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EDITED BY: David Durling, Rabah Bousbaci, Lin-Lin Chen, Philippe Gauthier, Tiiu Poldma, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Erik
EDITED BY: David Durling, Rabah Bousbaci, Lin-Lin Chen, Philippe Gauthier, Tiiu Poldma, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Erik

EDITED BY: David Durling, Rabah Bousbaci, Lin-Lin Chen, Philippe Gauthier, Tiiu Poldma, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Erik Stolterman

BY: David Durling, Rabah Bousbaci, Lin-Lin Chen, Philippe Gauthier, Tiiu Poldma, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Erik Stolterman
BY: David Durling, Rabah Bousbaci, Lin-Lin Chen, Philippe Gauthier, Tiiu Poldma, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Erik Stolterman
BY: David Durling, Rabah Bousbaci, Lin-Lin Chen, Philippe Gauthier, Tiiu Poldma, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Erik Stolterman





The Role of Interaction Design in Information and Communication Technologies Embedded Product Development Activity

Canan Akoglu, Alpay Er


A Survey of Definition and its Role in Strengthening Design Theory

Robert Andruchow


Interaction Designers' Conceptions of Design Quality for Interactive Artifacts

Mattias Arvola


Emergences du design et complexite semantique des sextoys

Claire Azema, Stephanie Cardoso, Marc Monjou


Sustainable Collaborative Services on the Digital Platform: Definition and Application

Joon Sang Baek, Ezio Manzini. Francesca Rizzo


A Competitive Game-based Method for Brainstorming and Evaluating Early Stage Design Ideas in Terms of their Likelihood of Success in the Marketplace

Tom Barker


The Impact of Modular Product Design on Innovation Compared with Design from First Principles

Tom Barker, Vasilije Kokotovich


Beyond the Designers' View: How People with Autism Experience Space

Stijn Baumers, Ann Heylighen


Modelisation semiotique et systemique de I'objet design comme signe-action complexe

Sarah Belkhamsa, Bernard Darras


Dis/Ability Teaches Design!

Tom Bieling


Dynamique forme-Iumiare : Un processus de creation et d'analyse de I'espace architectural par modales maquettes/images

Karole Biron, Claude M.H. Demers


Complexity in Home Medical Equipment Design

Noemi Bitterman


Barrier Analysis as a Design Tool in Complex Safety Critical Systems

Johan Blomkvist. Amy Rankin, Daniel Anundi, Stefan Holmlid


Complexities of Teaching and Learning Collaborations with International Partners: The Global Studio

Erik Bohemia; Kerry Harman


Intensive Studio Experience in a Non-studio Masters Program: Student Activities and Thinking Across Levels of Design

Elizabeth Boling, Kennon M. Smith


When Will Customers Claim Their Rights as Empowered And Creative Human Beings? - a rhetorical perspective on co-creation

Kirsten Bonde S0rensen






Reframing Business - and Design? - A Critical Look at Co-creation

Kirsten Bonde Smensen, Malene Leerberg

Expanding Design Space: Design-In-Use Activities and Strategies

Andrea Botero, Kari-Hans Kommonen, Sanna Marttila

Food Orbits: A Novel Design Tool for Complex Systems

Stephen Brogan, Seaton Baxter

Poetics as a Strategy of Inquiry: Productive Science in Design Practice and Research

Kaja Tooming Buchanan

Visual Creativity and the Threshold of Uncertainty in Product and Automotive Design

Karen Bull, Michael Tovey

0254 Joinedupdesign for Academies: Enhancing Design Learning through Complexity

John Butcher, Friedemann Schaber

0267 Design History education and the Use of the Design Brief as an Interpretative Framework for Sustainable Practice

John Calvelli

0279 Everyday People: Enabling User Expertise in Socially Responsible Design

Christine Caruso, Lois Frankel

From ontologies to Folksonomies. A Design-driven Approach from Complex Information to Bottom-up Knowledge

Matteo Ciastellardi, Cristina Miranda de Almeida, Derrick de Kerckhove



0305 Dynamique des ambiances lumineuses par rei eves video de transition

Mathieu Coulombe, Claude M.H. Demers, Andre Potvin

0320 Consumption Experience in Running: How Design Influences this Phenomenon

Filipe Campelo Xavier da Costa, Celso Carnos Scaletsky, Gustavo Daudt Fischer

0330 SCENARIO: The User Profiles Methods Applied to Product Design

Denise Dantas

0343 Converting the Participants' Verbal Expressions into Design Factors

Neda Ghadir, Dawood M. Garavand, Ali Faraji


The Success of Designer-producers in Quebec

Andre Desrosiers

0366 Design, Democracy and Agonistic Pluralism

Carl DiSalvo

0372 An Exploratory Study of Scientists' Perceptions of Design and Designers

Alex Driver, Carlos Peralta, James Moultrie

0383 Developing a Framework for Mapping Sustainable Design Activities

Bernhard Dusch, Nathan Crilly, James Moultrie


Understanding the Practical Challenges of Moving from Closed to Open Source Collaborative Design

Natalie Ebenreuter


Taylorisme, Fordisme et Toyotisme : comment Ie design management a

construit les principaux modeles productifs de la theorie des organisations

Nabil EI Hilali, Jean Pierre Mathieu


Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles: New Parameters for Automotive Design

Stuart G. English, Matteo conti


Value Innovation Modelling: Design Thinking as a Tool for Business Analysis and Strategy

Stuart G. English, Tim Moor, William Jackson


Looking to the Future; a Response to the Challenges of Design Education in the 21" Century Using C&IT

Elaine Evans


Influential Elements of Creativity in Art, Architecture, and Design Creative Processes: A Grounded Theory Analysis

Ahmad Fakhra, Judith Gregory


Epistemological Positions Informing Theories of Design Research:

Implications for the Design Discipline and Design Practice

Luke Feast


Innovation Methods in Story-Driven Games: Genre Variation

Clara Fernandez-Vara


Reading the Tea Leaves: Patterns of Theorisation About Design Research

Joseph Frances


The Complex Field of Research: for Design, through Design, and about Design

Lois Frankel. Martin Racine


Caracterisation des activites collectives reunissant designers et chercheurs

Clement Gault. Anne-France Kogan


Synergizing Positivistic and Aesthetic Approaches to Improve the Development of Interactive, Visual Systems Design Michael R. Gibson, Daniel Peak, Victor Prybutok


Design Fiction: A Method Toolbox for Design Research in a Complex World

Simon Grand, Martin Wiedmer


Visual Means for Collaboration Across Disciplines

Merce Graell-Colas


Experiential, Embedded, Electronic - Integrating Academic Skills Into The Art And Design Curriculum

Alke Gr6ppel-Wegener


Is Model-Making Sketching in Design?

Benay Gursoy, Mine Ozkar



Human Photographs on Trust in Bank Websites SeungYeon Ha, Sunghyun R. Kang


Seeding Social Technologies: Strategies for Embedding Design in Use Penny Hagen, Toni Robertson


Understanding Senior Design Students' Product Conceptual Design Activities: A Comparison Between Industrial and Engineering Design Students Hao Jiang, Ching-Chiuan Yen


Design Education as a Practice of Affiliation: Facilitating Dialogue Between Developed and Developing Nations Robert Harland, Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos


Embodiment, Immediacy and Thinghood in the Designof Human- Computer Interaction Fabian Hemmert. Gesche Joost


The Inclusive Incapability-Culture-Economy Cube: A design framework for complex barriers Praima Israsena Na Ayudhya


Far Beyond Dualisms in Methodology - An Integrative Design Research Medium "MAPS" Wolfgang Jonas, Rosan Chow, Katharina Bredies, Kathrin Vent


In Touch with Representation: Iconic, Indexical and Symbolic Signification in Tangible User Interfaces Gesche Joost. Fabian Hemmert


Rethinking System Diagrams: from Arranging Components to Organizing Action, Thought, and Possibility Soojin Jun, Miso Kim, Joonhwan Lee


Conceptualizations of the Materiality of Digital Artifacts and their Implications for Sustainable Interaction Design Heekyoung Jung, Eli Blevis, Erik Stolterman


Motion Design for Nonverbal Communication with a Humanoid Robot Jinyung Jung, Myungsuk Kim


Design Naturally, Dealing with Complexity of Forms in Nature & Applying it in Product Design Parsa Kamehkhosh, Alireza Ajdari, Yassa man khodadadeh


Catching Wasps and Baking Dinosaurs: Experiences from Co-designing with Children I.e. MariAnne Karlsson, Pont us Engelbrektsson


Knowledge Transfer from Designers to Home Crafts Makers: Negotiating Methods to Study Actions in Context Cigdem Kaya, Chris Rust


Ontological Design Ways of Sustainable Intervention: A Conceptual Framework Hyewon Kim


Speculative Visualization: A New Rhetoric for Communicating Public Concerns Tanyoung Kim, Carl DiSalvo


Sensemaking and Framing: A Theoretical Reflection on Perspective


Design Synthesis

Jon Kolko


Interaction and Mediation in Preadmission Clinics: Implications for the Design of a Telehealth Stethoscope Ben Kraal, Vesna Popovic



Proposal for the Web 2.0 Revolution in Online Design Education:

Opportunities for Virtual Design Learning Using Social Networking


Karen Kwan


Identifying Familiarity in Older and Younger Adults Simon Lawry, Vesna Popovic, Alethea Blackler


Complexit~ architecturale et assistance informatique Caroline Lecourtois


Transformative Design: From Consultant to Clinician Robert Lederer, Ben King, Heather Logan



