ethnography,” a term borrowed from anthropology. An anthropologist will spend six months to several years conducting fieldwork in an ethnographic study, living among people to understand their culture and habits. In contrast, the term is currently used in design to describe activities like short in-home surveys or on-site question-and-answer interviews. In a true ethnographic study, the observer is a fly on the wall, observing but not interacting. Meaning, if you have a discussion guide, you’re probably not conducting ethnographic research, just borrowing the term. Even when done correctly, observational research covers just one of a wide range of topics. The full spectrum of what designers can offer, and what design research should cover, includes many additional aspects of the human

experience. Opportunities abound in a more complete understanding of biomechanics, physiology, perception, emotion, behavior, cultural differences and gender differences. And while these other areas of design research are being addressed by some, there’s not enough of that research being performed—and much of what is may be proprietary, therefore not sharable. How can we get there? Universities are in a position to explore design in ways that are not constricted by commercial projects. There is very little wiggle room in real-world projects to explore topics like design and human behavior. Evolution is, therefore, happening slowly in the field. Meanwhile, expertise in fields outside of design isn’t stagnant—experts in related areas are also realizing that their fields need to evolve rapidly, broadening their scope of knowledge and responsibility. Design will belong to whoever gets there first. Love and Be Loved Which brings us back to Karen—and why, for me, she gets my attention over Audi. Relationships are complex, not simple. Make a list of all the traits you expect from a great product, brand or service and you’ll find that a surprising number of those traits will be identical to the things you look for in a person. Make a second list of all the things that make for a bad product, service or brand, and likewise, most will coincide with personal traits you would much rather avoid. And that makes sense. Humans have not evolved over many thousands of years to be attracted to inanimate objects. Humans have evolved to instinctively be attracted to people: a mate, family, tribe or culture. Today we behave accordingly with the various entities that surround us, including products, services and brands. We are looking for relationships. Designers are in a perfect position to address this need, exploring meaningful aspects of the human experience totally unique to the field of design. Which, in a way, makes every person working in the field of design—anyone looking to create a successful product, service or brand—a relationship counselor. n

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


By Michael McCoy, IDSA Michael McCoy is the first recipient, with Katherine (Kathy) McCoy, FIDSA, of the Smithsonian’s Design Minds National Design Award. His new Humanscale Horizon Light (with Peter Stathis) has won over 20 awards, including the Red Dot and a Gold IDEA, and it’s in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Designer-Friendly UserResearch Methods


am writing this article as an enthusiastic user of innovative design research tools and methods, with no claim to have invented any of them. I have had the privilege to know many of the pioneers in design research, including Niels Diffrient, FIDSA, Rick Robinson, John Cain, IDSA, Steve Wilcox, FIDSA, Paul

Rothstein, John Rheinfrank and Bill Moggridge, FIDSA and have embraced and adapted many of their methods to use in my practice and teaching. I differentiate the industrial-strength methods of Wilcox, Robinson and others, which are usually applied to very complex problems, from what I am talking about here. Part of my interest has been on designer-friendly research methods that get the designer out of the studio and into the world to observe how people interact with things in real life. A Journey of Research Tools As an educator and an independent practitioner of design, I have always been interested in research tools that are inexpensive and convenient to use, since designers are often under tight time and budget restrictions. The first designer-friendly research tool that I experienced was the Humanscale human-factors chart series co-authored by Diffrient and published by MIT Press in 1974 in the form of plastic cards with thumbwheels that could be dialed to the desired user type. When those became available, I began to see them on the desks of many industrial designers, who were actually using them. They replaced traditional human-factors books, which were difficult and awkward to use when under the pressure of tight time deadlines and with no space on the drawing board for a large book. The Humanscale charts were light and compact and quickly got the designers within close range of the desired dimensions, which they could then confirm and refine with their own drawings and mock-ups. I consider those to be Diffrient’s greatest contribution to the profession of design, even greater than his many pioneering furniture designs.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Important tools for me in my teaching have been the use of scenarios, storytelling, storyboarding, graphic novels and acting out design concepts. While Kathy and I chaired the design department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, we assigned a three-day team project at the beginning of each academic year that culminated in each team acting out its design concept as a scenario in a manner similar to a short play. The goal was to get designers thinking from inside the experience, rather than observing it from outside. A typical assignment was to imagine a café of the future and design all the elements of the experience, including dinnerware, furniture, menus, the space, and the servers’ outfits and demeanor. As part of the final presentation, the teams acted out the experience of entering the cafe, being seated, and ordering and eating their food. They had to inhabit the concept rather than stand outside of it. Also at Cranbrook, and parallel to the designer-friendly methods, I assigned projects that encouraged students to express the relationship of form and meaning in products using techniques like shape coding and metaphor. This approach, termed “product semantics” by Klaus Krippendorff

Jason A. Knowles © Fentress Architects

Wave Seating by Arconas, designed by Curtis Fentress and Michael McCoy, IDSA.

and Reinhart Butter, L/IDSA, referred to the shaping of products to communicate their use and cultural context. One key project, the Phonebook designed by Lisa Krohn and Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA, became emblematic of the approach with its form reference to a personal address book and the ergonomic performance of turning the pages to access features like recording the greeting. These projects were realized as high-resolution models and published to communicate the theories of product semantics. I considered the development of designer-friendly research and the experimentation in form and meaning to be complementary to each other; the form research demonstrated how objects can communicate their role in people’s everyday lives. During that period we also ran workshops for Philips Electronics, organized by Robert Blaich, FIDSA, which combined the methods of storytelling and scenarios with the theories of product semantics. In 1996 after directing Cranbrook’s Design Department for 24 years, Kathy and I moved to Chicago to join the faculty at IIT’s Institute of Design. There we were focused on adapting the advanced user-research methods being developed by fellow teachers like Robinson and Cain. I used some of those adaptations in the advanced productdesign workshop I taught. In the first half of the semester, I asked the graduate students to research a particular issue; in the second half, they developed innovative products or services based on their research. This required the student teams to use analytical research methods like shadowing and scenarios to identify product opportunities and then shift to generative techniques to conceive product ideas. I also encouraged fast looping of early research insights into rough field prototypes using cheap materials like cardboard

and duct tape that could be quickly taken to field sites, tested with real users in real situations and quickly modified. This emphasis on speed responds to the ever-shorter timeto-market demands of industry while ensuring the product meets people’s real needs. Integrating Approaches The techniques we developed relied on observation frameworks previously developed by our colleagues. Robinson’s AEIOU framework for observation ensured that all aspects of a situation—activities, environments, interactions, objects and users—were observed and noted. Rothstein’s AAAA framework (actors, activities, artifacts and atmosphere) for observation had similar goals and was developed to make the observation process more accessible and efficient for designers and researchers. Some of the methods I found useful in the workshop were shadowing and field prototyping. Shadowing is a technique easily used by teams for recording users’ experiences—for example, while they navigate through a public space. In one project, a student team looking at the homeimprovement phenomenon shadowed a team member with a video camera as she measured for window blinds in her apartment and then went to Home Depot to purchase the blinds and necessary hardware and tools. One proposed product that evolved was a personal user page on the Home Depot website in which the user can record pertinent data at home, such as measurements and photos of the room, and later access that data in the store from a touch-screen display on the shopping cart. The software also advises what hardware and tools must be purchased and provides a map of store locations.

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


desig n ing understa ndi n g

High Ground

Field prototyping involves makso that they could experience the ing a usable rough prototype of the interactions between the product, the proposed product from cheap fieldpeople and the environment. modifiable materials (like cardboard and duct tape) and taking the protoResearch in Use Bill Moggridge, FIDSA teaching at High Ground with scenario images in the background. type out to be experienced by typical I recently had the opportunity to use users. If it proves to be too big or too some of these research tools to cosmall it can be changed immediately on site and confirmed design a new generation of airport seating for Arconas, a by the users. This shortens the design cycle, eliminating the leading industry manufacturer. I collaborated with Curtis need to take the prototype back to the shop for modificaFentress of Fentress Architects, the architect of such tions and then returning to the users for verification. influential airports as Denver International, South Korea In the workshops we illustrated scenarios with story(Incheon) and the new LAX International Terminal, to boards and techniques borrowed from graphic novels. The develop airport seating that supports the needs of modern graphic-novel format enabled us to show people interacting travelers. Through observation, photography and interviews with things in situations and to use talk balloons to comwith travelers, we concluded that people need several key municate what they were saying and thinking. This analytical things that are missing in most airport seating: a place for tool visualizes the research and is an effective generative tool their drink, a place for their food, a recharging outlet for to synthesize design concepts. their mobile device and more room under the seat for their At the same time at the Institute of Design, Kathy luggage. We recorded images of people in business suits developed methods for audience-centered design. She crawling on the floor looking for a recharging outlet and developed audience analysis tools for the discovery of travelers spilling drinks on the floor or the next seat while design criteria appropriate for diverse interpretive communibalancing a sandwich and an iPad on their lap. Other sceties, including their individualized communication styles with narios include waiting-area discomfort for families traveling language, visual and verbal signs, and media preferences. with kids and elderly parents. The insights gained from audience-centered research Our design is based on the concept that every seat enables designers to tailor their communication solutions to is the best seat in the house. Even if the only seat left in a speak comprehensibly and resonantly to specific audiences crowded boarding area is in the middle of the row, the pasin our world of subcultures. This was an application of our senger will have a cupholder, a large flat arm surface to hold interest in designer-friendly research tools. food and a mobile device, a recharging outlet (and wireless When Kathy and I left the Institute of Design in 2003 to recharging in some arms) and more room under the seat live and work at our home and studio in the mountains of for luggage to keep the aisles clear. The Wave Seating will Colorado, we built a small seminar center to house our High be installed in airports globally to make travelers a bit more Ground Design Workshops. In our workshops for Timex, comfortable while waiting for their flights. McDonalds, Steelcase, IDSA and others, we combined the Recently a new research program called dScout (www. studio experience of Cranbrook and the designer-friendly, where researchers can sign up and creresearch methods we had developed at the Institute of ate studies, has been developed by Chris Conley. This Design. Our fellow faculty for the workshops included mobile Web platform enables ethnographic research to be Moggridge, Viemeister, Robinson, Hugh Dubberly, Cain conducted on a larger scale and at a lower cost than previand many others. Teams used storytelling and scenarios to ously possible. Clearly there is a growing interest in making describe situations in people’s lives and identify products design research methods and information much more availand services that could enable desired outcomes. The able and usable for designers. techniques of graphic novels were used to show people I have found that designer-friendly research methods in situations interacting with objects and each other. The can be highly effective in identifying new product opportunifinal team presentations involved acting out scenarios with ties, even if there is minimal time and money in the budget quickly made physical props representing the products. for extensive research. These tools get the designer out The process of acting out challenged the designers to be of the studio to observe real-life situations that reveal and directly involved in using the product in contextual situations inspire innovative product solutions. n


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

By Michael Wiklund n

Michael Wiklund is president of Wiklund Research & Design Inc., a human-factors consulting firm that focuses on making medical technology safe, effective, usable and appealing. He is the co-author of Usability Testing of Medical Devices and Designing Usability into Medical Devices and teaches user-interface design at Tufts University.

