Thoughtful Interaction Design: A Design Perspective on Information Technology by Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman was an eye opener for me, mainly because it is one of the few design related books/articles that I have actually read so far. Reminding me of the importance of doing so for there is still so much to learn in this field.
One of which is the intriguing aspect that the role of the designer is important. In fact, far more so than I had previously had recognised. Definitely, I was aware that designers have the ability to shape and influence the public with what we create. But this sentence from the opening paragraph elevates and aptly phrases my feelings towards our job scope:
“We live in an artificial world. It is a world made up of environments, systems, processes, and things that are imagined. formed, and produced by humans…Someone has to decide their function, form, and structure…”
Hence, personally the role of a designer is akin of a gatekeeper. For we have the ability to decide the hierarchy of information, the details that is to be highlighted/hidden, the organisation, structuring or categorisation of the final product and so on. Hence a point that I want to apply in my own working process in the future is to always ask myself what and how I want the user to experience from my works.
Because the book highlights that we do not just create for the sake of meeting a clients brief or to create something beautiful, but instead we ought to be thoughtful designers.
“Being thoughtful is abut caring for your own design ability, the designs you produce, and how the world will be changed by your design ideas and decisions. A thoughtful designer is someone who takes design as a serious and important task and who tries to become a designer with the ability to create something fascinating, authentic and useful digital artefacts”
What are we creating for? It is easy to create something interesting and beautiful on the surface. But personally it is always important to remember the message we want to impart to the viewers.
And what I like the most is the fact that it balances the idealistic role of the designer by underlining the fact that designers does face undesirable restrictions and limitations that might affect our final output. For example, having short deadlines or unreasonable requirements. But the authors aptly says that:
“Blaming poor designs on the preconditions ns the situation is not a way to avoid responsibility…Being successful in design means being able to handle the everyday practicalities, and to deal successfully (or at least adequately) with different technical and social contexts”
Which is basically saying, “Suck it up and keep grinding”.
To me, this book empowers my idea of what a good designer should be. And despite my reluctance to read this piece due to the number of words and pages, I am really glad to have embraced this reading and will definitely keep these information in mind for my future work.
One work that showcases the work of thoughtful design is the Estonian Forest Installation that is created from interior architecture students from the Estonian Academy of Art.
This piece enables users to relax in these megaphone structures that captures and amplifies all the beautiful foresty noise of its surroundings at Võrumaa, near the Latvian border.
Thoughtful design created and executed by students, meaning that we very well have the ability to do so too. It taps on the densely forested areas of Estonia and elevates the people’s experience of the forest. This is not only a spot which locals now enjoy, but one where foreigners flock to as well.
Hence for our very own projects, what are somethings within our environment we can tap on that might be overlooked in our daily lives? What sort of experiences and message can it bring to the people who interact with it? And lastly, this assignment makes me think about the kind of designer I want to be.
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