Comparison and Analysis of Usability Methods for Web Evaluation:

The Relationship Between Typical Usability Test and Bio-Signals Characteristics (EEG, ECG) Haeinn Lee, Ssanghee Seo


Design research and the Complexity Encountered in People's Critical Thoughts Yong-Ki Lee, Kun-Pyo Lee


An Investigation into Features of Design Thinking in Fast Moving Consumer Goods Brand Development: Integration and Collaboration Younjoon Lee, Martyn Evans


Resonance rather than Solo: Shaping a Regional Image with Soundscape Yu-Chiao Lee, Li-Shu Lu


Consultancy Designer Involvement in New Product Development in Mature Product Categories: Who Leads, the Designer or the Marketer? Fiona Maciver, Aidan O'Driscol1


When Artists and Designers Inspire Collective Intelligence Practices: Two Case Studies of Collaboration, Interdisciplinarity, and Innovation Projects Isabelle Mahy, Mithra Zahedi


Perspectives on Critical Design: a Conversation with Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor Matthew Malpass


Design Research: Towards a History Victor Margolin


Representation-phobia and the Complexity of Embodied Interaction Thomas Markussen


Lighting Design: Non-visual Impacts and its Influence on Employees' Health and Well-being Betina Tschiedel Martau, Paulo Sergio Scarazzato, Maria Paz Loyhza Hidalgo, Iraci Torres, Clarice Luz


Interactive Tools and Online Communities that Support Media Literacy Lane Marty Maxwell. Rinnert Gretchen


The ASD Friendly Classroom - Design Complexity, Challenge and Characteristics Keith McAllister


Collaborative Design Pedagogy: An Examination of the Four Levels of Collaboration K, Thomas McPeek, Laura Morthland


The Construction of Complexity in Design and Public Policy Contexts Chris Urbina Meierling


Sustainable Alternatives to Industrial Printing Practices: A Case Study Analysis of Esquire Magazine and Electronic Paper Display Christopher Moore


Designing Design Learning: A Case Study Gale Moore, Danielle Lottridge, Karen Smith


Set in Concrete? Crafting Innovation Ruth Morrow, Trish Belford


Sketching in Hardware and Building Interaction Design: Tools, Toolkits and an Attitude for Interaction Designers Camille Moussette, Fabricio Dore


Designing for Cultural Diversity: Participatory Design, Immigrant Women and Shared Creativity Naureen Mumtaz


Transitions Heuristics in the Pursuit of Well-being: Situating Interactive Products and Services in Transitions Fatih Kursat Ozenc


Involvement in the Design Student Approach Heliana Soneghet Pacheco


Discovery and Creation: Explaining Collaboration Between Designers and Scientists in Scientific Research Carlos Peralta, Alex Driver, James Moultrie


Cognitive Biases and Design Research: Using Insights from Behavioral Economics and Cognitive Psychology to Re-evaluate Design Research Methods Nikki Pfarr, Judith Gregory


Designing for the Periphery of our Attention: a Study on Ambient Information Systems

Mauro Pinheiro



















Developing a Theoretical Framework for Understanding (Staged) Authentic Retail Settings in Relation to the Current Experience Economy.

Bie Plevoets. Ann Petermans. Koenraad Van Cleempoel


New Atlas for Abstract Spaces. Visual Tools for the Exploration


Complex Contexts

Marco Quaggiotto

Understanding Team Design Communication through the Designer's Eye:

a Descriptive-Analytic Approach

Chrysi Rapanta. Luca Botturi. Andreas Schmeil

Seeing what they Are Saying: Diagrams for Socio-technical Controversies

Donato Ricci

1384 The Value of Stimulated Dissatisfaction

Nicholas Spencer. Kevin Hilton

1396 Understanding the Complexity of the Multicultural Design Work Team

Irina Suteu. Margherita Pillan

1403 Implications of Spatial Abilities on Design Thinking

Ken Sutton. Anthony Williams

1413 Engaging Complexity Through Collaborative Brand Design

Manuela Taboada. Leo XC Dutra. Robert Haworth. Rebecca Spence


The Design and Development of Microcab

Michael Tovey

Empreintes lumineuses nocturnes: Codes et representations simplifiees appliquees au design de I'eclairage architectural et urbain

Victor Rodrigue. Claude M.H. Demers

Analyzing the Appearance and Wording of Assessments: Understanding their Impact on Students' Perception and Understanding, and Instructors' Processes

Stacie Rohrbach

Capturing and Retaining Knowledge to Improve Design Group Performance

Seymour Roworth-Stokes

Misfits, Balance, Requirements, and Systems: Thoughts on Alexander's Notes on the Synthesis of Form Filippo A. Salustri

Co-design in Public Spaces: an Interdisciplinary Approach to Street Furniture Development

Maria Gabriela Sanches, Lois Frankel

A Study on Design Careers and the Impact of Gender Debra Satterfield, Sunghyun R. Kang, Nora Ladjahasan, Andrea Quam, Brytton Bjorngaard

A Matter of Negotiation: Managing Uncertainties in an Open Design Process

Sven Schneider, Nancy Richter, Frank Petzold

A Case Study of an Andragogical Model in Design Education: Experiments

in InteractiveTeaching and Learning in Graphic Design Pedagogy

Sang-Duck Seo

Contradictions, Complexity and the 'Conversational Self' Design Research Methodology: "Australian Citizens' Parliament" Documentary

Kaye Shu mack

Interpretation as a Design Method

Liliana Soares, Fatima Pombo

Retail Design and Sensory Experience: Design Inquiry of Complex Reality

Jihyun Song

On the Impact of Systemic Thinking in Sustainable Design Stefan Wiltschnig, Balder Onarheim Ricardo Sosa, Alberto Dorantes, Cesar Cardenas, Victor Martinez

1452 Craft as a Form of Mindful Inquiry

1441 Developing a Pedagogic Framework for Product and Automotive Design

Michael Tovey, Karen Bull, Jane Osmond

Louise Valentine, Georgina Follett

1470 A Didactical Framework to Experiment the Potential of Visual Languages in Engaging Social Complexity

Francesca Valsecchi. Paolo Ciuccarelli, Donato Ricci, Giorgio Caviglia


Is Systemic Design the Next Big Thing for the Design Profession?

Anna Valtonen

1494 Explaining and Relating Different Engineering Models of Functional

Decomposition Dingmar van Eck

1505 Approach for Designing Elderly Care Homes

Susann Vihma

1512 I.!utilisation du geste dans des reunions de conception architecturale

Willemien Visser

1523 Designing a Design Competition: The Client Perspective

Leentje Volker

1534 Findability of Commodities by Consumers: Distinguishing Different Packaging Designs

Regina W.Y. Wang, Mu-Chien Chou

1546 Interdisciplinary Design: The Need for Collaboration to Foster Technological Innovation to Create Competitive and Sustainable Products

Peter Wehrspann, Lois Frankel

1558 Thinking About Design Experience: A Semantic Network Approach

Donna Wheatley

1574 Assessing Creativity in the Context of Architectural Design Education

Anthony Williams, Michael Ostwald, Hedda Haugen Askland

1583 Insights Into Insight - How do In-vitro Studies of Creative Insight Match the Real-world Complexity of In-vivo Design Processes?

1594 Designing Contemporary China: National Design Identity at the Crossroads

Wendy Siuyi Wong


Creating an Electronic Patient Held Health Information Card

Andree Woodcock, Jackie Binnersley, Panos Kyriacou, Viktor Rybynok


Pupil Participation in School Design

AndrEe Woodcock, Michelle Newman


Cultural Appropriation in Design and 'The Cipher'

Burcu Yancatarol Yagiz


Yo Soy Yo Y Mi Circunstancia: My Life as a Cleaner

Alaster Yoxall. Rahayu Kamal. Jennifer Rowson


Retail Design and the Visually Impaired: A Needs Assessment

Hong Yu, Sandra Tullio-Pow


Approaching Product Subjective Sustainability: Comparative Study on Evolution of Users' Kansei during Lifetime of their Mobile Phones between Iran and Japan

Seyed Javad Zafarmand, Takatoshi Tauchi. Fumio Terauchi. Mitsunori Kubo, Hiroyuki Aoki


Dealing with the Human-centered Approach within HCI Projects

Mithra Zahedi. Manon Guite, Giovanni de Paoli


Inspiring from the Works of Other Architects in Reinforcing Students' Creativity

Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Zakeri


Integral Design Method in the Context of Conceptual Sustainable Building Design

Wim Zeiler, Perica Savanovic, Duncan Harkness


Welcome to the proceedings of the 2010 conference of the Design Research Society hosted by

Welcome to the proceedings of the 2010 conference of the Design Research Society hosted by Université de Montréal, Canada.

The international biennial conference of the DRS is held during even numbered years in various countries around the world. The most recent conferences have been held in London, Melbourne, Lisbon, Sheffield, and now Montréal. We are most grateful to the hosts of this year’s conference for the hard work they have put in since the early discussions some two years ago.

By close agreement, DRS biennial conferences alternate with the biennial conferences of the International Association of Societies of Design Research which are held in odd numbered years, thus consistently ensuring that a world class general design research conference is held somewhere in the world each year as a service to the international design research community.

Organisation of the DRS biennial conferences is taken very seriously. Host institutions and their organising teams are often new to the special demands of DRS conferences, though the collective experience of the Society is provided to organisers as published guidelines, and members of the Society assist organisers as advisors, reviewers and sometimes convenors of focused strands of presentations.