The Renaissance of User-Interface Design


istorically, industrial designers and human-factors specialists have had an oppositional relationship. Right-brain thinking versus left-brain thinking. Oil and vinegar. Or at least that has been the widely held view of these two types of product development professionals who share

responsibility for the quality of interaction between people and products. At worst, industrial designers have viewed human-factors specialists as creativity-challenged snide critics who stifle promising designs by piously citing user-interface-design shortcomings. Human-factors specialists have viewed industrial designers as self-satisfying folks who compromise a device’s usability for the sake of its styling. However, this kind of stereotyping is neither productive nor particularly accurate. Today industrial designers and human-factors specialists seem to be working quite well together. Perhaps this is because of the increasing overlap in their core professional knowledge, skills and responsibilities. This type of collaboration is particularly common among professionals working in the medical-device industry and at an increasing number of product-development firms that have commingled human-factors engineering and industrial design. Medical-device manufacturers understand that their products—devices such as X-ray machines, defibrillators and drug injectors—must be safe and effective. Device usability and style, which certainly are the legitimate routine concerns of industrial designers and human-factors specialists, must take a backseat to the primary goal of ensuring that a medical device is used properly and without a significant chance of causing harm. After all, if a manufacturer cannot achieve this primary goal, it really has no product. Regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), license only safe and effective devices. As a result, industrial designers and human-factors specialists are well served by working collaboratively to ensure that a medical device’s users can accomplish key tasks and to minimize the risk of potentially harm-

ful use errors. Reasonable budgetary and technical constraints withstanding, there is no excuse for compromising a device’s safety to achieve any other design objectives. By collaborating, the two types of design professionals are more likely to keep their priorities straight. The Movement The industry-wide movement toward safer medical devices was stimulated over a decade ago by evidence of considerable harm caused by medical-device errors. Governments, industry and the public learned that the rate of death due to medical-device error eclipsed the rate of death due to many common diseases and accidental causes. People were frequently dying due to programming errors, cable misconnections, transcription errors and other mistakes. For example, patients have died because a user programmed an infusion pump to deliver a medication too slowly or too quickly. In some cases, the root cause was an incorrectly written or interpreted prescription. In other cases, a shortcoming in the user-interface design induced the use error. In the US in the 1990s, death due to medical error was arguably an epidemic, and the epidemic undoubtedly raged in other countries as well. The complexity of medical devices and a lack of attention to human factors, compounded by shortcomings in the health-care system, were widely cited as major causes of use errors. This gave design professionals newfound leverage in their efforts to ply their trade at medical-device companies. Simply stated, medical devices needed to include better user-interface design so they would not induce use errors, or at least prevent deviceinteraction problems from becoming full-blown adverse

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


Michael Lozano

desig n ing understa ndi n g

events. The expression “to err is human” was effectively retired as an excuse for error-prone medical devices. Let’s return to the present—a period that could be called the renaissance of user-interface design. Driven in large part by FDA requirements (http://www. HumanFactors/default.htm), industrial designers and human-factors specialists have become essential assets to medical-device manufacturers. Some of the larger manufacturers have established their own combined industrialdesign and human-factors-engineering departments that ensure close collaboration and potentially save money as compared to maintaining separate departments. Other manufacturers routinely seek the support of consulting firms that provide the requisite industrial-design and/or human-factors expertise. This has created a booming market for industrial-design and human-factors providers. Few, if any, medical manufacturers continue to view industrial design and human factors as electives. Working Together In lieu of sharing all user-interface design-development tasks equally, industrial-design and human-factors teammates are well-served to sort out which discipline will lead particular tasks. This is where professional training and basic interests can prevail. The human-factors professional is the likely candidate to dissect how users will interact with a medical device. After all, a human-factors specialist is supposed to be skilled at function and task analyses and data-collection methods, such as conducting ethnographic-style observations and interviews. This kind of work leads directly to defining user-interface requirements tied to user needs and then tying that into use-related risk analysis. These days it


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

is particularly important to do a good job at the latter task. Medical-device regulators expect use-related risk analyses to be comprehensive and credible. This means that the analysts should first develop a deep understanding of users’ interactions with the given medical device, providing a legitimate basis for determining the likelihood of use errors. Accordingly, this role can and should be fulfilled by a human-factors specialist accustomed to serving as the user’s surrogate in the design process. Meanwhile, the industrial designer can play a supportive, if not leading role, becoming involved in any fieldwork intended to collect human-factors-related data that might also satisfy the need for industrial-design-related data. The human-factors specialist is also the heir apparent to plan and lead usability tests of medical devices in their formative and final development stages. However, the industrial designer should be heavily involved in test planning, particularly at the formative evaluation stage, to ensure that testing effectively addresses open design issues. For example, an industrial designer might wonder how well a paramedic can set up a portable ventilator during emergency use, noting that component shapes, coloring, finishes and mechanical functions may facilitate or impede the task. Now, let’s talk about the industrial designer’s roles when it comes to ensuring a medical device’s safety and effectiveness. Clearly, the designer is well-trained to lead design conceptualization activities, particularly those focusing on a medical device’s form and function. Moreover, the designer is likely to have a well-developed sense for ergonomic design, perhaps even more so than the humanfactors specialist whose earlier training and career might be focused on user-interface development for software. The industrial designer is also the obvious candidate

The Rise and Fall of Use Errors to develop solutions that meet competing user-interface design requirements, again focusing on hardware. For example, an industrial designer working on a portable patient monitor will need to juggle a large number of userinterface requirements to arrive at an optimal product that is compact and lightweight, easy to carry, easy to mount on a bed’s guardrail or on a wall bracket, and attractive. No easy task and certainly not the bailiwick of the traditional human-factors specialist. Arguably, user-interface design for software poses the greatest opportunity for equal collaboration. Human-factors specialists may be well prepared to define software userinterface structures and address such aspects as navigation within information hierarchies. But, equally as prepared might be the industrial designer who also possesses the skills of an interaction designer and who might also be a gifted visual designer. Otherwise, the industrial-design specialist can certainly help develop the look and feel of a software user-interface, focusing on the use of color, creating visually pleasing and readable information layouts, developing coherent symbols and appropriately reflecting a company’s brand. Convergence Looking ahead—perhaps another five to 10 years—the line between industrial-design and human-factors specialists is likely to blur even more than it already has. Accordingly, medical-device manufacturers might ultimately seek out interaction designers rather than human factors or industrial designers per se. In other words, the need for close collaboration between different types of design specialists might be obviated by the emergence of a new type of specialist. Interaction designers, aka user-experience designers, will possess hybrid skills enabling them to apply a thoroughly user-centered approach to the design of physical and computer-based components. The term “hybrid” might best be replaced by the term “contemporary.” Also, industrial-design and human-factors education programs might be supplanted, or at least augmented on a large scale, by interaction-design programs that remove unnecessary distinctions between an industrial-design track and a human-factors track. Some design education programs in the US have already started this movement. It seems safe to assume that there are plenty of people with strong left and right brains who are eager to learn a contemporary set of user-interface-design skills and practice them at medical companies. n

The frequently cited To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System ( id=9728&page=1), published in 1999, was a wake-up call to society. This National Academy of Sciences’ publication broke the news that tens of thousands of Americans were killed each year due to medical errors, many of which involved the incorrect use of a medical device. The report stimulated an entire industry to focus on producing medical devices that are less prone to use error. The report ostensibly forced device manufacturers to recognize that poorly designed devices can induce use errors and that an investment in userinterface quality was a smart risk-reduction strategy. Medical-device manufacturers are expected to perform a comprehensive analysis of the risks associated with people using their devices in normal and potentially hazardous scenarios. The analysis calls for the identification of potential use errors, estimating the likelihood of each use error and the severity of the possible harm that might occur as a consequence of the use error. The analysis enables manufacturers to quantify the level of risk associated with the use errors, determine which risks are too high and then implement risk-control measures (i.e., mitigations), such as shaping connectors and their ports so users can make only correct connections. Manufacturers must confirm that risk mitigations are effective by conducting summative evaluations. Usability testing—a primary summative evaluation technique—calls upon a device’s intended users to perform tasks that challenge risk-control measures, determining whether or not potentially harmful use errors persist. Usability tests of medical devices come in two basic flavors: formative usability tests conducted to identify a medical device’s interactive strengths and opportunities for improvement, and summative (i.e., validation) usability tests conducted to generate evidence of a device’s use safety and effectiveness. In recent years, manufacturers have become acutely aware that summative usability testing is a high-stakes endeavor. If test participants commit use errors linked to high risks, a manufacturer is essentially required to revise the device so that the use errors are less likely to recur. Because such setbacks can occur late in the development process, many manufacturers are inclined to try to address interaction problems by modifying a device’s use instructions and tweaking any training that they might deliver to customers. However, regulators consider such risk mitigations to be weak as compared to making changes to the user-interface design (e.g., redesigning a mechanism, modifying the layout of on-screen information, changing an audible alarm’s volume).

