Design, Technology, Empathy: A Contemporary Issue in the Conception and Production of Artifacts

“Design, technology, empathy” collects in a revised form a series of short essays written and published by the author between 2013 and 2017, as the editor of the Rassegna Section in Domus. Nowadays, at a time when it is increasingly difficult to define shared needs and scenarios towards projects for the common good, a new dyad, ‘Design and Empathy’, seems to be a good summary of the expanding range of individual needs and desires the design promises to satisfy. This condition can affect educational approaches to design, requiring a new way of thinking technology, methods and tools for the training and teaching of design: a new attitude towards the materiality of things, alongside the evanescent, immaterial illusion of the Internet of things. Contents are organized into homogeneous thematic clusters, ranging from design to technology, concept, languages and production.

H+ Design: Time, Space, Human, Machine

The merging of human and machine, natural and artificial, that we are starting to witness is something to which that we must pay attention. In this regard, a manifesto was presented with the intent to alert designers to the real needs of humans that somehow have been neglected as well as the possible consequences on humanity by blindly using new technological advancements on products. With a similar purpose, a new design approach called H+design was presented, that considers more the social needs which make us human. Its main purpose is to help designers to be able to create the next human nature by predicting more accurately the future possibilities of technology and its possible uses without disregarding the human needs.

Computational by Design

The contemporary material culture—everyday objects surrounding us—is dominated by mass manufactured products, but Digital Fabrication together with Computational Design (also called generative or parametric design) promises a shift towards substantially personalizable products, in a relatively cost-effective way. Considering this shift an opportunity for designers, the book argues that in order to consolidate the practice of developing personalizable products, designers need to change their focus from convergent to divergent user needs and desires, leaving room for the creative contributions of the users in the design of their objects, thus converting them from simple users to (computational) co-designers. Albeit such “on-demand” products are still rare in the everyday environment, there are numerous appreciable examples, which led to the recognition of six recurring personalization principles—or user motivations—of both mechanical and cognitive nature. Based on these, the book proposes a design approach the systematic replicating the observed principles on any product typology, with the support of a new design tool: a canvas that guides the designer’s thinking towards product concepts to which personalization is essential. The proposed tool might help designers to spread personalisable design across many product categories, thus creating new business opportunities coherently with the recent development of the Industry 4.0 paradigm. On the long term, this might promote a more active role of the user in shaping the material culture, both through improving functionality and through new ways of creating meaning.

Alternative Perceptions of Design: From Lucy to Bernini

Just think about how many objects you’ve used, from the moment you woke up this morning to the moment you sat down to read this book. The toothbrush, the cup you used to drink your coffee, the clothes you put on, the chair or sofa you’re sitting on and the tablet you may be using to read this book. The fact is that we live in a world of design—totally surrounded by designed objects. They are so ubiquitous that it is hard to imagine a world without them. Every single object that we use or have is the result of a thought process involving designers, engineers, manufacturers, and technology. Where did it all start? What were the historical and social influences that brought about these culturally multi-coded objects? In this volume, we try to answer these questions using a multi-disciplinary approach, combining design theories, history, and design anthropology. By considering design in its broadest sense we hope to present an alternative perception of design, unlike the classic type of introductory volumes dedicated to the subject. Using examples from industrial design, graphic design, and architecture, the book is laid out thematically, rather than chronologically. Starting with design in the Paleolithic era and then the Neolithic revolution, our journey takes us through prehistoric, ancient history, medieval times, Renaissance, and Baroque design as it manifested in religion, militarism, political agendas, topography, and historical creativity. Naturally, while the history of design is the main issue of this volume, it is rooted in contemporary socio-cultural developments, aiming to offer an alternative approach to practitioners and anyone else who is interested in the fascinating world of design.

Digital Interfaces in Situations of Mobility: Cognitive, Artistic, and Game Devices

This book is the result of an international program of conferences and round tables in Paris 1 Sorbonne with participants from Japan, Canada, England, Switzerland, Malta, and France. The participants consider the growing number of artistic, digital, fictional, and game devices that are based on user mobility and interaction through digital interfaces. Through exploration, experimentation, and the creation of alternate reality art devices, questions about the limits between real, virtual, and fictional worlds are discussed. The characteristics of these three worlds and their confrontation with one another require new ways of elaborating and analyzing creations.

Psychology’s New Design Science: Theory and Research

Psychology’s New Design Science: Theory & Research opens a conversation about how psychology, psychiatry, and the counseling professions will adopt technology as an extension of its skill and expertise. We propose that design reasoning and design thinking can play an important role in assisting the field of mental health as it embraces technology and begins to explore what it means to move expertise beyond current health care settings. We have placed our subject in historical context; a “where have we been” and “where are we going” narrative that points to the lineage of thought that has led to design thinking as a natural extension of clinical knowledge. The clinical literature is comprised of three dominant modes of discussion: a) theory which explores and defines the healing process, b) techniques of psychotherapy which are addressed to clinicians, and c) case studies by both clinicians and patients reporting on their experiences of recovery. Our book offers a fourth conversation which includes design reasoning as an established means for applying theory and research to mental health treatment.

Design for Social Innovation in Canada

Design has always played a role in the process of production, transformations in society and the economy, shifts in technology and impacts on the environment. The nature of the changes created by our post-industrial era is challenging the character of design and its role in society.

The post-industrial era is creating complex projects for technology, service, systems, strategy and products. Clients are even becoming undefined stakeholders, and this can be extended to the entire community and the environment.

The rise of digital technology and the knowledge society are introducing a new culture, which can be open, participatory, shared and collaborative. Here the designer is acting as a researcher, always questioning the character of the project, its outcomes and process. Open access, co-design, crowdfunding, digital manufacturing, open-source, DIY, enabling systems and networking can be included in the toolbox of the designer and can create opportunities to drive the change towards sustainability, equity and democracy. Social innovation is leveraging forms of collaboration and co-production in which designers, innovators, users and communities co-create knowledge and solutions for a wide range of social needs, exploiting the networking technologies.

This book explores a number of areas where design can contribute to face the contemporary transformations in our society with real-life collaborative research and innovation projects. Through a number of Canadian social innovation case studies collected in social, environmental and technological fields, we recognize how the role of the designer cannot be limited to the production of finished objects; rather, designers can create tools and platforms to help users and citizens participate in projects, even allowing forms of personalization.