I’ve read “Chapter 1 of Thoughtful Interaction Design by Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman” before during my user experience in design class but reading it again still gave me fresh and new perspectives to think about. The reading mainly talks about what makes a good design, design theory and some core concepts: interaction design, design process, design situation, and digital artifact.
21 Balançoires is an interactive installation that consists simply of swings. When in motion, each swing triggers different notes, and when used all together, the swings create a musical composition in which certain melodies emerge only through cooperation. This collaborative exercise stimulates intuitive play and experimentation amongst people of all ages and backgrounds, whether they know each other or not, and leads participants and spectators to become aware of each other, and their environment.
“An extremely fast and efficient digital artifact is hardly good design if it is not understood by its users. Outstanding user interface intelligibility is pointless if the basic functions of the artifact fail to satisfy the users’ needs.”
Just as in this work, the usage of swings is immediately understood by people of all ages since its like an everyday life kind of thing and most people would immediately be inclined to sit and swing on it. Since the work is simple for people to understand, nothing needs to be even told to them what to do because their first instincts would probably be to sit and swing. While enjoying the swing, they would also at the same time catch on to the aspect of the sounds that would be emitted due to their swinging. Hence, overall the building of it might not be simple but to users, the user interface is easy and simple which i think is more important.
“Design theory is also knowledge focused on creating new conditions for design, different patterns of thinking and acting, new design examples, and a general understanding of the conditions for creative and innovative work.”
In the work, the concept of cooperation is explored: ”Cooperation emerges when the behaviour of each individual depends on the decisions of the rest of the group: it’s a game where, from the start, you need to adjust to the actions of others.” With these in mind, the swing is not just your everyday playground kind of swing but instead it is part of something bigger than just an individual, it is about collaboration. By only allowing each swing to trigger a different note, and when used all together, it will then create certain melodies emerge only through cooperation, it causes people to approach and use the swings different and also how their interaction with others would be, no matter stranger or known.
“Design is about shaping the world we live in by creating the conditions, opportunities, and restrictions that will make up that world. Design means that you influence people’s work, leisure, and everyday.”
Ultimately, the work allows for stimulating a sense of community and ownership of space but also a vibrant place for playing and hanging out in the middle of the city center. This would have been probably less possible without the design of this work that calls for collaboration and for people to take some time out from their busy schedules, slow down and just enjoy. Those are the opportunities created so what about the restrictions? It is simple, users are simple restricted to creating certain melodies if played by themselves, since they can only produce one sound, they would be forced to talk and interact with others to achieve whatever melodies they want. The best part is also that the melodies would change depending on how people use the swings hence, it would be almost impossible to get bored of it.
Overall, I choose this work to accompany my reading reflection because I think it is very effective in what it is designed for because of its simplicity, allowing for creativity and also a created space in a high-traffic area for interaction amongst people.