All posts in Design Seminar 1

  • Reflection // First year, Check!

    I have found that at the end of each semester I absolutely require a rest period where I can’t think about my classes, even if it would be more fresh in my mind if I did it right away. Things being what they are, here I am now. First year of grad school complete and first week of my internship down!

    Last semester was a doozy. I signed up for one extra elective that I thought would be manageable. Overall, every week was difficult, but I didn’t die. It made finals week head-exploding, but I came out on the other side of that too (there was some serious doubts for a while).

    Without further ado, and in the same order as last time:

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  • Reflection & 2014: second semester here I come!

    Ok, while I’ve updated various parts of this site to hint that yes, the second semester has started, I haven’t officially closed off on the last semester or offered the review as promised. I was so exhausted and brain dead after the last two weeks of the semester that I was pretty much a useless puddle as a sloshed through airport security to head home for winter break.

    And then winter break was as much as a break as I had hoped because I spent most of the time laboring over my new website. I’m happy I did, but when I found myself waiting in the cold for the the Pittsburgh buses again, I didn’t necessarily feel like my brain had been refreshed.

    However, that just what been keeping me. As I was working on and describing all my projects from last semester and I really the amount of things I have learned and worked on and how much I have grown. Even just being the TA for Communication Design Fundamentals made me think more closely about the way I design and organize information. While in the thick of it, it was hard for me to look past the kind of aches of the every day process of going to class, doing homework, reading until your eyes fall out. But working on my portfolio was a good chance to step back.

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  • Product-Service Innovation research

    Seminar I // research notes

    — —

    Our next project for Design Seminar is to do a product-service analysis and write about some potential areas of innovation in the product. The analysis will cover the second half of the semester’s reading including:

    • The affordances of the components
    • The patterns of interaction among target audiences
    • The flow of the use experience (and it’s qualities as a focal object)
    • Theembedded knowledge in the human habits, desires, and inadequacies
    • It’s (and the user’s) anticipation of breakdown
    • It’s co-ordination of promises

    The product-service I’ve chose to analyze is my lunch box:

    (photo via amazon)

    It’s definitely not the perfect lunch box. It was kind of impulse buy. I spent hours researching containers in search of the perfect bento box and gave up. Then I saw this on at the nearby convenient store weeks later and just bought it.

    Now that I’ve been working on this project, I spent a couple more hours pouring over lunch boxes looking for the perfect design. I’m convinced it doesn’t exist yet. Some or the right size, but don’t have the right functions, some have the right functions but aren’t the right size, many aren’t made of sustainable materials, etc, etc. It’s not the point of the assignment to find your dream product, don’t be mistaken there, but now I can’t help thinking about it.

    My requirements are:

    • non-plastic material
    • microwaveable
    • leak-proof
    • not-too big and/or have compartments

    This doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, does it? But it is really hard to find all these things! Plus, for the longest time I was looking for something really well designed, stackable bento boxes that would possibly also be thermal and come with cutlery.

    However, I did come across this product by Frego which I think is really neat. That silicon sleeve just seems like a magical innovation. You think that burning your hands is just part of microwaving stuff–but it isn’t!

    Frego from Chelsie Lopez on Vimeo.

    I forgot that was a think because my current lunch box obviously doesn’t have any problems with that either since it has a silicon base. However, the lid is still plastic and warped. So now the little thing that holds the cutlery doesn’t stay in. Which obviously makes me more unhappy.

    I’m really tempted to buy it, but I don’t know where it would fit into my life right now since I have a tolerable lunch box as it. But I can’t help pining and thought I’d share!

  • ‘Inter-Things’ poster // Final


    It changed quite a bit, I know! I was kind of planning on it just taking a weird new form at the end. I’m very much a person who has an idea but can’t bring it into fruition in a bunch of drafts,I just have to dive and and stay in the pool until I emerge with something. I knew in the back of my head it would be fun and more visually interesting to draw my internet of things rather than list them. In my desk and back pack spaces I have everything draw, in the kitchen space I took some liberties.

    The goal of this project was to show our understanding of the semester’s readings and applying it to our things and spaces. So I wrote about some of my spaces and how one particular object, my glass water bottle, moves through it.