One firm principle of these DRS conferences which has been honed over several events, is to ensure the highest standards of selection of papers that will be presented at the event and subsequently published in the proceedings. This principle is important for two reasons. Firstly, delegates tell us that they prefer to attend conferences where only the strongest research is presented that is appropriate to the audience, is communicated clearly, and demonstrates research that has reached a stage where there are findings worthy of transmission. Secondly, as the oldest learned society of its kind, the DRS believes that the interests of the community of scholars - including early career researchers and doctoral research students - are best served by adequate screening of submissions to include only work that is demonstrably robust research worthy of publication.

Review of proposals is overseen by a small internationally based Review Committee comprising several skilled reviewers, which is appointed by the DRS. This committee is chaired by a member of the DRS Council and operates independently of the host organisers. In this way, the focus is rightly on academic judgement of the research.

All reviews are double blind - that is where the reviewer and the author are unknown to each other. We rely heavily upon independent reviewers who have either been invited due to their previous good record of conducting reviews, or who have volunteered and been vetted for the purpose. Reviews were conducted by 209 reviewers plus the committees. Each full paper was read by at least two independent reviewers as well as at least one member of the Review Committee.

The quality of peer review is of course only as good as the judgements that reviewers make. Reviewers may have varying levels of expertise. Some are expert in certain closely focused topics, others may have a more encompassing view of research beyond their deeper expertise. We are fortunate to count among our reviewers for this conference some of the most prominent scholars globally. Where possible, we have matched reviewers’ expertise closely to the topic of the paper. Reviewers are also expected to provide feedback to authors for improvement of their paper, or to justify their decisions.

DRS considers that maintaining a high standard of acceptance to its conferences both sets a benchmark for peer review of research papers, and attempts to provide a solid body of work to which future scholars, including research students, may refer.

DRS conferences attract many more proposals than organisers can

accommodate. In our experience about one third of initial proposals make

it through to the final publication. In other words, about two thirds of

applications are rejected either at the proposal stage or after submitting

a full paper. In rounded figures, the

conference numbered 600, from which 380 authors were asked to submit full papers for a second round of reviews. 250 full papers were received. Following final judgements, 150 papers were selected for presentation at the conference and for subsequent publication in the proceedings, thus giving an exceptional ratio from initial submission to presented paper of about 4:1. In this sense, DRS conferences are nearer to a good journal review process than many other conferences in our field.

total of initial proposals for this

The programme of presentations is rich and extensive, with discussions ranging across various practices which cover the recurring topics of our field of design research. Parallel sessions provide strands that run throughout the conference programme. Here we nd many strands that seem common to these kinds of events such as: methods for design and research; reflective practice; interaction; user centred and participatory designing; and many others. Also, newer strands are appearing representing perhaps current or emerging concerns such as:

designandsociety;creativity;sustainabledesign;andgrowingworkacross or between disciplines. In addition there are specially convened strands that address issues arising from DRS special interest groups, for example well-being, pedagogy, and experiential knowledge.

example well-being, pedagogy, and experiential knowledge. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our host organisers, the large body of reviewers based around the world, my colleagues on the Review Committee, and advisors who have been instrumental in bringing together a collection of papers clearly demonstrating the health of research in our community at this time.

We hope that you enjoy the conference, and that these proceedings provide valuable reading for you, your colleagues, and your students.

David Durling (Chair, Review Committee)

The working language of DRS conferences is English. On this occasion, being located in a French speaking country, we optionally invited papers in French. These were reviewed by a Francophone team, and the results calibrated with the main review. The papers are published in the proceedings in their original language, though French presentations at the conference have the benefit of simultaneous translation into English.

language, though French presentations at the conference have the benefit of simultaneous translation into English.
DRS COUNCIL PRESIDENT Prof Nigel Cross, Open University, UK CHAIRPERSON Dr Seymour Roworth-Stokes, University for


PRESIDENT Prof Nigel Cross, Open University, UK

CHAIRPERSON Dr Seymour Roworth-Stokes, University for the Creative Arts, UK

VICE-CHAIR Prof Linda Drew, University of the Arts London, UK


HON. SECRETARY Dr Rebecca Cain, Warwick University, UK

HON. TREASURER Prof John Langrish, Salford University, UK


EVENTS SECRETARY Dr Erik Bohemia, Northumbria University, UK


MEMBERS Prof Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough University, UK Prof Ken Friedman, Swinburne University, Australia Prof Kun-Pyo Lee, KAIST, Korea Dr John Knight, Vodafone, UK Prof Rivka Oxman, Technion, Haifa, Israel Dr Stephen Little, Open University Business School, UK Dr Tiiu Poldma, Université de Montréal, Canada Dr Peter Lloyd, Open University, UK Prof Michael Siu, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HK Dr Kristina Niedderer, University of Wolverhampton, UK Prof Wendy Siuyu Wong, York University, Canada

CO-OPTED MEMBERS Prof Michael Tovey, Coventry University, UK - Prof Tom Fisher, Nottingham Trent University, UK -

PedSIG Design/Emotion SIG


Prof David Durling (Chair), BIAD, UK Prof Lin-Lin Chen, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taiwan Dr Tiiu Poldma, Université de Montréal, Canada Dr Seymour Roworth-Stokes, University for the Creative Arts, UK Prof Erik Stolterman, Indiana University Bloomington, USA

(for French papers) Dr Rabah Bousbaci, Université de Montréal, Canada Dr Philippe Gauthier, Université de Montréal, Canada


CONFERENCE CHAIR Prof Philippe Lalande

CONFERENCE CO-CHAIRS Dr Anne Marchand Dr Rabah Bousbaci Dr Philippe Gauthier Dr Tomás Dorta


EXTERNAL COMMITTEE Prof Alain Findeli, Université de Nîmes, France Prof Wolfgang Jonas, University of Kassel, Germany


Camille Moussette

Ignacia Calvo


BUILDING BRIDGES AND COMMUNICATION Prof Denyse Roy, Marie Bellemare, Alexandre Joyce Francine Armand, Pascal Gravel , Djemel Manel , Arturo Segrera, MauriceTemfack


Myriam Akad

EXHIBITION Prof Denyse Roy Ignacio Alvarez, Ginette Clément, Yva Jean-Simon, Carol-Ann Lemaire, Amélie Lépine, Lucia Michalkova, Erwan Zdravka

GALA Isabelle Kaliaguine Caterine Léon,Élizabeth Nadeau, Ligia Beatriz Ramirez Letona

GRAPHIC DESIGN AND SIGNAGE Anne–Marie Lessage, Mathieu Cournoyer Christina Fayad, Martine Goyette, Juan Roncancio


Maïa Cinq-Mars

PUBLICATIONS Sébastien Proulx, Éric Perreault Christina Fayad, Anabelle Martin, Cynthia Savard


TECHNICAL SUPPORT Ignacio Calvo Edgar Perez, Louis-Thomas Plamondon, Alberto Restropo

OTHER VOLUNTEERS Émilie Beauchamp, Abdelkarim Charef, Anne-Marie Gregory, Roha Khalaf


DRS2010 PROCEEDINGS 1 The Role of Interaction Design in Information and Communication Technologies Embedded Product


The Role of Interaction Design in Information and Communication Technologies Embedded Product Development Activity

Canan Akoglu, Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey,

Alpay Er, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey,


This paper describes the role of interaction design in information and communication technologies (ICT) embedded product design and development activity. Besides presenting the relationship between industrial design and interaction design in the same activity, it also re-defines this relationship in terms of roles in ICT embedded product development activity.

This research has been accomplished by having an extensive interdisciplinary literature review, a series of interviews and also a case study based on a specific product’s development process. The series of interviews have been conducted face to face in USA with professionals from 5 different industrial design and interaction design based consulting firms such as IDEO, Cooper Interaction, Smart Design, Swim Interaction Design Studio and LUNAR Design. The next step of the field research has been a case study based on gathering information of a spesific product through secondary sources and then conducting in-depth interviews with designers, who have worked in that product’s development process, from different professions.

Major conclusions of the research include as follows: Being a younger discipline relative to industrial design, the role of interaction design in ICT embedded product development activity has the similarities to that of industrial design in the same activity. The most extensive collaboration between industrial design and interaction design is seen at Planning and Concept Design phases in ICT embedded product development activity. As the products become more complex in terms of interactions, interaction designers will gradually need to manage the design teams. There will be a need for a new sub-field of interaction design which is supposed to emerge as interaction design management. Comparing with industrial design, interaction design is foreseen to have a wider activity area in Planning, Concept Development and System Level Design phases of ICT embedded product development activity. As interactions with products become more and more immaterial, be a new actor from service design is supposed to have a role in ICT embedded product development activity.

Keywords interaction design; industrial design; information and communication technologies; role of the designer; product development activity.

Penetration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in daily life has been causing changes in products. When the intensive use of ICT in different sectors is taken into consideration, it becomes inevitable to say that this subject is even transforming design processes.

Industrial design, as a professional practice, has been influenced by different dynamics such as the development of information and communication technologies, changes in products, changes in the way users interact with products, emergence of different disciplines in product design and development activity, changes in the focus points of product design and development activity throughout its short history.



In a context where products become more complex and where the competition in ICT embedded product development activity increases day by day, interaction design discipline comes into question. Alike Industrial Revolution has led up to the emergence of industrial design, the development of digital technology, especially of ICT and its use has caused the emergence of interaction design.