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


By Jeremy Myerson Jeremy Myerson is director and chair of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, London.

Designing with People


ndustrial design practice has developed over the past 60 years within the defining contexts of a production-led economy, consumerism and, more recently, globalization. IDSA members won’t need reminding that such an evolution has been hugely advantageous to the design profession; it has cre-

ated a widening platform for design expertise, turned the wheels of business and provided more consumer choice in the process.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Measuring Man The story begins with the landmark publication of Designing for People by the US industrial design pioneer Henry Dreyfuss, FIDSA in 1955. It signaled mainstream design interest in human psychology and user needs as a way to create products and services that sell. The book introduced “Joe” and “Josephine,” anthropometric charts for average men and women, and set a blueprint for industrial design practice to treat people as passive test subjects in the design process, designing for their needs and wants from the vantage point of an expert mindset. This blueprint was reinforced by a second Dreyfuss publication, The Measure of Man (1960), which significantly expanded the use of anthropometric data—the dimensions of human scale, including arm and leg reach—as an essential tool for designers and led to the phrase “average Joe” to describe the typical consumer. Dreyfuss influenced design practice and the educational curriculum in a profound way—a core belief system was established that would be largely unchallenged in the field. Henry Dreyfuss Associates

But look beyond the market rhetoric. Big questions about meeting real user needs remain unanswered. Since emerging from World War II into the sunny uplands of the 1950s, industrial designers in North America and Europe have largely viewed those who use their designs as passive consumers, rather than as active collaborators or creators in their own right. Designing for people has been the dominant doctrine—an established way of thinking accelerated by the drive to produce on a global scale. Design skills have been applied to create economies of scale in manufacturing and worldwide brands in marketing. This dominant doctrine is now under sustained fire, however, as international exponents of inclusive design— or design for all—point out the limitations of such an approach. A paradigm shift is underway toward designing with people—and in some cases, even designing by people—as industrial designers seek to combine creativity with inclusion.

6.1" 155

5.7" 145

8.6" 218

59.6" 1514

C E R V IC AL LINK 16.1" 409

14.1" 358

52.2" S HOULDE R HG T 1326

17" 432

45.6" 1158


Henry Dreyfuss Associates

23.9" F ING E R T IP HG T 607 29.8" C R OT C H HG T 757

2.6" 65

15.1" 384


26" F ING E R T IP HG T . 660 32.6" C R OT C H HG T 828

2.8" 70

3.2" 81

16.6" 422

15.4" 391

16.7" 424


3.5" 89

56.7" S HOULDE R HG T 1440

18.1" 460

1.9" 48

Even the immediate backlash UP P E R C HE S T 12.2" AR M C LAVIC AL 310 LINK against average Joes conformed to 50.4" LINK T HOR AC IC 1280 the mainstream picture of designer LINK 12.5" 318 THOR AC IC LUMB AR as expert. When the British architect UP P E R LINK LINK AR M 11.4" WAIS T LINK Selwyn Goldsmith, a wheelchair user, 290 F OR E published the first comprehensive set 10.4" C HE S T P E LV IC AR M 264 LINK S LINK of building guidelines on the designing 9" WAIS T 37.9" 229 LUMB AR for disability subject in 1963, he titled 45 C G 963 36.9" LINK F OR E 937 AR M 5.2" his book Designing for the Disabled P E LV IC LINK 132 LINK S IS CHIA (the subtitle was A New Paradigm, but 45 33.4" 7" 848 that would not truly arrive for nearly 40 178 7.2" 184 HAND years). When Victor Papanek, L/IDSA LINK let rip at the industrial design profession with his incendiary opening to Design HIP S IT 14.2" 2" for the Real World (1971)—“There are 361 51 T HIG H professions more harmful than industrial HIP S IT 1.8" 14.6" LINK 371 46 19.8" T HIG H design, but only a very few of them”— LINK 503 18" the title still suggested that designers 457 should act on behalf of others. S HANK LINE Since 2000, however, global citiS HANK LINK zen concerns such as climate change, aging populations, rising health-care costs, social exclusion and economic 3.9" inequality have begun to move the 3.5" 99 3" 89 tectonic plates under long-established 76 3.2" 2.9" 81 F OOT 74 principles and norms of industrial design LINK 0 Datum 0 Datum practice. Jane Fulton Suri, the humanfactors specialist at the global design firm IDEO, was one of the first to articulate a paradigm shift meet the challenge of globalization but also to scale down to from designing for to designing with and by people when address a range of local and community needs. And inclushe addressed the international Include conference on inclusive design has broadened its definition from including more sive design in London in 2007. needs to including more players in the design process itself. In these new forms of design practice, as Fulton Suri describes it, the designer mindset is no longer an expert Engaging with People one, but a participatory one. Over the past five years Consider the methods that industrial designers have adoptmany industrial designers have really embraced designing ed to meet people’s needs over the past 60 years. In the with people (the complete abandonment of creative authordesigning for people category, well-established techniques ship that designing by people implies has been a harder hill such as consumer focus groups, observations, interviews to climb). They have used their skills not just to scale up to and prototype building/testing have been supplemented

1 4 0 . 8 "R 6


13.6" 345

54.6" 1387

2.1" 53

2 5 3 . 1 "R

C E R V IC AL LINK 18.3" 465

2.36" AV G 60 4.4" 112

64" S T AT UR E 1626

5.7" 145

1.5" 38

64.7" 1643

7" 170

4.4" 112 5.9" 150

1.5" 38

2.36" AV G 60

7.1" 180

8.7" 221

14.5" 368

69.1" S T AT UR E 1755


desig n ing understa ndi n g

by new practices. These include compressing academic ethnographic practice to meet commercial deadlines (rapiddesign ethnography), creating personas to explore user needs within the design process or working with extreme users to give insights into how a new product might be received. The use of empathy tools that enable designers to experience disabilities through the wearing of movement-constricting age suits or spectacles that simulate various eye conditions has also caught on. The focus of methods on designing for people is on being generally inspired by people, either directly through interviews and shadowing or indirectly through personas, role play and empathy tools. In the designing with people category, however, the focus is more specifically on learning from people though active engagement. Emerging methods here include the staging of user forums and workshops that bring designers and people together for short intense durations to address specific issues through a co-creation process, the making of pseudo-documentaries in which lead users play a role in short films that designers make about design problems and the placing of cultural probes in an environment as deliberate provocations to develop a deeper dialogue with design users. This is the area where the industrial design profession is generally headed. Fewer practitioners have reached the faraway shores of designing by people; the focus of design methods here switches from being inspired by or learning from people to empowering them and tapping into their own creativity. This approach has a lineage stretching back to the participatory architecture movement of the 1970s, yet more new methods are taking shape. There is new-found interest among designers in experimental learning experiences using new media to encourage civic participation, termed “cultural jamming� by Kalle Lasn, the creator of the Canadian magazine Adbusters. These methods focus, in particular, on stimulating citizen participation as opposed to studying user behavior. People are no longer consumers or even collaborators but creators in their own right, taking over the lead role from the designer.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Illustrating the Dynamic To illustrate this dynamic of change in design methods, I want to describe three short case studies from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art (RCA), which was founded in 1991 to explore the design implications of aging populations. In the first case study, a European bathroom manufacturer commissioned RCA design graduate Tomek Rygalik to research and develop a new mirrorand-sink unit that would be easier for older people to use. Rygalik decided to observe and interview a group of performers and dancers who spend long hours applying makeup and preening themselves in front of a dressing-room mirror. These extreme users helped him capture usual and compelling performance requirements for the new design. The project resulted in a full-size prototype that is inclusive of older people rather than exclusively for them. The final concept incorporates a sculptural basin, three mirrors, appropriate lighting, seating and storage. The main mirror houses a soft glowing band of light that washes an equal amount of light across the face. A handheld mirror detaches from this, enabling the back and side of the head to be seen. An adjustable tap lets users wash their hair in the sink with ease. The designer has taken the inspiration provided by the extreme of users at the sink to conceptualize a new approach to a standard piece of sanitary ware. This project can be interpreted as good practice in designing for people. In the second case study, the interior of the London emergency ambulance was redesigned by a multidisciplinary team of frontline paramedics, clinicians, patients, academic researchers, engineers and designers, all working together under the leadership of industrial designer Ed Matthews and vehicle designer Dale Harrow at RCA. Importantly, a paramedic from the London Ambulance Service was seconded to the design team for six months and effectively became another designer. Key insights from user groups were translated into sketch designs; a full-scale test rig was mocked up in cardboard and foam. The team worked through a co-design pro-

Photos: Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art

cess to develop and evaluate proposals, resulting in a full-size mobile demonstrator of the new ambulance that reconfigured the layout of the patient treatment space. Simulations of clinical treatments, such as treating leg ulcers with actors playing patients, were held to capture data on the performance of the new ambulance in comparison to the existing one. The new interior offers 360-degree access to the patient, not only improving the clinical efficiency but also enhancing patient safety. Its curved easy-wipe panels are designed to be easier to clean. Modular equipment packs containing specific treatment consumables aid clinical performance, infection control and stock control. A new digital diagnostics and communications system, which anticipates a time when paramedics speeding to an emergency can access in advance the electronic records of the patients they will encounter, is also presented. This work represents emerging practice in designing with people—the active engagement of those who work in the ambulance has shaped the solution. Needs were not inferred by the designer through an impartial examination of behavior but translated directly through a co-design process. This project won both the Design Museum’s Transport Design for the Year award in the UK and an IDEA silver in 2012.

