All posts tagged design

  • Buchanan | Declaration by Design: Rhetoric, Argument, and Demonstration in Design Practice

    Literature review: Buchanan, Richard (1985) Declaration by Design: Rhetoric, Argument, and Demonstration in Design Practice. Design Issues, Vol. 17, No. 3

    What is the author’s main argument?

    Building off the idea that “designers have directly influenced the actions of individuals and communities, changed attitudes and values, and shaped society in surprisingly fundamental ways (6), Buchanan argues that we should looking at this potential to direct humans through design as rhetorical. “Their persuasion comes through arguments presented in things rather than words; they present ideas in manipulation of the materials and processes of nature, not language” (7). He describes the three elements of argument through design as technological reasoning, character, and emotion. For example, how design declares its use and existence. Clearly, it’s not a passive object. Buchanan argues that looking at design through a rhetorical lens can help guide the practice of design (19).

    How is might this be relevant to my thesis?

    Buchanan explicitly argues for design to be interpreted as a rhetorical communication/a persuasive argument. He outlines how and why he feels like this is a significant contribution the design. As an established design theorist I can build off his theories. I should note that this is an older article.


  • Fallman | The Interaction design Research Triangle…

    Literature review: Fallman, Daniel. “The Interaction Design Research Triangle of Design Practice, Design Studies, and Design Exploration.” Design Issues 24.3 (2008): 4-18. Print.

    What is the main argument of the author?

    The goal of this paper was to present ‘refined models of interaction design research; embracing both what it currently is as well as pointing towards what it could be…” through tools that Fallman creates (4). He basically outlines the three ways that design research models: industry, academia, and society. He describes the different ways we approach and research design from these areas but encourages to work consider a more fluid way of moving between the models in order to create better designs.

    Some of the high-level differences he notes are that industry is more concerned with long-term collaborations and the industry. Academia is more concerned with building an intellectual tradition with reflections on the design field and what they could mean for the future. Finally, design exploration isn’t concerned with commercialization, but rather sketching or experimenting with things speculatively to shape the future.


    Thallman’s detailed triangle.

    Why might this be relevant to my thesis?

    I’m not sure. Maybe a final form for whatever my thesis is to take? The thing is, I still feel like this creates too much distance between practicing designers and academics. Like, this paper is talking about the need for these types of researchers to interface more in order to enhance whatever industry they are working in—but the only people who are reading this are probably academics. I do want my thesis to effect more people. Food for thought.


  • Lang | Creating Architectural Theory

    Literature review: Lang, Jon. “The Modern Movement, Architectural Theory, and the Behavioral Sciences.” Creating Architectural Theory: The role of the behavioral sciences in environmental design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. 1-29. Book.

    This was another reading from Cameron. Architects and designers are compared a lot, apparently, and so my thesis advisor thought it would be helpful to know the the lessons architecture has learned over the years and how it they might be related to design.

    What is the main argument of the author?

    The author is calling for architecture to learn from the behavioral sciences to help their profession understand what present trends in society are a in order to better predict the results of their design (29). Lnag believes that currently (in 1987) architects haven’t been concerned enough about the implications of their designs and what it might be like to actually use the spaces they create or even considering how the space would be used (or human behavior) as architects worked on them. He is pushing for architecture to be a more theory-focused discipline and describes the profession as believing they have some magical common sense that other people don’t have so that they can work of of intuition rather than a standard practice. He then goes on to propose some ways that architects can start building theory-based practice.

    Why is this relevant to my thesis?

    If it didn’t pop into your head while reading that already, what I see is a parallel between how a practicing designer works and how Lang describes architects. They are happy believe they have a special gift and doing things on intuition rather than using a theoretical foundations. I think all of us in grad school are pulled from that because we’re forced to learn about various design theories—but the majority of designers aren’t. It describes the exigence to learn and borrow from other fields, like I propose to do with rhetoric studies. However, I also realize this paper is quite old and, from being in grad school, I feel pretty good about there being a comfortable amount of theory on design out there.

    However however, I still think there is so much design (and most other fields!) can learn from rhetoric studies. It’s one of the oldest fields out there and so it can’t be helped that so much of it has been studied. Besides that, I can’t help but think that language so-much influences our thoughts and so even just using a metaphor between design & language might really help solidify design literacy.


  • Redström | Definitions of use

    Literature review: Redström, Johan. “RE: Definitions of Use.” Design Studies 29.4 (2008): 410-23. Web.