Throughout 20 th century, while the interaction between users and products has been material, along with beginning of the design of ICT embedded products, materiality has been giving its place to immateriality in terms of interaction. This change has led to the emergence of new roles and professions in product development activities (Margolin, 1998; Buchanan, 2001; Forlizzi and Batterbee, 2004; Zimmerman, et al., 2004). One of these roles, accepted to design of the dialogue between users and products by a general definition, is interaction design (Smith, 2004; Moggridge 2006; Cooper, et al., 2007; Kolko, 2007). The profession which provides users interact with a product or system in a short span of time, continuity of interaction, decrease the period of first experience and provide less complexity but more satisfaction is considered to be interaction design (Smith, 2004; Zanini, 2004; Moggridge,


The Role of the Designer in Product Development Activity

Even though there are not specific periodical distinctions, it has been determined that there have been changes ranging from the definition of design to its role in product development activities. Especially in terms of industrial design, it is determined products and product development processes have concentrated on different focuses (Sparke et al, 1997; Vertelney and Booker, 1990; Cagan and Vogel, 2002; Heskett, 1980; 2002; Er, 2007).

Both designing and production activities have been under the responsibility of craftsmen who had the roles of designers before the Industrial Revolution (Heskett, 1980; Vertelney and Booker, 1990; Rothstein, 1999; Dreyfuss, 2003; Cagan and Vogel, 2002).

With Industrial Revolution taking out design and production from one person’s responsibility, products have no more been designed and mass produced for only one but wide range of users (Heskett, 1980; 2002; Buchanan, 2001; Cagan and Vogel, 2002). In this period, the role industrial designer had been limited to design of the skin, or in other terms form (Loewy, 1979; Heskett, 1980; Dreyfuss, 2003).

Beginning to take place in early phases of product development processes caused designers participate also in user research studies (Kelly and Peters, 2001; Press and Cooper, 2003; Brown, 2005). Previously working with user and market data which marketing professionals put forward, designers have begun to collaborate with social science professionals such as human factors specialists and with people from other professions; then they needed to have information on cognitive and psychological factors in order to understand user needs and preferences. It is possible to assume that this situation accords with the factors such as understanding users, designing products or services for as many as users that underlie interaction design. Looking from the perspective of different dynamics, it is possible to say that not only ICT, but also the changes in social and economical structures will contribute to the critical roles of both industrial design and interaction design in product development activities.

Interaction Design

Interaction, which naturally exists from the presence of human beings, is taken into consideration as a profession in product development activities in this study. As Cooper et al (2007) and Smith (2004) states, interaction design is a new discipline that utilizes methods and techniques from existing disciplines.

It is determined that the development of ICT, especially the Internet, decrease in hardware dimensions, changes in products, user numbers and profiles, user-product interactions,



changes in software and service development activities and the graphic user interfaces have appeared in the emergence of interaction design.

It is possible to assume that interaction design attempts to makes the interaction that is becoming more complex and more immaterial be understandable, useful, usable and desirable for users. While industrial design concentrates on the form and function of a product traditionally, interaction design concentrates both on how users interact with ICT embedded products, softwares and services and on how information can be exchanged.

Alike industrial designers design products for different uses with the contribution of mechanical technology, interaction designers define and design the dialogue between users and products, services and systems (Smith, 2004; Kolko, 2007). This similarity between industrial design and interaction design indicates that both of these professions interwine each other in terms of role sharing in product development activities. On the other hand, this similarity can be seen as an indication for potential changes in role sharing in product development activities.


In this study an extensive literature review, including various disciplines, a series of interviews and a case study has been held.

“The role of interaction design in ICT embedded product development activity” being as the basic research interest of this study is a very new and limited field in terms of product development activity in Turkey. Therefore interviews have been conducted face to face in USA with key professionals from leading industrial design and interaction design based consultancies, that have pioneer work in the mentioned area internationally, such as IDEO, Cooper Interaction, Smart Design, Swim Interaction Design Studio and LUNAR Design. The interviewers were Bill Moggridge (IDEO), David Cronin (Cooper Interaction), Gitta Salomon (SWIM Interaction Design Studio), John Edson (LUNAR Design), Sheila Foley (Smart Design, SF Office). In this phase of field research, the definitions and design and development processes of those mentioned consultancies were examined.

The second phase of the field research has been planned as a case study based on a representative product’s literature review and interviews with professionals from different disciplines on its design and development process. After product selection criterion was prepared, it has been corresponded with firms such as Apple, Nokia and LUNAR Design. At the end of this correspondence, the case study was held on a product called Pasco Spark which has been recently designed by LUNAR Design and planned to be shipped in August 2008. Interviews of this case study were held with specialists from different professions who have worked in Pasco Spark’s design and development process through the Internet.

Findings of Interviews

Interaction designers of interviewers accept industrial designers as professionals who design product’s form and its mechanical interaction with users and who has knowledge on production and materials. On the other hand, industrial designers see interaction designers as professionals who design product’s digital interaction with users. Behavior has been stated to be the common point in both of these definitions.

Although interaction design has been considered to take part from the first step of product development activity as a common aspect of interviewers, it has been determined that there are different approaches in the related sector.

During the interviews except from IDEO, it is determined that there are significant phases in which interaction design and industrial design collaborate in the rest of the interviewer firms design and development process. When the design and development processes of the firms have been examined, interaction design based consultancies stated that some of industrial design based consultancies contacted with them to work together after having fundamental



design decisions, even after defining the product’s form. Interviewers emphasized that this situation has negative effects on final product’s success and innovation (Cronin, 2005; Moggridge, 2005; Salomon, 2005).

When industrial design and interaction design processes in ICT embedded product development activities are considered, it is possible to assume that the fuzzy front end of product development is the process where the most collaboration and corporation between interaction designers and industrial designers takes place. It is examined that when design concept has been being generated, roles of industrial designers and interaction designers on creating the form of the product and the location, form, color and material of physical controls which users interact with, has been indefinite.

Although there has been a common viewpoint that traditional product design and development process has been supposed to continue, it has been stated that there would be changes in ICT embedded product development activities. On the other hand, it is determined as a common approach that there would be changes in terms of new material uses and production technologies.

Case Study Findings

Pasco Spark which was designed by LUNAR Design has been the product of the case study. It is a product used for education that enables students aged between 12-16 years old explore the world and make discoveries in basic sciences both inside and outside the classroom. The interviews of the case study were held with project manager, interaction designers, industrial design lead and user researchers who worked throughout Pasco Spark’s design and development process in LUNAR Design.

As well as having a role as interaction designers, the interaction designers also had roles as project manager and user researchers in Pasco Spark’s development process (Author, 2009). It is determined that the reason one of the interaction designers took part as the project manager besides being an interaction designer has been because of the complexity in Pasco Spark’s functionality and content. LUNAR’s design and development process consists of 3 main phases including sub-phases: vision, magic (the design phase) and reality (Anderson, 2008; Lebas, 2008). Although the sub-phases seem to be similar, it is determined that there are differences in terms of the content proposed and the techniques used by industrial design and interaction design (Author, 2009). During the vision phase while the design and development team concentrate on user research studies, it is observed that interaction designers focus on researching user mental models and processes. On the contrary, it is determined that industrial designers research ergonomic considerations of users and competing products in the market. When the time spent on user research is considered, it is examined that industrial designers pass over to other phases in a shorter time than interaction designers. Thus it is determined that industrial designers have already created general qualities and form alternatives about product when interaction designers just begin creating concepts.

In Pasco Spark’s development activity, the phase during which collaboration and corporation between industrial design and interaction design take place is determined to be concept generation. During this phase there is information needed to be exchanged between industrial designers and interaction designers; that is to say, there are sub-phases in which both designers are dependant to each other (Author, 2009): interaction designers need to get information about the screen dimensions in which the content and interaction is supposed to be embedded from industrial designers. Thus the dimensions of the product affect the dimension and resolution of the screen and those are the factors which affect the quality and quantity of information and the interface that are supposed be embedded in the product. But at this point, it is foreseen that not only industrial designers but also interaction designers might propose the mentioned dimension information. Although this information is directly dealed with the product’s form and is supposed to be within the role of industrial



designers, it can be accepted as type of information in terms of product’s content and its dialogue with users at the same time. On the other hand, the prototypes concerning the use of both the digital content and physical content are supposed to be compatible with each other and constitute an entirety. Because of these reasons industrial designers and interaction designers are needed to work dependant to each other.


This study attempts to define the role of interaction design in ICT embedded product development activity, to re-define its relationship with industrial design within the same process. According to these mentioned aims, the results of this research are explained below.

Development of Interaction Design

Being a younger discipline relevant to industrial design, the role of interaction design in ICT embedded product development activity has similarities with the changes industrial design’s role in product development process (Author, 2009). Alike industrial designers being included into the development team after basic design decisions have been determined, interaction designers have had the similar experience. Also, alike industrial designers have been accepted to be who only design the form, interaction designers have been seen professionals who only design the graphical user interfaces. This belief and approach is still been observed in the sector. Although there are exceptional approaches are determined in literature review and interviews which constitutes the first phase of field research, it appears that interaction design has been involved in the development process after Planning and Concept Generation phases. On the other hand, it is determined that interaction designers both work as user researchers and project managers in the case study. Although the second phase of the field research has been conducted as a single case study, the above mentioned development shows that interaction design will gradually continue to have a wider role in ICT embedded product development activities.

Additionally, ICT embedded products are becoming more and more multifunctional and the behavior of such products are provided by dynamic interfaces instead of static ones. In this situation, it can be accepted that the products are becoming “boxes” that shelter the hardware and functions in terms of physical considerations. This determination also shows that interaction design has begun to have a wider role than industrial design has in ICT embedded product development activities.

