IDSA National Conference
IDSA 2006 Day 1 afternoon sessions

IDSA 2006 Day 1 general session

Morning presentation at the IDSA National Conference and Education Symposium focused on the human element.

Stephen Wilcox went through a brief history of the "human" element in Industrial Design. It is basically a movement from design based on intuition (Christopher Dresser in 1885) to seat-of-the-pants methods (Henry Dreyfuss in 1929) to enter the psychologists (1980s) and then the Anthropologists in 1995. It is the amount of human variation that makes designng today more complex.

Although his history was Western-centric in its history, what I liked about his presentation was that he talked about the combined strenght of Design and the Social Sciences. He says that the Social Sciences are strong on rigor and Design is strong on relevance. (Arc WW called it Accountability and Creativity.) Like Yin Yang, they complement each other, which is the argument that I have been making about Anthropology and Design.

Next Bill Moggridge, co-founder of IDEO spoke about the complexity of design.  Like all IDEO presentations, it was visually stunning and based on interviews for his book, Designing Interactions, to be released next month, which I will make all my design students buy for the DVD. He talked about in the 1960s all you needed to know was the sizes of people, now chips that allow feedback, the internet, screens the size of phones, environmental sustainability, and nanotechnology, and globalization has made designing interactions complicated.

Bill Green, emeritus from Canberry University, gave a presentation on inclusive design. His arguments for why it should be called inclusive design and not universal design was powerful, "I never liked universal design. Universal has connotations of one size fits all." The reframing of inclusive design to who are you excluding has interesting implications for the design of personas. He said inclusive design should be based on four questions:

The key question for any designer is: by designing product or service in this way, whom do I exclude? Students don’t like going to tables. Design the table then plug into system and it will tell you whom will it exclude. Do I want to exclude these people? How do I change the design in order not to exclude? Do what you do, but think about who are you excluding. Why should I care?

He gave two sets of examples of inclusive design innovations:

  1. Those based on mainstream products that are accessible to specialized communities (ex. Oxo Good Grips, Sandbugger)
  2. Those which are specialized products that have mainstream appeal. (ex. all of his examples were from the automotive industry especially work going on with Toyota i-Unit and Welcab)

Jamer Hunt was the last presenter of the session. I am not the only anthropologists. He supposedly has a Ph.D. in Anthropology. He focused on the incorporation of technology into the human body. His presentation was the most scholarly in terms of tying the meaning of prosthetics to ideas of Western humanism (the notion of the mind contained within the body). He thesis is that with the movement from ornamental, instumental, to enhancement prosthetics there are momumental social shifts taking place:

  • From mass to information (disintergration)
  • From force to connection, how fast can you connect
  • From the body as the seat of self to plastic material
  • and the Ego (mind) is just another node in network

The questions are what wil be the ethics, institutions, and implementors of these new form of post-humanistic humans. I did have a question about his use of Western Humanism, because other cultures do not have that way of thinking of the human, so if they developed enhanced prosthetics is it not a rupture but continuation.

The morning was cool. As an anthropologist, I feel recognized that we "belong" in Industrial Design, which is cool. More on the afternoon later.


The comments to this entry are closed.