In the third case study, a housing authority in Hong Kong was refurbishing several outdated 1960s public highrise housing blocks. A social activist team, including Helen Hamlyn Centre visiting research fellow Yanki Lee, worked with local resident groups on an estate called the Lower Ngau Tau Kok. Three participatory design workshops were created for residents and social workers to understand the complicated architectural design process in relation to their everyday life experiences. Different scales of urban living were addressed through different games. In one participa-

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


desig n ing understa ndi n g

A Resource to Support the Shift To help designers manage the shift toward designing with rather than for people, the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA has developed an open-access website as part of the collaborative i~design research program with colleagues at the universities of Cambridge and Loughborough. A key objective was to bring scientific capability data alive for the design profession in a more empathic and meaningful way and offer a wealth of practical information on inclusive design practice. The website has four main sections. A People section presents 10 individuals drawn from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design’s user network—their vision, hearing, dexterity, mobility and cognition capabilities correspond to different scales on Cambridge University’s population capability data, and their life experiences can act as an inspiration for designers. An Activities section presents precedents and case studies related to the activities of daily living. Insights on user behavior are grouped under four themes—personal care, household, work and money, and communication—and communicated through images, video and first-person testimonials. A Methods section maps and evaluates common design methods in practice and classifies them within a special framework. Designers can browse exemplary projects related to each method and identify the most appropriate method for their current project. Finally, an Ethics section offers designers guidance on good practice in working with people. Designers can work through the stages of contact, consent, confidentiality and conduct step-by-step to understand the principles of user involvement. The aim of this and other design tools in development around the world is to free industrial designers from the shackles of consumerism and mass production that has limited their thinking in the past—and support a new practice that treats people as more equal partners in the design process.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

tory design game, for example, miniature pieces on a board comprising human figures, pieces of furniture and partitions enabled tenants to design their own apartment layout in a workshop facilitated by designers. This project exemplifies an outlier practice: designing by people, which is already happening in different parts of the world, especially as the limitations of the old top-down industrial models of interaction with people become more apparent. This model taps into the inherent creativity of design users and gives them the tools and the platform to express their own solutions, with the designer in the role of facilitator. The Front End of Innovation What makes this dynamic shift in design methods especially resonant is the innovation context in which design professionals are now working. We all know the story more or less: First, Western businesses send the deliver phase of innovation offshore to lower cost economies (manufacturing, distribution, logistics and so on); then they send the create phase eastward too, setting up design and engineering studios in Bangalore and Shanghai. What is left is the front end of innovation—the understand-and-discover phase of bringing new products and services to market— and it assumes unprecedented significance in terms of adding value. Unsurprisingly, the fuzzy front end is where industrial designers have now started to congregate. It is where all the focus is on understanding people, identifying unmet needs, shaping new trends and shifting industry boundaries—and it demands a completely new relationship between expert designers and dumb consumers in which the power balance is adjusted. The participatory methods and attitudes that underpin designing with people help to build and consolidate that new relationship—and to include as many people as possible in both design solutions and the process itself. Industrial designers have had it good for 60 years with design for consumers. Now inclusive design is swinging the pitch toward the co-creators. n


By Alastair S. Macdonald

Alastair Macdonald, a graduate in product design, formerly head of the Product Design Engineering Department at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA), is currently a senior researcher at GSA deploying people-centered, co-design-driven methodologies within inter-professional healthcare research teams, exploring the use of design approaches in health-care service improvement.

Design Approaches in Complex Health-Care Scenarios

wicked problems


gainst the backdrop of the UK’s changing population demographic, the National Health Service (NHS) is faced with a number of wicked problems, problems that are difficult to resolve and resistant to resolution. An attempt to resolve just one aspect of a problem often results in the

creation of further problems. Solutions tend to be addressed using a reductionist approach and imposed through hierarchical management structures. Consequently, there can be a lack of collective contribution to potential solutions from—and engagement with—those who are both delivering and receiving the service. This compounds problems through the introduction of solutions that are unworkable or ineffective due to a lack of acknowledgement or a poor understanding of complex interdependencies and relationships. A Chronic and Wicked Problem To date, a solution has not been found in the UK for the chronic problem of hospital malnutrition in vulnerable older patients. The unacceptable scale and cost of this issue to the NHS are well documented ( guides/guide15/files/hungrytobeheard.pdf). Examples of previous interventions have included the protected mealtimes initiative intended to prevent clinical procedures from interrupting patients’ mealtimes and the red tray system in which food and drink are served on red trays to alert staff to at-risk patients. Barriers to the successful adoption and implementation of these and other initiatives have been found, and core issues have not been addressed. These types of responses to the issue of malnutrition illustrate an incomplete understanding of the complexity of the problem and also a belief that typically reductionist approaches, imposed in a top-down manner, will deliver successful solutions. In response, the UK’s cross-council New Dynamics of Ageing research program ( funded an interdisciplinary team, mappmal, to use, for the first time, a mixed-methods research approach to address this nutritional problem ( This initiative used a participative co-design bottom-up process to engage a food family (those involved in nutrition management, dietitians, food production, food supply and delivery, catering, ward staff, nurses, physicians, speech and occupational therapists) and key stakeholders (such as the NHS and patient societies) in the creation and development of a demonstration prototype for an improved food and nutritional care system. Although the project lead was a professor of nutrition, the project’s distinct character and modus operandi was largely determined by an over-arching methodology that successfully integrated design with more familiar social science, food and nutrition science and clinical research methods. While some research methods, such as ethnographic observational fieldwork and interviews, were familiar in this context, others from the design portfolio were completely new, such as what-if workshops and service and experience prototyping. Within the hospital setting, the preparation and delivery of in-hospital meals to a huge variety of sick individuals with different health complications, dietary needs and individual preferences involves a complex set of relationships and coor-



Illustrated service narratives as used in PowerPoint to communicate initial concepts to the food family.

Key Stages

Activities & Methods

Individuals Involved


conventional methods of research and analysis ethnographic studies in 5 NHS hospitals S, D, N interviews (n=52) with FF and KS S sensory testing of existing hospital foods FS


presenting data in formats that can be easily shared and validated visual mapping of existing food journeys FS, D thematic analysis and visualizing of issues D, S validation of findings @ WS1a FF, KS


exploiting collective experiences and insights, creating space for thinking differently identifying opportunities and stimulating new thinking @ WS1b,c N, S, FS, D, T, E, FF, KS ideas generation @ WS2b FF, KS service prototyping @ WS2c N, S, FS, D, T, E, FF, KS


making sense of the system among the team, FF and KS determining core system elements N, FS, D, S building narratives and scenarios N, FS, D, S developing new interface application D, T, CS evaluating early system concepts with FF + KS @ WS3a N, S, FS, D, T, E, FF, KS evaluating early interface prototypes with FF+ KS @ WS3b N, S, FS, D, T, E, FF, KS evaluating early food supply and delivery system concept @ WS4 S, D, FF, CM


validation of the prototype by clinical, health-care, nutrition and design communities demonstration prototype - working simulation of key elements N, FS, D, S exhibition and website design D conference demonstrations and presentations (n=5) N, S, FS, D

Key to individuals: D = Designers S = Sociologists T = Technologists WS = Workhop (number + activity) FS = Food Scientists, N = Nutritionists, E = Ergonomists FF = Food Familiy KS = Key Stakeholders CM = Catering Managers CS = Computer Scientists

dination of tasks between the food family and key stakeholders. The initial ethnographic research revealed that factors contributing to inadequate food intake were many and varied, including inadequate screening for malnutrition, inefficient and inflexible food ordering and meal services, poor mealtime ambience, lack of mealtime assistance, poor information on food intake and lack of accountability for nutritional care. The design contribution at this stage was to reveal the complexity yet at the same time to help provide a palpable view of this through a series of visual mappings, not only of the status quo but also in conceptualizing the key problematic themes that emerged. These findings were the process and means for choosing and ordering appropriate and appealing food; the process and means for preparing, delivering and presenting food and ensuring its quality; the environment for, means and experience of eating food; and the means for monitoring and evaluating food and nutritional intake.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

The next challenge was how to move forward from these findings: the issue for the designers was how to lead on this without (initially) having an answer. The team’s approach recognized that potential solutions lay within the collective experience and expertise of the food family and key stakeholders, those who were immersed in the day-to-day complexity of the tasks, relationships and the hospital context. At the five key stages of the project, the team used different methods and activities. Although stage 1, which involved using standard methods of research and analysis, might be familiar in conventional research terms, stages beyond this were innovative in this context. Stage 2, presented the ethnographic and scientific data in accessible visual rather than text-based formats, allowed an opportunity for individual comment and a consensus view from respondents to be shared more widely, providing fresh insights about the

Š Cate Gillon 2011

A food family member provides feedback on an early version of the patient menu interface at one of the food family and key stakeholder workshops.

current systems and processes as a whole. Stage 3 built on this to identify opportunities for service improvement, namely to create the conditions and means for the food family and key stakeholders to step out of habituated thinking through what-if and out-of-the-box idea-generation workshops. This stage also facilitated the translation of ideas into concrete concepts. Through ad-hoc service prototyping activities, the food family and key stakeholders could tangibly engage with the ideas. This stage also helped identify the separate elements of the new service prototype that came to be known as “hospitalfoodie.� Stage 4 developed and refined these elements and brought them together into a coherent system concept through an iterative development process. Key here was the development and use of a set of service narratives to allow everyone to understand how the system and technologies would work in typical ward mealtime scenarios and the simultaneous development and testing of mock-ups and prototypes of technologies and interfaces. This stage was essentially about explaining the workability of the system to the research team, food family and key stakeholders. Stage 5 was concerned with the communication and demonstration of the service prototype to key professional sectors in the health-care, nutrition, gerontology and design communities through a series of conference presentations and a Web-based video, which was helpful in providing feedback that informed further modifications.