The contents and functions of products becoming more and more dynamic causes the interaction shift from material qualities towards immaterial qualities. The said interaction moving toward immateriality is supposed to cause the emergence of another new actor on service design in ICT embedded product development activities.

The Relationship Between Industrial Design and Interaction Design in ICT Embedded Product Development Activity

It is essential for interaction design and industrial design to be in corporation and collaboration in ICT embedded product development activities. Although this situation has come forward in the literature review, it is determined that the said necessity is taken into consideration in the sector except for the leading design consultancies. The findings of interviews which consist the first phase of field research, support the literature review. As a matter of fact, design consultancies in which there are no in-house interaction designers, outsource interaction design at the end of Concept Generation and System Level Design phases. This situation which is supported by both literature review and interview findings is in contradiction with case study findings.



Design Approach







Table 1 The relationship between industrial design and interaction design in ICT embedded product development activity



Mental models


Ergonomic factors Anthropometrics

Need and preference


Software structure Interaction generation environments Facilities of generation environments Hardware and software relation

Production techniques Production feasibility Material qualities Form

Dimensions of the product Dimensions of the screen Affordances

Persona creation

Synthetic thinking Text Language Visual Language

Paper prototypes

Drawing and Synthetic thinking Visual Language


Virtual prototypes

Scenario based approach Complex interaction Graphical user interface Typography, Color factors, Pattern

Form based approach Mechanical interaction Material Color and pattern

It is considered that industrial designers and interaction designers collaborate and cooperate starting from first step of the development process which is the Planning phase. The reason of this contradiction might be the 3 years time period between interviews and the case study and also the rapid developments in this field. Another finding that supports the mentioned development is that in-house interaction designers began to work in LUNAR Design, one of the product design consultancies which interviews were conducted within this period of time.

Table 1 shows that there are common factors that both industrial designers and interaction designers focus in terms of design processes. Thus these common factors, which did not come out in literature review but in interviews, constitute the steps that interaction design and industrial design are dependant to each other in ICT embedded product development activities. Although both industrial designers and interaction designers have been considered to propose alternatives about the mentioned common factors in the case study, it is seen that industrial designers’ information is still needed (Author, 2009). Yet determination of ergonomic factors and form creation are still in the profession of industrial designers. In the case study although two design professions seem to propose alternatives about the screen dimension of the product, it is believed that interaction designers should be responsible



because of designing the information and the functions embedded in that screen. Although both of the design professions seem to propose alternatives for affordances, it should be accepted as a problem to collaborate and cooperate. As a matter of fact, these relationships are being solved by using users’ hands instead of other physical controls such as a mouse, handle etc. This situation is gradually shifting interaction design into its individual area from being dependant to industrial design profession. Affordance which is located under the user title also is moving into the profession of industrial design.

Redefining the Roles in ICT Embedded Product Development Activity

The subjects which were supposed to be solved collaboratively and cooperatively by industrial design and interaction design in ICT embedded product development activities have begun to move towards to the responsibility of interaction design profession (Author, 2009). Because the physical controls that take place in user product interaction have been gradually disappearing,

Disappearance of physical controls that take place in user product interactions shows that the activity area of interaction design will be wider and wider in ICT embedded product development activity. This extension points out that interaction design profession will have a leading role on the process and design management comparing with industrial design.

In Table 2 the roles of industrial design and interaction design are redefined in ICT embedded product development activity: in Planning phase, both industrial designers and interaction designers have active roles in identifying user needs and preferences, company and market needs. But at this point, as interaction designers focus on especially user mental models and processes, their role in user research studies have dominancy than that of industrial designers. At the end of Planning phase, both industrial designers and interaction designers have roles in creating concept, use and context scenarios. These steps in Concept Development phase are the ones which collaboration and cooperation are seen the most between industrial designers and interaction designers. Thus in Concept Development phase, the basic design decisions are taken. Due to the basic design decisions, both design professions create alternatives for the project. These alternatives are tested by gathering the mockups generated by industrial designers and paper prototypes generated by interaction designers. Both design professions generally work in their teams in System Level Design phase. At this point, although neither of teams are totally independent to each other, it is foreseen that they frequently cooperate in order to discuss and exchange ideas. In System Level Design phase both industrial designers and interaction designers continue creating design alternatives. Ulrich and Eppinger (2004) shows interface issues within the scope of industrial design. But creating an interface depends on creating physical controls which are not only in responsibility of industrial designers but should be also of interaction designers.



Table 2 Redefining the roles in ICT embedded product development activities (adapted from Ulrich and Eppinger, 2004)











Phase 0:


Hypothesis generation Research Stakeholder research User research Field research Modeling Persona creation Workflow generation Use scenarios generation Requirements Definition Use and context scenarios Other requirements Design Framework Elements Framework Key path& validation scenarios






Demonstration of available technologies Finance:





Supply chain



strategy setting


Market needs

Providing planning goals Management:


Product platform

and architecture


Allocation of project resources




Persona creation



Use and context scenarios Industrial design concepts Form Feasibility of product concepts Building and testing experimental prototypes



Phase 1:


costs estimation



Lead users









Investigation of

patent issues

Phase 2:




Finance: Make-




identification for

buy analysis


for product


key components



options and


Final assembly

Identification of




service issues

product family



Target sales

Defining major

Target costs

price points







industrial design



Detailed design


Defining part


Phase 3:











Tooling design








industrial design

Procurement of


long-lead tooling

documentation Furthermore, physical controls which provide user product interaction are gradually



disappearing as might be observed in ICT embedded products in the market. Consequently, industrial designers will gradually leave their roles in this subject to interaction designers. In this case, it is possible to foresee that interaction design profession will play role more and more in this mentioned step.

Starting from the above evaluations, it is possible to say that interaction design will have a wider activity area in Planning, Concept Development and System Level Design phases comparing with that of industrial design.

According to the results of this study, there are differences in terms of methods, techniques and design language in approaching the design problem and understanding users between industrial designers and interaction designers. Conducting more case studies regarding this result might contribute to affect and develop thriving techniques, design and representation languages.

The results of this study foresee that interaction design will gradually play a wider role in design and process management in ICT embedded product development activity. Hence a conducting a research in the near future on interaction design management might contribute to both interaction design profession and ICT embedded product development activity.

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He is an International





A Survey of Definition and its Role in Strengthening Design Theory

Robert Andruchow, University of Alberta, Canada


This paper argues that an essential task for managing complexity in design is clarification of key terms within the field, and most importantly the term that defines the field itself: Design. This position rests on the argument that theory—a key tool for managing complexity in design—is weakened by ambiguous terminology, and crucially, ambiguity of the word design. Although it has been well documented that design is a highly ambiguous term and that this is problematic for the field as a whole, many designers are resigned to this fact since it is unclear how one can resolve differences of opinion about what such a central and sensitive term means. This paper argues, though, that once designers have a better understanding of the process of definition—a process that has its own complexities—they might see the benefit of trying to define design and other key terms. To this end, this paper provides an overview of definition, borrowing largely from philosophy, which includes a survey of the types and methods of definition and issues related to each. It will also explore methods and criteria by which one can evaluate various competing definitions. From this survey, I propose that designers use a stipulative and pragmatic approach to definition outlined by Edward Schiappa (2003). Schiappa's approach is useful because of these two key underlying assumptions: first, defining design (and related terms) is not a search for the record of past usage but an act to persuade others of how to use the word in the future, therefore the person defining must provide a compelling argument for why others' usage should be modified; second, defining design is not a search for the 'true' or 'real' meaning of a word but instead a goal-oriented process and, therefore, dependent on the context and purpose of those defining the word.


design; complexity; definition; terminology; concept analysis; philosophy; language; ambiguity

Design research, education and practice have all faced greater complexity as the field has grown and matured over the past several decades (Buchanan, 1992; Meurer, 1999). This added complexity comes from several sources, including:

A growing emphasis on research and methods in design, borrowing largely from more established disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, marketing and engineering (Meurer, 1999; Frascara, Meurer, Toorn, Winkler, 1997).

A greater awareness in the business community (and to some extent the general public) that design plays a central role in product and service development. Thus, designers have seen their roles expand from stylist to “strategic consultant” (J. O'Grady, K. O'Grady, 2006, p. 10-11).

A recent expansion of new media and technology, such as the Internet, social



networking and mobile computers/phones in which a designer can deliver a message or product through.

A greater emphasis on social responsibility, ethics and environmental stewardship, requiring the designer to have a more informed view of the socio-political context in which their design will exist (Frascara et al, 1997; Papanek, 1975).

With each of these sources, theory is a critical tool for the designer. Theory helps designers understand this complexity and more importantly explain how it will impact their design problems and solutions. Epistemological theories are required so a designer can explain when to use qualitative or quantitative research methods. Helping a client determine long- term communication and marketing strategies requires theories about how they will impact product sales. Choosing a medium or technology in which to deliver a message requires theories of communications and semiotics to understand how it may be affected and interpreted. Lastly, all design solutions affect the socio-political and environmental contexts they are placed within, requiring the designer to have a world-view or ethos based on theories about politics and the environment. In each of these examples, the designer's understanding of the theories being applied have a direct impact on the design solution. For simple design projects, one does not have to be explicit about how their theories impact their design solution and can rely on intuition; but for more complex projects, a designer will be expected (most likely by their client) to explain why a certain world-view or method is used.

Building design theory

This brief examination brings us to two crucial points: first, theory is becoming more vital for design practitioners as their practice becomes more complex; second, as the examples provided above show, many of the required theories originate in other disciplines: sociology, psychology, political science, marketing, communication studies, etc. This second point leads us to a new source of complexity in design: the state of design research and how it informs design practice.

