Sunday, May 13, 2007

Our Lives Today Are All About Change & Transformation

“How are our lives different today?
Our lives today are all about change and transformation.
We are now at our homes typing on our computers.
We have WiFi.
We are on our cell phones.
Work, life- it’s all sort of coming into one place.

That means that the products we use
Have to have this ability
To adopt, to change, to transform,
To align with our emotions we are in at that particular point.”

Yves Béhar, May 7, 2007

So we need to change and transform these days, and the products we use need to be able to do it too. What creates the change- life circumstances, ourselves, or the products themselves? It seems all of the above, actually.

The possibility of a change imposed or encouraged by the products expresses the importance of design and the tremendous responsibility of the designer. The design is not just about form, texture, cover, etc, it is about seeing the future, and showing & expressing it in the design. It is a process involving both the right and the left-brain modes.


Background: Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the New Yorker Conference: “2012: Stories From the Near Future”. One of the speakers was Yves Béhar, an industrial designer and founder of the Fuse Project. He talked about various projects including the One Laptop Per Child project and on the role of design.
For more information, see the video at Design: 2012.
I will relate to other points raised at the New Yorker Conference in some of my next blog entries.


Lee said...

I found this talk by Yves Béhar very intriguing at many, many levels. I agree with Béhar that design is about collaboration with the work team of architects, product marketers, managers, software developers, engineers, scientists - but first and foremost design is about relationship with the user/customer of the product being built. This brings a level of open-endedness into the arena of design and naturally gives rise to questions including - how is the user or developer reacting to a prototype or the current representation of the product? Is it simple to use? How long does it take for the customer to learn to do something that is meaningful to her?

I believe herein lies the roots of the aversion often seen in corporate culture toward integrating human emotion and user experience into the product development process. Instead of viewing the user's experience and reactions as an opportunity to learn and build a stronger relationship, many designers think that chaos will result from having such a dynamic interaction. But what is the alternative? This reminds of the story of Eastman Kodak. Long before the digital camera revolution, the people at Kodak learned from its customers that the company was not selling film or high resolution images - no Kodak was in the business of enabling people to share memories and time spent together, vacations, exciting places and emotions.

Béhar gives a marvelous example of why it is vital to understand the user’s environment and experience. In order for the “One Laptop Per Child Project” to be successful at reaching the customer base envisioned, the constraints on available power need to be accounted for; hence, the manual power generator is an essential value-add.

With the accelerating changes of the 21st Century, including the growing emphasis upon human-machine interaction, do we design teams have something to learn from our customers and users, whoever they may be today or tomorrow?

Schmooz said...

The interaction between developers (of all kinds) and customers is indeed a collaboration and not one side imposes his or her will on the others. "The customer is always right" for sure since the customer can choose not to use the product. But, a good design will "convince" the customer to change his or her habits for an advantage. Easier said than done though. How to do that? This is an Art • Science • Balance!

Phyllis said...

People should read this.