Hospitalfoodie The hospitalfoodie concept comprises a number of integrated elements. One is a nutrition management system operated through touch screens at the patient bedside and on staff interfaces linked to a nutrition composition database. Tailored menus enable personalized food provision and ordering of meals and drinks closer to the time of consumption. By supplementing existing catering systems with ward-based food provision, a mini-meal trolley can provide six smaller energy- and nutrient-dense mini-meals per day and monitor nutrition intake at each meal. It is intended to facilitate nutritional screening, calculate requirements and monitor achievement of targets, provide shortfall alerts, prompt time-limited actions, provide performance data, build accountability, facilitate increased management of food and nutrition, engage all types and grades of staff in the process and raise the profile of food provision as part of total patient care. The NDA program was keen to encourage the use of state-of-the-art technologies. One particularly tricky issue was in monitoring what patients had eaten (unknown) as distinct from what was presented to them (known) since no satisfactory method or system had yet been developed to do so. After considering of a number of alternatives, including weighing and photographing remaining on-plate food, the team developed a method that allows for a quick visual



© Peter Baynton 2011

Far left: The user “wipes away” food items eaten based on a visual assessment. The app is linked to a nutrition database that calculates nutrients and calories consumed.

comparison of what remains on a patient’s plate using a wipe-away food monitoring app on a database photo of the meal linked to a smart nutritional database on the patient’s bedside touch-screen terminal. This was found to be within sufficiently accurate tolerances for meaningful recording of a patient’s intake of protein and calories. More details can be found on the project website, Science and Art What were the tensions between the science and the art in all this? Design as a field tends to be solution-driven, whereas research is essentially knowledge-driven. Innovation requires genuinely workable solutions that are acceptable to and workable by end users, but to achieve this requires thinking outside the box. However, those delivering the service can often be resistant to change for complex reasons; perhaps they are not able to step back sufficiently from their habituated daily routines or are not able to see the complete picture. The work of the food family was characterized by the senior ethnographer on the mappmal team as “transitory people doing interrupted work ... everybody is in transit all the time doing something on the way to doing something else.” Scientific aspects of the project included the development, by the food scientists, of new foods with appropriate nutritional content and studies of the effect that heating and chilling of food during preparation and delivery has on the appeal and nutritional content. Softer social science methods used in the ethnography (interviews and observations) constituted another more qualitative scientific approach with its own particular systematic and robust modes of data collection and analysis. The challenge for the research team was to acknowledge and help balance this tension between the requirement for an audit trail using a robust evidence base on the one hand and creating situations that would sufficiently free up contributors to allow informed speculative thinking toward potential solutions on the other (i.e., the conditions where they could actually begin to design solutions). Previous work has demonstrated that, given the right conditions, non-designers are innately capable, more or less, of designing. To achieve this, the designers were required


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Left: Stills from the professionally commissioned narrative video.

to create the conditions for designing to occur and the specific tools and techniques with which the food family and key stakeholders could engage in speculative activity. This was the art. In the design of workshops, one method used was to reflect an ideal food and nutrition service through three real-life service organizations selected for their excellence in addressing some of the challenges identified by the initial ethnography: an armed-services catering corps (delivery of intense nutrition in adverse conditions), a consumeroriented food retailer (quality food, customer-centered service) and a popular lifestyle computer company (seamless user-friendly technology). Here, the design-led contribution was transformative, “instrumental in the process of transforming research outputs to implementable technologies and interventions,” according to a sociologist on the team. This was achieved through a rich mix of accessible methods and a process that created a strong and effective social dynamic between the food family, key stakeholders and the research team, enabling everyone to work together in a fluid and contributory manner. It was also synergistic, that is, able to create an innovative system that could sit alongside and complement existing hospital catering arrangements and that was coherent, tangible and able to be refined through an iterative process involving mock-ups and prototypes. This used a bricolage approach from a range of diverse givens emerging from the complexity of the ethnographic and scientific analyses to coherently link disconnected elements, such as patient bedside terminals, nutritional assessment tools for the screening of patients and nutritional databases, all of which are part of the emerging 21st-century hospital landscape. Solutions developed by individual disciplines or through top-down processes are inevitably going to be much less successful in acknowledging the complexity and multiple confounding factors in organizational relationships and processes than those embodying the collective experience, insights and expertise of all concerned with the service (both providers and consumers) and design methods. The hospitalfoodie concept prototype embodies the approach to successful innovation that could be deployed to address wicked problems of this nature. n

By Graham Pullin Graham Pullin is author of Design Meets Disability, was co-chair of Include 2011 at the Royal College of Art and is course director of Digital Interaction Design at DJCAD, University of Dundee in the UK. Previously he was a designer and studio head at IDEO.


Neil Dawson

Six Subversions of User-Centered Design

ser-centered design implies putting the people who will use a design at the center of the design process––although just who these people are and what it means to be at the center of the design process is less clear and less consensual. Participatory design, inclusive design and

universal design, to name a few associated terms, are not identical. Here are six illustrative (and alliterative) design projects taken from education, research and practice that each in different ways push the notion of user-centered design. Most––but not all––are designed for someone other than the designer; some are designed for someone other than the user.

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


Mike Vanis

desig n ing understa ndi n g

Student-Centered Design: Storymaker, Storyteller The challenge of introducing young designers to people-centered design involves helping them see the world through another’s eyes, without denying the role of their own nascent intuition. Undergraduates in digital interaction design and product design at the University of Dundee were each asked to conceive a device exclusively for one of their grandparents: overlooked users of digital technology yet amenable to basic design ethnography. Obviously such a task gives the students a narrow view of an older generation––but as a class, presenting their observations and insights to each other, collectively they gain an appreciation of diversity within any population. Storymaker, Storyteller was Neil Dawson’s response to his grandfather Donald’s cross-cultural experiences as a teacher in Iran in the 1970s. Forty years on, the hundreds of slides he took languish in boxes, and Donald is conscious that their stories are untold and will be forgotten when he is gone. Storymaker is a device like an old-fashioned handheld slide viewer, but with a recording facility that lets Donald narrate each slide. This is paired with Dawson’s Storyteller, a networked projector with audio that plays Donald’s voiceovers. Microsoft’s Principal Researcher Bill Buxton commented that “it bridges the generations of people, but actually I think it was just as elegant how it bridged the generations of technologies: [your grandfather] speaks in the technology of his day and you view in the technology of your day and it’s seamless––that’s elegant and I’ve not seen that before.” Not a bad level of innovation for a 20-year-old design student. Dawson’s own reflection is just as telling: “I think the project was strengthened by my Grandpa’s charisma, story and input, but I have wondered how it would have been received without as much involvement on his part; was it the solution people liked, or was it him? It’s difficult (and most likely wrong to try) to disentangle the two.” Sewer-Centered Design: Social Sewing Mike Vanis and a team of fellow students considered Vanis’ grandmother Despina who, when she was younger, used to rent an atelier with a group of other seamstresses in Athens. Now in their 80s, each sews alone in their own


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

homes because travel is too difficult. They miss the company to the extent that they are all considering giving up sewing. Social Sewing connects the group’s sewing tables through the Internet. Each of the women is represented in the sewing rooms of her friends by a miniature ceramic sewing machine that mirrors her activity: when she presses the pedal, the avatar machine’s needle moves up and down. The actual sounds of the sewing machines are heard over loudspeakers, an ambient awareness of the communal activity of sewing. One of the strengths of Social Sewing is its lightness of touch. While there is also an intercom so the women can talk, this is not the main function. As Vanis recalls from his grandmother’s reminiscences, “Sometimes they just concentrated on their work and the rumbling rhythmic sound of their sewing machines was just enough social interaction for them.” The specificity of Despina’s virtual atelier illuminates a more universal truth: Social interaction does not imply direct messaging. This is a level of subtlety that can get lost by adopting too literal a definition of “user.” When Charles Eames was asked whether design implies the idea of products that are necessarily useful, he responded, “Yes––even though the use might be very subtle.” Stranger-Centered Design: Subtle Subtitles It would not usually be recommended for a student intent on user-centered design to design for his or her mother. But Calum’s mum had spinocerebellar ataxia, a progressive condition that rendered her speech increasingly dysarthric, or slurred, and therefore difficult for strangers, who were not attuned to her speech patterns, to understand. Subtle Subtitles was tailored to Calum’s mum, including a purple knitted scarf that coordinates with her favorite outfits. Into this is set an iPhone, in the manner of a brooch, running an application that transcribes her speech. Although the app was specially trained to listen to dysarthric speech, speech recognition is never perfect, so a bespoke typeface reminiscent of writing with chalk on a blackboard—by implication somewhat tentative rather than too authoritative—is used. Gentle transitions do not distract the listeners’ eyes away from eye contact unless they actually require a subtitle. In this way the design is as much centered on the listener—the stranger—as on the wearer.

Calum Pringle

The subtlety of these decisions arose from participatory design with a wider user group of people with impaired speech with whom appropriate typography and choreography were explored in detail. This combination of approaches came about through personal circumstances but is an interesting hybrid. Personas are a more common attempt to reconcile a depth of understanding of the complexities of an individual’s life (a person whose life does not revolve around using the product––not a designcentered user!) with a breadth that encompasses wider needs.