For this, I turn to two papers: “Language definition and its role in developing a design discourse” by Sharon Poggenpohl, Praima Chayutsahakij and Chujit Jeamsinkul (2004); and, “Constructing a coherent body of theory about designing and designs” by Terence Love (2002). These papers are relevant to the discussion about complexity in design because they both present a summary of the state of design research and they both argue that design must develop its own research discourse rather than rely on other disciplines to strengthen its theoretical development. According to Love (2002), there is growing interest “in the development of a unified body of knowledge and theory about designing and designs” (p. 345). This interest is shared by Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul (2004), who argue that design research and practice would be well served to have its own “core knowledge” which would lead to the development of “an intelligent discourse” (p. 588).

While Love (2001) believes creating a more unified body of theory is gaining interest among design researchers, it has “not yet emerged in spite of extensive research undertaken over several decades, across several hundred domains of practice, and from a wide variety of perspectives” (p. 345). Both list several key reasons for this lack of emergence. According to Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul (2004) there is a range of “stronger, weaker, or virtually nonexistent discourse traditions” in different sub-disciplines in design (p. 588). Overall, “[d]esign does not have a strong tradition of reflective or critical writing, perhaps because much design knowledge is tacit and formalizing this knowledge through language



is difficult” (Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij, Jeamsinkul, 2004, p. 588). This is because

discourse is “dominated by trade magazines that follow trend and fashion in practice” (Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij, Jeamsinkul, 2004, p. 588). While Love (2002) does not evaluate the quality of research in design, he does emphasize that it is often “tied” to the subdomain it was created within (p. 346). So, even if we found strong research within a subdomain, according to Love, it is not or cannot be shared with the other subdomains in design. For Love (2002), this inability to share research between subdomains feeds into what he sees as a fundamental reason design has not seen a unified body of theory emerge: “a lack of philosophical foundations” (p. 346). These foundations include:

agreement upon “core concepts and terminology” in design to clarify “the scope, bounds and foci of fields of research and theory-making about designing and designs”; greater investigation into epistemological, ontological issues in design; and lastly, better “integration” of design theory and “other bodies of knowledge” (Love, 2002, p. 346).

Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul acknowledge there are critics of the creation of

a unified body of theory. They argue these critics disagree because “design is necessarily a

synthetic discipline” and, therefore, can rely upon research from research-based disciplines such as “human-computer interaction or social science” (Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij, Jeamsinkul, 2004, 589). While they agree that design is a synthetic discipline, they disagree that this means it cannot have its own internal discourse. More importantly, they argue “a lack of a specific design discourse with ongoing development, argument, criticism, research findings, etc. hampers development of design as a discipline and prevents design from contributing its knowledge more broadly” (p. 589).

Strengthening design theory through definition

Clearly, the task of unifying design theory has its own complexities—both in defending the endeavor and in the foundational goals necessary to complete it—but as argued above, if design practice seeks to manage complexity, it must do so with a body of theory and knowledge of its own. To minimize the complexity in this task, the remainder of this paper will investigate the first philosophic goal that both papers argue for: “clarifying definitions of core concepts” (Love, 2002, p. 346).

One could argue that this is a primary philosophic goal since one's definition of design will inform the next two goals: epistemology and integration with other disciplines. This is a point not lost on Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul (2004), who see the task of definition as central, impacting design in mundane yet highly practical ways, from effective “tagging” of research (p. 579), to wider foundational implications such as: “how the design profession envisions itself—as a craft or a discipline; how curricular programs in design need to change or not based on its accepted definition; what other disciplines can hope to learn from design and its research; how design research can improve knowledge and performance in design practice” (p. 590).

While the following exploration of definition will be relevant to all core concepts in design, this paper will focus on the term that defines the field itself: design. Focusing on the definition of design is valuable not just because of the reasons listed above and the obvious fact that it names the field as a whole, but because it is also a highly ambiguous term. According to Love (2002), design has “different meanings in different domains, [is] used in different ways by researchers in the same domain, and [is] found in the literature referring to concepts at different levels of abstraction” (p. 347). This ambiguity results in theories and research where accounts of design are “contradictory,” causing confusion about which findings are actually applicable from one domain to another (Love, 2002, p. 347).



While there are a myriad of reasons for this range of opinion, two are particularly significant:

the dramatic change in the field of design in the last one-hundred years; and, the ambiguity of the word itself. First, the practice of design has seen dramatic change in the last one- hundred (or more) years—from an applied art at Bauhaus in the 1920s, to an attempt at an applied science at Ulm in the 1960s. Even the last thirty years has seen a shift from a more scientific approach to design to a more generalized notion of design that is not necessarily scientific, but understood as a type of planning (Buchanan, 2001). The second significant reason for this ambiguity is the many overlapping meanings of the word design itself. Design has a range of meanings from the abstract to the specific. To demonstrate how confusing using the word design can get, John Heskett (2001) provides the following sentence:

Design is when designers design a design to produce a design (p. 18).

He then explains how all four uses of design are each a different sense of the word:

The first usage is as a noun, connoting the field of design as a whole in a very general manner, as in the phrase: “Design is important to national economic competitiveness.” The second usage is as a verb, meaning the action or thought involved in the act of designing. The third also is a noun; this time connoting a plan or intention. Finally, the fourth usage again is a noun, this time meaning the finished product. All the usages have very different meanings, yet even people professionally involved in design continually slip between them, seamlessly moving from one meaning to another without distinction (Heskett, 2001, p. 18).

Few other disciplines are the victim of such a high number of multiple meanings or polysemy. While almost all words in our language are polysemic, design is particularly polysemous, and to make matters worse, the many meanings are very closely related. A very common error is to equate the noun design, used to describe the discipline or field of practice (ie. “architecture is a subdomain of design”), with the more general verb design, used to describe planning or scheming (ie. “that football play was by design”) (Bamford, 1990, p. 6).

This ambiguity begs the first question when defining design: which sense of the word are we using to define the discipline? Or, is it even one of the definitions given in Heskett's quote? If it is another definition, how does one formulate a new definition? How does one develop arguments for a definition and how are these arguments evaluated? As these questions suggest, the process of defining design is complicated. The difficulty for designers is they lack the philosophical background to navigate these questions, which according to Richard Buchanan (2001), is the source of the discipline's difficulty with definition:

Efforts to establish a new field of learning require a definition of the field, and design is no exception. Unfortunately, our community has often foundered on the problem of definition. The literature is filled with contrasting and sometimes contradictory definitions of design, and efforts to define design have often led to acrimony. […] There has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and use of definitions, and this has caused our discussions to become unproductive and wasteful of time and energy (p. 8).

Some may argue that definition should be left for philosophers due to its complexity but the following quote from Schiappa (2003) reminds us of the central role designers must play in defining design: “definitions put into practice a special sort of social knowledge—a shared understanding among people about themselves, the objects of their world, and how they ought to use language” (p. 3). As designers, we maintain this shared knowledge through communities of research and practice, making us experts on how to define our world. So, if



designers must play a central role in definition, we must clarify the process itself to make it more productive for designers.

A survey of definition

Outside of philosophy and law, definitions are normally quite mundane since the majority of the time we have strong tacit agreements about the words we use in conversation. Edward Schiappa (2003)—the central author used for this summary on definition—notes that definition as a method is not even required for good communication since a shared vocabulary is learned through a variety of social contexts that are far less formal (p. 28). Definition, though, is far from mundane when the use or application of a term is disputed or has large ramifications, for example, in legal or academic communities (Schiappa, 2003, p. 33). Philosopher Trudy Govier (2005) says the following about definitions:

We look for a definition when we see a claim or argument that is unclear or hard to understand, or when a practical problem whose solution depends on our having an explicit definition. At such points, we begin to wonder what certain important words mean and it makes sense to look for definitions. (p. 95)

The tradition of definition started two thousand years ago with Socrates. As a philosopher, Socrates was interested in seeking and building knowledge, as opposed to opinion, about the natural, psychological and political world. He was interested in an important test of knowledge: the determination of the “essential” nature of concepts, such as “justice” and “courage” (Schiappa, 2003, p. 22). Aristotle continued this tradition with the development of the “standard definitional form involving genus and difference,” which bears resemblance to methods used by Socrates and Plato (Schiappa, 2003, p. 23). The genus would establish what similarities the thing being defined had to other things, and the difference would be identified through attributes which differentiated it from other things within the genus. For example: “A chair is a piece of furniture (genus) used for sitting (attribute)” (Schiappa, 2003, p. 25). This approach has proved so effective that two thousand years later, the creators of the Oxford English Dictionary used it to clarify terms:

There are rules—a word (to take a noun as an example) must first be defined according to the class of things to which it belongs (mammal, quadruped), and then differentiated from other members of that class (bovine, female). (Winchester, 1998, p. 150)

The longevity and effectiveness of Aristotle's method stems from the fact that he had gained insight into basic functioning of the brain that only recently, through psychology and biology, has been provided a scientific basis. Schiappa (2003) explains the scientific basis for the genus-species method of definition as follows: “[M]uch remains unknown about how the

human brain processes sensations

that our sensory-perceptual activity forms experiences through a process of abstraction and categorization” (p. 13) He then links this process to evolution by quoting child psychologist Bowermann: “[t]he grouping of discriminably different stimuli into categories on the basis of shared features is an adaptive way of dealing with what would otherwise be an overwhelming array of unique experiences.” (Bowerman, 1976, 105-6). In child psychology, this discrimination process is known as developing “similarity/difference relationships” or “SDRs” (p. 17-18).