    Here’s a close up of my desk space:

    Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.41.55 AM

  • Latour Reading: Sociology of non-human objects

    Where are the missing masses? The sociology of a few mundane artifacts
    Bruno Latour

    — —

    Bruno Latour is a cheeky Frenchman who is arguing that objects are a moral entity and deserve study in sociology. They affect our interactions in the world and enforce certain morals and values and therefore would be worth studying to make sure they’re implemented wisely.

    It seems strange at first but a couple of points in the argument helped me understand this. Throughout the article Latour talks about a door butler, the mechanism at the top of a door that makes it close after you. He argues that this device represents and enforces societal values. On one level, that we want our doors close and that for whatever reason our current methods of door-closing aren’t working out. We’re not getting people to consistently close doors behind them. Rather than pay or enslave someone to always open and close our doors, we decided that it was more moral to create a device to do it and disperse the value. It kind of seems like a jump, doesn’t it? But in fancy hotels or expensive apartment buildings, they have people at the doors just to open the doors for visitors. They have these human doorman in order to disseminate a certain value. That they are in an extravagant place and that the guests are worth having a human open the door from. But we have a device to replace that person.

    From a different perspective, these non-human objects can should be studied within sociology because they have behavior. A door butler can behave rudely. We think they are the ultimate equalizer because they treat everyone the same always, but we let these mechanisms get away with things we don’t normally let people get away with. Have you ever used one those sensitive door butlers that will slam quickly behind you? Imagine that same action being done by a person, you’d be shocked. Or when a door has a hydraulic mechanism to slow it down but it makes the door really difficult to open. It’s pretty much impossible for the elderly or little children. We would be angry if a doorman did that.

    That’s the basic argument. So then we designers should be thinking about the things we create and what morals they’re reinforcing and how they behave with people. Good design changes the inbetween space between how much people have to do and how much the object does. It accepts the idea that the object has influence of the person and that person + object is different from a person and a object.

    We ended by analyzing the phrase: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Here we can see an object that is easier for us to project morals on to. The argument is fighting whether the object has agency or the person. But as we discuss in class, the gun enables you to be a different person when you’re holding it. Have you ever fired a gun? The first time you did it, how did you feel before and after? At first, I was scared, but after I fired it once, I thought it was pretty neat. It felt powerful. I felt different. It’s the its the person-with-gun that kills people.

    — —

    Another example in the book was the seatbelt safety features in cars and how they enforce a law/moral. These two commercials came up as examples of objects taking human form:

  • Inter-things: Draft 1

    Design Seminar 1//

    This is the first draft of thinking about how objects in our lives relate to one another and influence us. Basically. This is just a starting point and my final will include a lot more of the interaction.

    At first I started with the area rug in my room because I am always so aware of its presence in dividing my room. I find the carpet in my apartment pretty gross, so I use my rug as a sanctuary in my room where I can walk bare foot. I feel like I have to take of my shoes before stepping onto it whereas I wear my shoes every where else in the house.

    Project1-01But then I realize it’s interaction is pretty limited because it I don’t really use the rug as part of a practice and it also doesn’t move into different spaces of my life. So I switched to my glass water bottle which I also purchased and use very intentionally:



    Still not extensive, but it’s well on it’s way! I’m pretty excited to work on this more and really draw out the concepts we learned in class. Stay tune, folks!


  • Seminar, Week 7: Things That Mattter


    “Things That Matter” 
    Peter-Paul Verbeek & Petran Kockelkoren

    — —

    First, an introduction: Seminar is one of my favorite classes. It’s very theory based and pushes me to think about design and design interaction in the context of philosophy, anthropology, and futurism. Our professor finally got fed up and insisted that none of us bring up marketing and productization anymore in his class. And in my head it was like a slow “yessssssssssssss” that fades out only after five real-time minutes. As he put it, we already know how to think in terms of products. He’s trying to get to think outside of products.

    I think I want to try to use my entries about seminar as just a way to quickly regurgitate my thoughts on the week and attempt to organize them. And there are a lot of thoughts that need organizing. I’m sorry that you’re missing the first few weeks, but luckily we had an assignment to summarize four them so I’ll repost when I get them back.

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