Self-Centered Design: Somiya Says A different relationship between design for one and design for many is struck by another project for someone without speech. When Somiya Shabban was at school, she used a dialogue ec tri cw book in which she pointed to words––versatile but ig laborious. Johanna Van Daalen from design group Electricwig worked to help her to express herself more fully. In particular, Shabban wanted to be able to express frustration more spontaneously. Together they created a badge that, whenever she hit a head switch, lit up with the words “Somiya says SOD OFF.” This message is wonderfully direct and disarming, and yet the badge expresses so much more about Shabban besides: that she is the kind of person who uses this language, that it’s important enough to dedicate a button to it, that she doesn’t mind who knows this. This is a project about self and identity, a badge of

her own devising rather than a label imposed by someone else, in the terms of sociologist Tom Shakespeare. Its creation epitomizes activist James Charlton’s mantra: “Nothing about us without us.” Unashamedly bespoke, the project nonetheless has a role as an icon around which a richer debate about the priorities for what is known as augmentative and alternative communication. For once it does not prioritize flexibility of communication, important though this is, as much as an individual’s voice. Anti-User-Centered Design: Social Mobiles Social Mobiles, a collaboration between IDEO and Crispin Jones, took a sideways look at “the anger and frustration caused by other people’s mobile phones” by their inconsiderate use in public spaces. This third-party perspective was deliberate. The five Social Mobiles are radical prototypes of handsets that change their user’s behavior in some way to render it less socially disruptive. The most extreme delivers electric shocks to both parties, according to how loudly they are speaking, inducing a whispered and less obtrusive conversation. Another demands a ridiculous musical performance to dial a number in the first place, an act inconceiv-

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


IDEO/Maura Shea

danger that the term “user” implies direct use of whatever is being designed, and that user-centered design all too easily becomes design-centered design by another route? Design in which direct use is not even the most important perspective may demand more subtlety and be no less difficult. More could be done to celebrate the tensions, even contradictions, inherent in user-centered design. Might it even be said that the users of user-centered design are designers? If so, illustrations are invaluable, but icons and subversions might be even more engaging. The six variations discussed here combine different ways of designing for lead users––whether exclusively (Somiya Says), as extreme users (Storymaker, Storyteller) or as a well-rounded persona in the context of a wider user group (Subtle Subtitles). They could be said to prioritize being together over using together (Social Sewing), switching off over switching on (Simply) and the people around the user over the user (Social Mobiles) for a change. Critical reflection on a more complex landscape of practices might help keep user-centered design relevant to otherwise evolving design practices––and indeed innovative itself. n

able in a public place where it would be inappropriate to use the phone. The key innovation is that this intensely people-centered project concerning social interactions and mediated by technology is not user-centered in the traditional sense. For once, it is the experience of the people around the user that is being given consideration. It is design for everyone but the user. At IDEO and elsewhere, such explorations can reinvigorate a culture of innovation and consider issues that may be raised––but not addressed––in client work or not addressed yet.

IDEO/Nicolas Zurcher

Non-User-Centered Design: Simply Social Mobiles could also be said to have inspired innovation in a subsequent commercial product. Soon after, IDEO was commissioned by Vodafone, one of Europe’s largest telecoms, who had identified a large underserved market of adults aged 35–54. Initial user research in four European countries identified the importance of etiquette among this user group, and Social Mobiles played a complementary role in keeping the issue visible and in the minds of the design team and client. The market was also defined in terms of phone use–– or lack thereof. Many of these users owned mobile phones but chose to keep them turned off. Impenetrable settings hidden deep in menu structures rendered it too difficult to silence the ringer, leading many users to prefer to keep their phones switched off. The issue was not as much one of technophobia as a genuine dread of their phone ringing in a quiet public place, an anxiety not equally shared by other users. Simply featured a direct switch to set the ringer to silent (and to check it at a glance, even in your pocket)––which is present on today’s Apple iPhone. User-centered design could be taken as a rejection of an over-importance of the designer. But is there a


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

By Dave Bramston, I/IDSA


Dave Bramston is principal lecturer (Enterprise) at the School of Art & Design, College of Arts, University of Lincoln (UK) and a member of the Lincoln creativelab facilitating internal and external cross-disciplinary activity.

To Let: No Mutants, Murderers or Monsters


s a 10-year-old, the summer of 1976 was a time of curiosity and trepidation. It provided an opportunity to exploit the unfamiliar and to play outside from dawn until dusk. Exploring the flora and fauna indigenous to the UK’s West Midlands constantly triggered the imagination

and prompted a what-if mentality. Creating vernacular structures in local fields or woodlands and collecting undesirable marine life from canals and ponds seemed to be a perfectly natural way to pass these long summer days. Jam jars and stockings were upcycled to create temporary traps or nets that were excitedly trawled through murky waters in an attempt to catch sticklebacks, pond skaters and other miscellaneous bugs. A process of trial and error led to more and more ambitious solutions being tested to push the boundaries as the adventure evolved. The jam jars became soda bottles, the denier of the improvised nets was crudely modified, and the observations and experiences from previous summers enabled the activity to be continually refined within the fundamental parameters of understanding. These simple make-it-yourself solutions were deemed to be more relevant than any generic kit that might have been available. The experience of being the initiator, maker and user and of inherently understanding the problem was important, but personal ability, being central to every stage of the development, limited the process. The approach was often conducted in isolation or with friends with similar encounters. The need to appreciate the efforts of others, others from different backgrounds with different ideas and experiences, others who could have stimulated the development process and allowed for methods to be shared, was not recognized. The predominantly self-imposed approach to fabricating the outputs in 1976 certainly crossed a variety of disciplines, yet there was a need for a more specific dialogue beyond the familiar.

The contents of the catch were evaluated by what could be seen at the waterside, but obviously much was missed, and there was undoubtedly more things occurring than could have ever have been imagined at the time. It is necessary to be inquisitive, to exploit curiosity and to constantly listen and observe. The author and poet Henry David Thoreau made the poignant observation, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” The what-if and how questions the child asks are fundamental to understanding an unfamiliar situation and to eliminating any misunderstanding. It is often the areas outside of the comfort zone that can be found to be the most stimulating, the most engaging and the most rewarding. The Need for Slime Design frequently looks to the natural world for inspiration, but with no biological experience, apart from a childhood approach to catching marine life in 1976, a risk and a step beyond the familiar led to an intriguing dialogue with microbiologists many years later. Informal open-minded discussions probed different practices, protocols and methodologies that were uniquely familiar to the individual disciplines of microbiology and design. The opportunity to generate connections between the fields and to present alternative thoughts without any mental baggage was both refreshing and enlightening.

A scanning electron micrograph of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


desig n ing understa ndi n g

A scanning electron microscopy image of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, primary colonizers attaching to a surface.

The cross-pollination of ideas from these initial discussions became a beneficial catalyst for naïveté to merge with creativity. An innocence that is too often suppressed after childhood provided the what-if platform that evolved to consider microbes from a design standpoint and design in a microbial context. As the role of the anthropologist was emerging, the need to couple design experience with microbial understanding was evidently necessary if unfamiliar objectives were pursued. What are the needs of a microscopic end user, and what are the issues that need to be considered? Could a texture be designed to influence the behavior of identified cells attaching to a virgin surface, and if so, how could it be achieved? A decision to shadow and observe microbiologists and to develop a basic awareness of microbial aggregates to apply creative thinking was undertaken, but it would also unknowingly accentuate the complexity of the journey ahead. Planktonic bacteria, such as the unobserved freefloating marine life captured in the jam jars and nets back in 1976, are microbes that drift independently, are vulnerable in isolation and are known to overcome repellent forces before attaching to an unoccupied surface. Attached, the individual cells produce exopolymeric substances, generically referred to as “slime” by the curious young adventurer. The exopolymeric substance is instrumental to the microbe’s sustainability and the subsequent formation of


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

a microbial matrix or biofilm. The matrix enlarges with the arrival of more unicellular organisms as the bonds to the surface and between cells increases. The exopolymeric substances act as a form of biological glue, creating an enhanced microbial community and providing an element of protection to the cells contained within. As biofilms, cells are significantly more resilient to external dangers compared to having a free-living characteristic. The biofilm is capable of developing on biotic or abiotic surfaces at a variety of phase boundaries and can cause many industrial, environmental and medical problems. In contrast to the many complications associated with the presence of biofilms, microbial aggregates can also make a valuable contribution to industrial processes through their removal and digestion of organic compounds. The method of cells attaching to surfaces is predominantly considered to be due to biological and chemical actions or reactions, but could an understanding of design influence the microbes and the development of a biofilm? A bacterial strain needed to be identified as a suitable organism for investigation. After due consideration, the prevalent “lab rat” Pseudomonas aeruginosa was selected. To find and examine the organism required a rethink of conventional and familiar design practices. The sourcing of a microbial aggregate or obtaining a pure culture, is an acutely different experience than identifying a more conventional end user. It is difficult to know where to look and even how to instigate such a search.

The ambiguous bacterium can not be seen without the use of a special microscope, and the inability to directly communicate or visually understand the microbe presented immediate obstacles and an array of unfamiliar problems. A conventional user study might require the observer to be discrete or unobtrusive, but in such a scenario, irrespective of any obvious cultural diversification that may be present, it is still often possible to relate to the situation somehow and to naturally prompt a multistaged inquiry. The selection of the bacterium required strict protocols to be adhered to, but unexpected complications arose when it became apparent that the end users can suddenly mutate and are also frequently murdered, traits that had not been encountered in any former end-user studies. An isolated strain of the bacterium was obtained through a series of stage-identification processes. The isolated strain was then used to inoculate media containing a variety of surfaces. The development of the daughter cells and the subsequent formation of a single consortia biofilm on the surfaces were incubated for carefully monitored incremental periods ranging from momentary contact to prolonged exposure before processed and fixed for observation under a scanning electron microscope. The process provided an initial insight to the location of primary colonizers onto the vacant surfaces, but it was still not understood if the areas for attachment were random or specifically selected. Were these microbial tenants particular about their habitat and the surrounding neighborhood, or were they simply temporary residents with no obvious preference? So many diverse and fluctuating parameters can influence the situation, and with cells in a state of continual flux, any generic appraisal is unlikely. Childlike Solutions The assumption that there was nothing seen in the improvised nets and jam jars during the childhood summers was an understandable oversight, but to make an assumption without any foundation is undoubtedly naïve. The observations of the developed samples needed to be continually repeated and evaluated, considered using different conditions and probed extensively to simply determine if any patterns would emerge regarding the sites that were adopted. There could be no assumption to any potential outcome and no affirmation of previous observations. The protocols needed to be constant, but it was evident that any investigative observations would be particular to the specific scenario. Despite obvious difficulties in observing bacteria, it seemed that perhaps under controlled conditions that there might be a tendency for cells to develop at particular locations. The observations did not simply assess the immediate attachment points but also the surrounding surface topography that might be considered influential. The neighborhood appeared relevant in much the same way that the surroundings in a more familiar user study might be deemed