For Aristotle, this method of definition was particularly important for knowledge-building because it allowed one to develop principles based on the categorization and listing of essential attributes. For example, one could start the process of defining design by first

[f]or present purposes, the most important theory is



establishing the genus which it could belong to: “discipline.” A by-product of this first step is also clarifying which sense of the word we are defining; in other words, we are trying to define “design as a discipline.” Because “discipline” is a broad genus, the next step would be to determine if a further sub-categorization might be useful. For example, we could divide the disciplines into knowledge disciplines and applied disciplines. Now we have a narrower genus for design: “applied discipline.” A final step would be to differentiate design from the many species within applied discipline, so one could say design is a combined applied art and social science. Thus, we differentiate design from engineering which is the application of the physical sciences. While the example definition we ended up with is not important to analyze, what is important is to see how this process has given us useful attributes that could form principles of design. So, if one sees design as part applied art and part applied social science, one could develop the following principles:

A design researcher could argue that the epistemological foundations of design ought to balance the subjectivity of aesthetic choices of fine arts with the objectivity of empirical science.

A design educator could argue that design education must include a foundation in the fine arts and the social sciences.

A design practitioner could argue to clients that the effectiveness of their design is based upon the satisfaction of both aesthetic and social scientific criteria.

While this example was quite brief and far from exhaustive, it demonstrates the usefulness of the genus/species (or similarity/difference) method of definition. Today, this method of definition is still important for philosophers and, as mentioned, lexicographers. But, other fields such as law and linguistics also use or study definition, which has led to the creation of various types of definition, each geared towards a particular purpose. The following is a survey of the three main types:

An “ostensive definition” is one used to describe a thing that can be pointed to, and particularly useful for things that are difficult to explain using words, such as colour but not good for explaining abstract or complex phenomena (Govier, 2005, p. 96).

A “lexical definition” tries to list and describe all common usages of a term (Govier, 2005, p. 96); These are the definitions you would find in a dictionary. This method often uses the etymology (study of the history of words and how their form and meaning have changed over time) to inform the definition of the word being defined.

A “stipulative definition” states what a term ought to mean, and may be adopted as a lexical definition if widely used (Govier, 2005, p. 99). The notion of “ought” is crucial here because it implies stipulative definition is a persuasive act. That is, one must provide reasons to its listeners as to why they should change their usage of the term.

In relation to defining design, each type of definition has varying levels of use value. Ostensive definition is the least useful type because, as discussed above, it does not explain abstract terms very well; one cannot develop a foundation for a discipline by just pointing to a set of objects. Theory requires an articulation of definition that can be scrutinized through written or spoken language. That said, through the process of articulating a definition of design, it is highly useful to point to examples that are the product of design. This is especially important for when explaining a definition to a design audience that largely learns through visualization.

Lexical definition is valuable but, again, limited. In defining the discipline of design, if one simply referred to a dictionary, which of the twelve or so definitions provided does one use to



define the discipline? Even if the dictionary provides a definition explicitly for the discipline, we then need to ask whether the definition is appropriate. For choosing one of the lexical definitions and in determining appropriateness of the definition chosen, one needs a justification or reasons. In other words, there is an element of persuasion involved through articulation, but not based on past usage of the word design, but rather on conceptual and pragmatic grounds. Arguing for a definition in this way means you are now using a stipulative definition.

In fact, this is the limitation of Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul's approach to definition in their paper. A large focus of the paper is on the organizational aspect of definition—that is, the problem of gathering thousands of word uses and definitions to be used in a design dictionary and then using this dictionary to help stabilize language used in design discourse (Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij, Jeamsinkul, 2004, p. 582). Their emphasis on the organizational aspect of creating a dictionary demonstrates a possible misunderstanding regarding the types of definition. While collecting lexical definitions and creating a dictionary can serve a purpose within a community, it will not help one through the process of selecting and evaluating one dominant definition (or set of definitions) that a whole research community ought to use. This selection and evaluation process is primary and is where difficult theoretical debates about appropriateness and efficacy take place. According to Govier, dictionary definitions do not suffice for complex or abstract concepts where “fundamental” issues of “theory and value are involved” (Govier, 2005, p. 97). Therefore, if ostensive and lexical definitions cannot resolve the definition of design, stipulative definition seems to be the most appropriate type. Before a final conclusion is drawn, a full exploration of stipulative definition is required.

Exploring stipulative definition

Within stipulative definition, there are two important epistemological debates about approach that impact the method we will use: the essentialism vs. anti-essentialism debate and the real vs. nominal definition debate. In exploring these debates I will also introduce Edward Schiappa's approach since it is particularly useful for the definition of design.

An essentialist approach assumes one can define the essential features of a thing such that these features are universally true, with no exceptions. The essential features are also known as the necessary and sufficient conditions. For example, the necessary and sufficient conditions for being a bachelor are being “male” and “unmarried.” Being male and unmarried are sufficient because we don't need additional conditions for a person to be considered a bachelor and they are necessary because every bachelor is married and male. Opposed to this essentialist view, are the anti-essentialists of which there are several flavors. The most famous is Ludwig Wittgenstein's theory of family resemblances, which assumes that words such as “game” and “art” do not have such universally true features but rather a patchwork of related resemblances that may or may not fit to each application (Weitz, 2007, p. 190). In the case of defining design, the essentialism debate is very important, since “design” falls into the same category of ambiguous terms as “game” and “art.” One could argue that the elusive nature of the term and inability of the community to come to a shared definition is proof that a finite set of necessary and sufficient conditions does not exist. On the other hand, if we take a pragmatic approach to defining design, one could argue for the essentialist approach based on its utility. That is, creating a set of conditions for what constitutes design is useful because it allows the community to develop principles for the discipline, differentiate design from other disciplines, etc. While it is outside the scope of this paper to fully explore all of the arguments within these debates, the salient point is to know they exist. For purposes of this paper, I will use the essentialist position based on the



utilitarian grounds.

The second key debate within stipulative definition is between those that consider definition to be “real” or “nominal.” For Plato, a “real” definition was a search for the Ideal Form, that is,

a definition that describes the “true” and “universal” nature of a term (Schiappa, 2003, p. 36). This view depends on “metaphysical absolutism: the belief that things have independent, “objective” structures of essences that are knowable “in themselves” (Schiappa, 2003, p. 36; quoting Barnes, p. 79-83). While this approach may seem appropriate when trying to define physical phenomena like “tree” or “planet” which necessarily involves identification of properties that are objectively perceived, the approach quickly becomes complicated when

defining social or metaphysical concepts like “justice” and “good.” What are the essential characteristics of “justice” that we can objectively perceive? Even with the definition of “tree,”

a real definition is problematic because it is unclear how one can determine which

characteristics are objectively essential. According to Schiappa, the essence of a thing depends on one's interest/context, therefore, one cannot search for the “absolute” essence of a thing. For example, a lumberjack may define a tree with an emphasis on characteristics that allow him to distinguish trees from things he cannot chop down, while a chemical engineer may define trees according to its molecular makeup. In other words, “[a] thing-as- experienced may have as many essences as we have interests” (Schiappa, 2003, p. 41). Based on this major critique, philosopher Richard Robinson, along with most modern philosophers, objects to the notion of “real” definitions because they are “at best a mistake and at worst a lie” (Schiappa, 2003, p. 48; Robinson, 1950, p. 170). Robinson uses the word lie because a real definition gives the “false impression” that definition is a matter of correcting “knowledge of facts” rather than a process of isolating characteristics that are relevant to a given purpose (Schiappa, 2003, p. 48; Robinson, 1950, p. 170). To resolve this confusion, Robinson and Schiappa argue that all definitions should be viewed as nominal— that is, arbitrary yet dependent on context. For Schiappa, one way of resolving this confusion is to rephrase the definitional question:

Instead of posing the questions in the time-honored manner of “What is X?”

suggest that we reformulate the matter as “How ought we use the word X?” given our

particular reasons for defining X. Specifically, I advocate that we think of one appropriate form of definition as “X counts as Y in context C.” (p. xi)

, I

Reformulating the question in this way does three very important things. First, the use of “ought” rather than “is” makes it clear that definition is a matter of persuading others to adopt

a new usage of a word rather than a search for the essence of a thing. Second, clarifying

that we are defining a word within a specific “context” makes clear to those engaged in the discussion that context matters, both in terms of how the definition is formulated but also in how it is evaluated. Thirdly, notion of “we” emphasizes the very social nature of the process of definition.

Although stipulative definition is persuasive in nature, this does not mean the process must be a one-way argument where the definer proposes a definition of design and the audience simply agrees or disagrees. If we return to the ancient Greeks, a key aspect of their process of definition was coming to a shared understanding of more than just the term being defined. This dialectical process is illustrated through Plato's dialogues where an interlocutor leads a discussion with one or more people. The discussion often revolves around clarifying important moral concepts such as “justice” and “the good” (Schiappa, 2003, 31). The role of the interlocutor is to help the discussants clarify their often tacit and vague notions of the concepts in question. Definitions are proposed and through scrutiny in the form of argument and examples, the interlocutor shows the discussants that their tacit notions require adjustment. This adjustment leads to a new definition which then bears more scrutiny. Much



of the discussion involves clarifying not just the one term in question but a whole constellation of related terms. Discussion usually opens with a great deal of disagreement and confusion, but through the course of clarifying what each discussant means when using

each related term, disagreement often turns to understanding (or, at least, an understanding of the complexity of what at first seems simple). This back-and-forth, give-and-take process

is called dialectic. Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul (2004) note that the process

of dialectic can be difficult in written form:

Speech is less calculated and more spontaneous with the speaker observing (or listening) whether the response from an audience demonstrates understanding. There is a turn taking that allows repair and clarification. In contrast, writing is discontinuous; misunderstanding may reveal itself only over time and through response (p. 583-584).