    My thesis advisor sent this article to me after I told him that I was interested in studying interaction design in use in the same way that sociolinguists became interested in studying language in use instead of just looking at semantic meaning.

    But anyway, however I got this article before me, I really enjoyed it. It makes some important distinctions in order to bring some precision to a blanket term. Redström comes from the understanding that “designing a technical object is also typically entails designing, or prescribing it’s use” so we must always consider its context (411). He then makes distinctions between intended use and actual use.

    Some of the main points were…

    Thing-design vs use-design. We design an object, a chair, to do a a particular thing: sit. He points out that this is different from form & function because we’re talking in terms of how we use it, now not on the thing.

    use through design: “what one does when expressing a specific notion of what it is to sit through how the chair is design”

    use through use “When someone defines what a given thing is by using it in a certain way.” For example, a person might actually sit a completely different way.

    before use: designing things before it’s actually tested and used by a participant. Like a prototype? What designers do when they’re creating a new product

    After design: How the product is actually used, or defining use by use after design (416).  They describe how this can be a continuous process whereby the participant uses the designed object in different ways and so the design should always be considered unfinished works or ‘continuous designs’ (417).

    use-design: Not just designing the thing (thing-design) but prescribing its intended use.

    Why is this is relevant to my thesis?

    Well, I don’t think this is what I was exactly looking for when I was writing about my project, but regardless I thought it was a super interesting article and I’m glad I read it. It kind of describes the relationship that I’m interested in design—that it’s not a finished product where you’re coercing a user to behave a certain way, but that it’s a negotiated process where the heart of the action actually in how a person interact with your…interaction design. I waffle between thinking that this is extraordinary to “duh.” Regardless, it was a really well written paper with a solid summary of similar works that I know will marinade in how I view design even if I don’t use it for my thesis directly.


  • Saffer | Microinteractions

    Literature review // Saffer, Dan. Microinteractions. Beijing: O’Reilly, 2013.

    What is the author’s main argument?

    Saffer describes microinteractions and explains what they can do for interactions (and how to implement them). He does this groups such as: triggers, rules, feedback, and loops & modes. His argument seems to be that implementing thoughtful micro interactions will create a better macro experience for users. He’s asking designers to be aware and implement them in their own work. Often I found that it pushed the design from the “least amount of work necessary” to the surprising and delightful.

    One “Little big details” I found was that the Vimeo 404 page title changes from Vimeo to….

    Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.24.18 PM

    These are the examples he’s more concerned with in his book (or at least that he takes more delight in). He explores how these small details of user experience enhance the overall product. And, perhaps, by thinking about these micro experiences we can create better big experiences because they tie into the system as a whole. They require careful planning on when and where they occur and to do this we must look at the larger system.

    The most interesting section I found was the section on feedback, which is something I think is unique to interaction design compared to other mediums like writing. Now that I’m considering it though, I guess tangible artifacts like…even scissors or something give you feedback when you interact with it. When you pick it up you you know it’s weight. when you open and close it you sense how smooth the movement is…food for thought.

    How is this relevant?

    It was important to get a list of additional types of interactions from Saffer. His section on feedback (page 90) was especially interesting to me as a list of when they should occur and why. He talks about how these stylistic details create and identity of the company/interface creator which I also thought was interesting.


    Sidenote: Our entire class has been thoroughly entertained by Saffer’s deep disappointment in our educations, expressed over Twitter. 

  • Urbanized | Gary Hustwit documentary

    Urbanized by Gary Hustwit

    What does a documentary about urbanization have to do with my thesis? I guess not much more than everything in the whole world is designed and new perspectives always add value to a thesis on design. And an incredible perspective it was, I really like Hustwit documentaries in general.

    The landscape urban designers work with is a different kind of complex that we deal with on a digital landscape. One of my favorite things that he brought up was the shift from urban designers committing top-level designers (designing from above and forcing designs on people, like Brasília, Brazilla and Robert Moses for NYC) to designs/designers who reflect the needs of the people because they live on the ground and understand the community dynamics. The understand what things need to be in place to help a community thrive where people feel really connected to each other and have the luxury of living more sustainably because it’s easier. For instance, everything’s within walking distance so they won’t have to drive everywhere.

    They obviously reflects the kinds of things that designers need to consider when they’re designing for users. To work from the ground up and really understand the needs of the people while at the same time pushing them towards productive behavior.

    Also, I just wanted to watch that movie. Highly recommend.