significant. However when observing a cell that is 1/40th the cross section of a single hair, a surface that looks smooth can have a substantially different characteristic when you see at a microbial level. Further study to understand the preferential habitats of the selected cells involved the generation of stereopairs to create a three-dimensional image of the surface compared to the limited detail often communicated in a standard micrograph. The viability of the cells was also determined through the use of the confocal microscope and the application of fluorescent dyes. The process is important when evaluating the microbe’s ability to develop since a dead cell might indicate vulnerability. The process of viewing the living primary colonizer cells through the confocal microscope before fixing and observing in the scanning electron microscope needed to ensure that an exact reference area could be located following the transition because any references or coordinates were rendered useless in an alternative microscope. The problem of relocation presented a simple design challenge and led to another improvised childlike solution. A 10 µ diameter wire wrapped unobtrusively around the samples could be referenced effectively to locate the specific cell-attachment sites, enabling the transfer of samples and the opportunity to cross reference all the observations. The information obtained undoubtedly began to identify particular emerging patterns, and it was again necessary to understand what was being viewed. The observations of where the cells were initially colonizing was insufficient without a specific context. Observation of the samples using interference optical microscopy accurately evaluated the topography to produce the data required to replicate the habitats, but many of the industrial processes considered to create the outputs could not achieve a required 1 µ detail, or damaged the materials being used. The initial journey had started with a speculative dialogue with microbiologists, and now a further collaboration with engineering colleagues led to the use of specialist lasers to create the desired textures on materials that could be placed inside a biofilm reactor and monitored. Does the texture provide an enhanced opportunity for biofilm development? Does the texture reduce the potential of the individual bacterium being threatened or killed by other organisms? All the textures evaluated and observed were created on a single plane with a single strain of bacteria. Although the findings challenge some conventions associated with bacterial attachment, the investigation needs to embrace alternative bacteria and consider mixed consortia biofilms. It is unlikely that in the natural environment that a single consortia biofilm would be found, and the move to mixed biofilms changes the complete dynamic. In addition to increasing the amount of microbial strains, the configuration needs to address the development of threedimensional textures before any suitable conclusions can be made. The observational journey is just beginning. n

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


2 0 1 2 Eastman/I DSA E ducatio n Symposium Best Paper

Creating a Mindset for Innovation


n 1999 the Industrial Design program at Brigham Young University moved from the College of Visual Arts to the College of Engineering and Technology. This move was motivated by new synergies developing in industry between engineering, manufacturing and industrial design. The move was intended

to help industrial design students understand and take full advantage of these growing opportunities for collaboration. The move has had a positive impact on the design program and the students. One of the strongest and most impactful collaborations has been the development of an Innovation Boot Camp. The Problem Dating from the late 1700s to the modern day, according to John Kleppe, a professor emeritus of electrical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno, “A major source of technological advancement has been the result of individual inventors [and] innovations.” Surprisingly, most technology and engineering programs in the United States do not explicitly teach innovation. With the increasingly complex and competitive global market, and with new interest and concern over environmental issues, biotechnologies and so forth, many companies are reforming how and where they do business. Additionally, many academic institutions are calling for a “radical restructuring of the theoretical knowledge taught in academic education programs ... to create competencies of professional value in today’s business situations,” according to Tim C. McAloone, an associate professor at the Technical University of Denmark. To address the many challenges involved with the new global industrial arena, many technology educators believe that the theoretical restructuring that needs to take place must involve and center on innovation.


www . innovationjournal . org

By Paul Skaggs, IDSA, Richard Fry, IDSA and Geoff Wright n n Paul Skaggs is the undergraduate coordinator for industrial design in the School of Technology at Brigham Young University. His research interests are in three designer cognitive modes: creative thinking, visual thinking and flexible thinking. n Richard Fry is currently director of the School of Technology at Brigham Young University and is still trying to be a designer in between writing memos. n Geoffrey Wright is an assistant professor of technology and engineering education; his research interests concern emerging digital communication technologies, instructional design, pedagogy issues connected to digital media, innovation, and technology and engineering.

Despite the need to include innovation as a key component of technology and engineering curricula, some universities have made restructuring efforts to include aspects of innovation. A study done by the Southern Technology Council found that there are very few universities supporting educational initiatives that teach innovation. The lack of support and inclusion of innovation in technology and engineering-related programs seems to stem from archaic mathematics and science curriculum standards and outdated technology and engineering curriculum standards. Although engineering programs have existed and been taught at the university level for well over 60 years, most of the courses and degrees have focused on traditional engineering concepts (i.e., hard math and sciences) and have not bridged into the areas of creativity and innovation. It has only been in the last five years that universities have started to recognize creativity and innovation as a key component of engineering. In light of the need to prepare students for the challenges of our global economy, technology and engineering educators need to ensure that we are continuing to evolve our practices and curricula, which would demand including innovation as a key component of technology and engineering curricula. With the economic need and acceptance for outsourcing and competition in areas such as global product development, many American engineering and technology institutions are rethinking and restructuring the content and instruction of engineering and technology curricula. In an effort to address this issue, the College of Engineering and Technology has established several school-wide technology and engineering initiatives that focus on the issues of leadership, global awareness and innovation. College administrators established a committee to investigate how to promote innovation. The innovation committee traveled to several institutions recognized internationally for their exemplary models of innovation and performed a literature review on the subject of innovation and its various related topics. Through the research, innovation was refined and defined as “unique and useful ideas successfully implemented.� This led to an innovation model described as

Creativity Strategic Question of what, why and for who Problem Finding Divergent Thinking Idea Generating Broaden Scope Heuristic

Implementation Tactical Question of how Problem Solving Convergent Thinking Idea Refining Achieve Closure Algorithmic

the ice-cream-cone model shown above. The model pairs strategic-divergent problem finding to develop unique and useful insights with convergent problem solving to implement ideas successfully. The conclusion was that the latter, implementation, was taught pretty well in the college, so the focus of the innovation committee was to teach the divergent problem-finding strategic part of innovation. In addition to the divergent problem-finding ingredient, it was determined that a number of other important principles needed to be incorporated, including that insights should be human centered, a safe environment is needed where critique and comments are accepted as positive and productive, the value of interdisciplinary approach is needed to see insights from numerous points of view and perspectives, and tools are required to make ideas concrete so everyone in the group can understand the insights at a higher level. A number of ideas were proposed for advancing innovation in the college. One of the ideas the innovation

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


2 0 1 2 Eastman/I DSA E ducatio n Symposium Best Paper

committee developed to make a positive impact on student innovation ability was to institute an Innovation Boot Camp. In short, the boot camp was developed as an intensive innovation-focused workshop that would immerse students in an experiential collaborative learning environment that would require them to work in teams with students from various programs housed within the college to identify and shape problems using principles of innovation. There were three phases to this research project: developing and implementing the Innovation Boot Camp, evaluating the Innovation Boot Camp experience, and assessing and restructuring the Innovation Boot Camp. Development and Implementation An innovation committee was formed, composed of professors from a number of school programs. The basic curriculum was taken from a Creativity and Design Thinking class taught in the industrial design program. This curriculum was modified and enlarged using data collected from their observations during their visits to the various well-known innovation institutions, and from creativity and innovation literature. This information was used to formulate several ideas for creating and implementing the desired innovative culture in the school. Various ideas were put forth, though it was ultimately decided that an experiential workshop highlighting the key principles of innovation would be the fastest and more impactful method to initiate. This workshop came to be known as the Innovation Boot Camp. The first boot camp was taught in March 2008 by three of the industrial design faculty with a group of student and faculty volunteers from a number of programs in the college. The boot camp has gone through numerous modifications, including being offered for two terms as a block class (seven weeks, one day a week), but has since reverted back to a two-day boot camp experience. Currently, the boot camp is in its 18th iteration, has a dedicated space and is a required course in four programs in the college. The boot camp experience starts with 25 students that are split into five interdisciplinary groups of five students each. Participating faculty members are put in their own group to give the students freedom from the influence of any authority figures. Faculty members are encouraged to attend to learn the principles so as to be able to reinforce them in subsequent classes.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

On day one, students were introduced to the need for and idea of innovation, leading the students to establish a working definition of the term. Students were then introduced to the five key principles of innovation and engaged in one experiential activity per principle—an approach that served as a tactical opportunity to semantically apply the principles. The next activity was to combine all the principles on a single-problem opportunity where each activity built upon the previous, thereby helping the students transfer and scaffold their learning from principle to principle. By the end of the day, the students had developed an innovative insight about a product or system as a result of their collaborative efforts through the innovation principles activity. To conclude the first day, each group of students shared the insights they identified and the innovative proposal they developed as a result of employing each innovation principle. At the conclusion of their presentations, they were introduced to a capstone activity that would require them to go through the steps of innovation one additional time. The students were expected to continue to work in their teams to ready themselves for the capstone presentation and evaluation. The purpose of the capstone experience was to evaluate whether or not the students understood the innovation principles well enough to combine them in pursuit of developing tools they could use to identify problems and develop unique and useful insights. Day two of the Innovation Boot Camp consisted of each group sharing how they worked to understand, shape, explore and define their respective discovered problems, accompanied by a proposal of their capstone projects based on the five key principles of innovation. Representatives of local design and engineering companies and interested professors from the school evaluated the students’ projects based on the principles of flexibility, fluency, uniqueness, elaboration and usefulness. Evaluation At the completion of the boot camp a discussion session was held with the participating students, so they couldshare their reflections. They were encouraged to determine whether or not their experience helped them to develop and learn innovation skills; they were also asked to defend their opinions. Exit surveys were emailed to each student at the conclusion of the boot camp in anticipation that the students

would complete the survey within the first few days following the experience. Additionally, several students were randomly selected to participate in a focus-group exit interview. The first boot camp was filmed and later used to critique and analyze the attentiveness and participation of the students. The instructors of the boot camp were also invited to watch the video to help evaluate their instructional methods and the associated activities and content. Two outside observers from the college were also invited to view the film and asked to take notes on what was done, how they perceived the instruction was being received, how the activities were helping the students understand the principles and concept of innovation, how the students seemed to enjoy or not enjoy the experience, and so forth. Overall survey results and interviews stated that 100 percent of the students said that the Innovation Boot Camp should be continued, and 71 percent of the students identified their time spent at the boot camp as effective on a scale that included ineffective, not very effective, moderately effective, effective and very effective. When the students were asked to rate on a 1–5 scale (5 being high) how the Innovation Boot Camp influenced their understanding of innovation, the mean was 4.0. When the students were similarly asked to rate how they believed their propensity for innovation was influenced by the camp, 43 percent responded that it made a significant amount of difference. Then, when the students were asked to rate how they believed their skills related to innovation were influenced by the boot camp experience, 86 percent reported that they believed their skills to have been significantly influenced. Also, 85 percent of the students said that they thought their time at the Innovation Boot Camp was spent either effectively or very effectively. The outside observers reported similar findings. And, while they proposed

various suggestions, the majority of their thoughts centered on curriculum design issues and content. Assessing and Restructuring The innovation boot camp is still in the developing, validating and iterating prototype stage of progress. The findings from the surveys, interviews and qualitative observations have provided helpful insight as to how Innovation Boot Camp might be restructured and developed. The primary areas of restructuring we have thus far addressed center on curriculum issues. There are numerous principles common among innovation-related literature, and though the principles innately suggest similar concepts, it is important to solidify the vocabulary being used in the Innovation Boot Camp curriculum. There has been an increasing level of interest in the College and across the campus in the Innovation Boot Camp. The question arises how to expand the offering with the limited resources available. In addition, interest has gone beyond the university with numerous requests from corporations to conduct on-site boot camps. Again, this is a resource issue. The development of good assessment tools for the boot camp’s effectiveness is also an important issue to address. Although the data is limited as a result of the Innovation Boot Camp’s newness, the initiative has shown strong indicators of having an important impact by preparing students to be innovative in the globally competitive technology and engineering market. In such a market, innovation is an essential and defining skill. The Innovation Boot Camp will continue to be refined, shared, validated and iterated, but assessment has shown that it is having the desired effect by addressing the innovation initiative and of creating a mindset for innovation in the College. n

Editor’s note: This article was adapted from the 2012 Eastman/IDSA Education Symposium’s Best Paper. The full version is online at

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


showcase The submitters pay for the publishing to this unjuried showcase.

color for everyday “Oven to table to refrigerator functionality with patented silicon seal lid technology.” Pyrex No Leak GLASS designed by World Kitchen LLC;

“The purity of glass storage paired

with inspired functional features and colors for everyday use.

Pyrex No Leak Clear designed by World Kitchen LLC;


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

“KitchenAid’s new Pro Line Toasters are the hottest thing since sliced bread.” KitchenAid Pro Line Toasters designed by Whirlpool Global Consumer Design and Twisthink for KitchenAid;

“Sophisticated user-friendly designs create

the perfect press.

Durathon Steam Irons designed by CHOi Design for Hamilton Beach Brands;

“Because some things just shouldn’t be complicated.” BRITE Toaster designed by Tekna Inc.;

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2



“Satisfy your hunger for great taste by smoking, grilling, searing and baking in Kamado style.

Kamado Professional C.Series – 2013 Model designed by Metaphase Design Group Inc. for Vision Grills;

“Designed with a grip that guides users’ hands into the correct position for superior control.” Chicago Cutlery Design Pro Knife Set designed by World Kitchen LLC;


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

“The Oster Designed for

Life Series has become an extraordinary success story at Wal-Mart.

Oster Designed for Life Kitchen Electrics designed by Scott Henderson Inc. for Jarden Consumer Solutions;

“Perfect pressed coffee,

12 cups at a time.

Royal Café designed by Cesaroni Design for Hy Cite Corp.;

“A statement piece for the kitchen with a

comfort soft grip and nonstick blade. Chicago Cutlery Pro Hold Knife Set designed by World Kitchen LLC;




“Bring da Rukus.” Rukus designed by Whipsaw for Eton;

“Stay comfortable, connected and

protected in the most demanding surgical procedures.

Flyte Personal Protection System designed by Tekna Inc. for Stryker;

“eNest delivers mobile safety combined with aesthetic appeal and user friendliness to a broad audience.” eNest designed by Mormedi for The Nest Network;


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

“Designed to brew the perfect cup of tea, with a removable kettle to make pouring a little easier.

Capresso Tea C100 designed by LDA for Jura-Capresso Inc.;

“Modern and sleek—toasters

that make a statement in any kitchen.

Cool Touch and Modern Chrome Toasters designed by CHOi Design for Hamilton Beach Brands;

“Easy-clean hairbrush: a single movement discards that retained hair. No more clogged brushes.

“Here’s lookin‘ at you, kid.”

Easy Clean Hairbrush designed by Jeff Yi-Teng Shih of the School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Australia;

Dropcam HD Video Monitor designed by Whipsaw for Dropcam;

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2



“The MAKO Rio


System puts high precision robotic technology into the hands of orthopedic surgeons.


Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic System designed by Farm for MAKO Surgical Corp.;

“Designed with the patient in mind, the TomoTherapy


H™ Series system enhances patient comfort and improves the patient experience.

H™ Series Treatment Delivery designed by InForm Product Development for Accuray; TomoTherapy®

“A revolutionary device allowing the

noninvasive measurement of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentrations in tissue.

OxiplexTS designed by Optimal Design for ISS;


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

“Twisted and bent steel tubes,

unlike any chair before.

EXPLORE™ Chair designed by Cesaroni Design for Bretford Manufacturing Inc.;

“Far reaching, close shave.” “The ocean’s formidable foe—MANTA.”

Magnum 3 Razor designed by Insync Design for Energizer Personal Care;

MANTA 70 meter Super Yacht designed by Scott Henderson Inc. for The Super Yacht Group and Superyacht Design magazine, UK;



“Ergonomic and biomorphic, these cups are engineered inside and out for the ultimate coffee experience.”

LINO Coffee Cups designed by notNeutral for Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea;

“A sterilizing/dehydrating

toilet produces clean bricks for the fabrication of shelters in developing countries.

Toilet Design for Developing Countries designed by Allen Samuels, Industrial Designer;

“Unwind with a refreshing draught beer

poured in the comfort of your own home. Draftmark™ Tap System designed by Metaphase Design Group Inc. for Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.;


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org

Venia Coffee Roasters


“The next generation in state-of-the-art

line-array concert speakers.

JBL Professional VTX Series Line Array designed by LDA for JBL Professional;

“This game-changing mast delivers increased operator visibility, performance and overall productivity.” Crown RM6000S designed by Crown Equipment Corp.;

“Advancing the truck remotely while working from behind promotes safety and improves the worker experience.

Crown QuickPick Remote Advance designed by Crown Equipment Corp.;

I N N O V A T I O N winter 2 0 1 2


sig nposts



I imagine that the magic and the memories are stored n a small brown and brittle second-hand paperback out of reach somewhere in the plastic encased chip. Just there is a small star scribbled in the margin beside the same as if I had inherited an e-book instead of a wellthat quote. It meant something to the person who put used paperback from a parent: no it there. Since that person meant marks, underlines, inscriptions or something to me, I wonder what dog ears. I am so thankful that my she was thinking and what this Perhaps a first step, is in the mother inscribed every book and quote meant to her? And why? picture she gave me or my kids. There are physical imprints on simplification of life, in cutting Without knowing it, she turned a objects all around us that turn a commodity into a priceless object simple object into a metaphysical out some of the distractions. each time. experience. It has a value now that Of course, I love my e-books is not derived in a rational way. It —Anne Morrow Lindbergh on remaining and audiobooks, MP3s and digital becomes a treasure. balanced. Gift from the Sea, 1955 photos, and I worry about what will I noticed an ad for Bauman’s replace the primitive but priceless Rare Books for ordering special marks we leave on their physical predecessors. I think about signed biographies of former presidents. My Life, signed this when I look at a photo that has been liked, hearted or by the hand of Bill Clinton, the autobiographer, is priced at commented online. The power of what is happening there is $1,500. I’m sorry, but unless the president looked me in the easy to miss, but it’s a great example that maybe this metaeye, asked my name, signed it with a smelly marker and physical effect can happen in the digital realm. put it in my hand, it wouldn’t have anywhere near that value When the character Erica Albright in the movie The for me. The personal connection, memory or experience is Social Network exclaimed, “The Internet’s not written in where the value really gets imbued. pencil, Mark. It’s written in ink,” I shuddered. But maybe it’s In a very different example of intangible value in analog a good thing. Maybe we can figure out how to use some of objects, I have a few old lift tickets from significant ski days that ink to imbue emotion and meaning into these intangible on the corkboard in my office: An opening day of Nov. ones and zeros. 11—my earliest so far! A closing day so warm no jacket was Give it a shot. required. I still have vivid memories of the runs, the temperatures, the textures of the early- or late-season snow. Every —Alistair Hamilton, IDSA time I look at them I am transported back to those days. This same destination now has RFID tickets that I don’t even have to pull out of my pocket. Amazing—I can load it up online and walk onto the lift in a flash. A huge convenience. The problem is that I don’t have anything left to remember the days with, and no token or souvenir to show off and retell the story by.


www . I N N O V A T I O N journal . org











Learn from subject matter experts, design leaders and visionaries who will enlighten, educate and inspire you as we consider the future of design.


Mark your calendars. Prepare to be blown away!


A beAutiful life

The Ignite experience. Helping people achieve their goals.

C r e at i v i t y t h at m a k e s a d i f f e r e n C e

| California – ChiCago – europe – hong kong

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.