Dialectic is not only significant here for its relationship to Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul's description of oral speech acts, but more importantly, it points to a method to be used for not only forming a definition but also achieving consensus among a group of users.

A second point regarding the social nature of definition, actually directs us back to lexical

definition and the role it plays in conjunction with stipulative definition. One of the traps of stipulative definition is that it cannot simply ignore conventions of language users when making a stipulation. Ignoring convention is called the “Humpty Dumpty theory of definition”, which comes from Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland, where Humpty-Dumpty “says that he can make words mean whatever he wants them to mean” (Govier, 2005, p. 99). Although it

is certainly possible for one to define words however one wants, the value of doing so is

very limited, since one will have no way of sharing this knowledge with others. Govier (2005) explains: “If a person defines words arbitrarily with no attention to public conventions, other people will not understand them and the words will have no use” (p. 100). She continues by reminding us of a fundamental value of words in language:

Words in a language are public instruments for communication in that language, and a stipulative definition is useful only if it sets out predictable and comprehensible standards of use that are workable for the purpose at hand. (Govier, 2005, p. 100)

Seeing words as public instruments is valuable because all the reasons given for defining design at the start of this paper revolved around a community of language users: designers. Since one cannot define design in a bubble, lexical definitions or a record of previous usage must be a type of definition employed (although not central).

While this summary covers the key debates regarding definition, it is by no means exhaustive. The most important point this summary can demonstrate is that definition is full of complexities. Due to the great difference in purpose of and method used between a) type of definition, and b) definitional approach, it is essential that prior to all formal discussions about definition, discussants state their purpose and approach upfront. If this is not done and discussants jump straight into the process of definition with no knowledge of these dilemmas, it is likely that these dilemmas will cause great confusion and even great conflict about the proposed definitions without the discussants understanding that their differences lay in more fundamental issues than a simple difference of opinion regarding proposed definitions.

Based on the summary above, I propose that designers approach definition from a pragmatic perspective, seeing definition as a proposal for new usage that must be negotiated by designers according to the purposes of definition that they collectively



determine. This community of designers could be small (a school faculty determining a definition or vision of design for curriculum development) or large, in the case outlined by Love, Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul (determining a common usage for a community of researchers). This approach assumes that definition is nominal and, therefore, avoids metaphysical dilemmas about the “true” or “real” nature of design, and instead evaluates proposed definitions based upon practical ends, such as the development of clear connections between other disciplines. Within this approach, several methods can be employed to form and then evaluate the definition. The species/genus method of definition is valuable for differentiating design from other activities and then establishing logical consistency between a constellation of terms required to understand the phenomenon of design. The etymological method helps provide an understanding of how and why the word has changed. The lexical method is used to avoid humpty-dumptyism that increases the chances others will take up the novel definition. Finally, the ostensive method can help one illustrate one's definition by pointing to examples.

Future directions

“What is design?” As this paper demonstrates, this question is highly complex. It is fraught with as many linguistic and theoretical difficulties as the age-old philosophical question:

“What is art?” But, due to its relatively recent emergence as a discipline and limited discourse, there is only a fraction of the literature. This confusion poses problems for the teaching of design and for the sharing of knowledge about design. In fact, the ambiguity is so great, some argue that one cannot even call design a discipline; and as long as design remains as ambiguous as it is today, creating a body of theory unique to it will prove very elusive and, without which, complexity will be even more difficult to manage.

While Love, Poggenpohl, Chayutsahakij and Jeamsinkul make strong arguments for the need to build stronger philosophic foundations in design and, specifically, clarification of key terms through definition, these are only four voices. There are others who have written on this same issue (Buchanan, 2001; Bamford, 1990; Friedman, 2003; Galle, 2008; Owen, 1998) but the list is short and little progress has been made in the last ten years. Hence, there is still a need for greater research into establishing reasons for why focusing on the process of definition is valuable for design researchers, practitioners and educators. Many designers simply don't think a general definition of design is attainable even in small contexts (let alone the larger community as a whole) and even worse, they do not see the process of definition as being beneficial. Hopefully, through this paper and similar efforts by others, we can generate a greater, more informed and productive debate about the definition and foundations of design and how this impacts the research, teaching and practice of design.


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Southern Illinois University Press.

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Robert Andruchow

Robert is principal of a design and communications company called VisCom Design. His company focuses on enabling social, political and environmental groups build capacity and create political and social change through an integration of new (web, social networking) and traditional media (print, advertising). Robert also teaches design fundamentals, design theory, design research and interactive design as a part-time instructor at the University of



Alberta, Canada. He is currently finishing his Masters of Design in Visual Communication Design.



Interaction Designers’ Conceptions of Design Quality for Interactive Artifacts

Mattias Arvola, Linköping University and Södertörn University, Sweden,


It is important to be aware of different ways of seeing design quality of interactive artifacts in order to appreciate the various aspects of a design, but how do professional interaction designers understand design quality? In theory, one way of approaching design quality of interactive artifacts has been the Vitruvian principles of commodity, firmness and delight, originally created for architecture. Such frameworks are, however, seldom directly employed in practice. This paper investigates what conceptions professional interaction designers have of design quality for interactive artifacts. Interviews were conducted with ten designers. The analysis disclosed four conceptions concerning: (a) Constraints & contexts, (b) motivations & purposes, (c) use-qualities of functions & content, and (d) experiential qualities of form & behaviour. An awareness of these conceptions may facilitate the appreciation for different aspects and opportunities in a design situation.

Keywords interaction design; design quality; use-qualities; conceptions, user experience.

Interaction design has many fields of origin that potentially have different design ideals. This means that there is a complexity in the criteria and values that shape an interactive artifact. So what do professional interaction designers really mean when they say that an interactive artifact is an example of good or bad design? It is likely that different designers have quite different conceptions of what good design really is? It is important for researchers, students, professional designers, critics and managers in interaction design to be aware of different ways of seeing design quality of interactive artifacts in order to appreciate the various aspects of a design. Alternative perspectives can open up for reflection, learning, and change, but the lack of such awareness may obscure design opportunities (Hult, Irestig & Lundberg, 2006). The conception of design quality among interaction designers is the problem area of this paper, but first a few words on the notion of interaction design.

In their design effort, interaction designers focus on interaction with artifacts and experiences of

interactive artifacts. Bill Moggridge and Bill Verplank coined the term interaction design in the late 1980s to describe their work at the intersection of industrial design, information design, graphics, human factors, and computer science. Moggridge (2007) pictured a creative and imaginative design discipline working with software, designing behaviours, animations, sounds, and shapes. Like industrial design the new design discipline would focus on qualitative values. It would start with the needs and desires of people who would use a product or service, and aim towards designs that would give aesthetic pleasure, lasting satisfaction and enjoyment. Verplank summarizes his view on the interaction designer’s job by answering the three questions; how you “do”, “feel” and “know” (Moggridge, 2007). Interaction design does, however, not only involve shaping conditions for the interaction between people and artifacts. It also involves shaping conditions for the interaction between people by means of artifacts (Arvola, 2005; Buchanan, 2001; Hernwall & Arvola, 2008). This points towards understanding interaction as conversation, which is

a more complex process than the feedback loop used in Verplank’s do, feel, and know questions

(Dubberly, Pangaro, & Haque, 2009). The word interaction in human-computer interaction design, can be defined as a mutually and reciprocally performed action between several parties in close contact, where at least one party is human and at least one is computer-based (Arvola, 2005). This gives a background to interaction design, before returning to the issue of design quality in this field.



Design Quality

A multifaceted approach to design quality has been used in architecture since Antiquity, when Vitruvius described the virtues of a building in the terms utilitas, firmitas, and venustas. An often- used translation of those terms is commodity, firmness and delight. The same framework is still used today as in for example the Design Quality Indicator—DQI (Gann, Salter & Whyte, 2003)— where the three Vitruvian principles have been given a modern day interpretation in a conceptual framework consisting of three aspects: Function (use, access and space of a building), Build Quality (performance, engineering systems and construction), and Impact (form, materials, internal environment, urban and social integration, identity and character). DQI is pictured as a pyramid with sides representing function, build quality and impact. The form of a pyramid highlights the multifaceted nature of design quality. Gann et al. (2003) give the example of lighting in a building, which has a functional quality of providing a bright and accessible work area, but also has an impact on the pleasure and wellbeing in use of the building.

The Vitruvian principles have also been introduced in interaction design theory by Ehn and Löwgren (1997) who defined a framework for quality-in-use of interactive artifacts. Their interpretation of the Vitruvian includes structural aspects assessed from, a constructional quality perspective, functional aspects assessed from an ethical quality perspective, and formal aspects assessed from an aesthetic quality perspective.

Dahlbom and Mathiassen (1993) have introduced a similar framework for quality of IT-artifacts. Their work is built on the design movement of the Swedish functionalists during the first half of the 20th century (Paulsson & Paulsson, 1956). Their framework includes four quality aspects for evaluating technical artifacts: functionality, for evaluating practical use; aesthetics for evaluating looks and experiences; symbolism, for evaluating social use, what it means to us and signals to others; and politics for evaluating wider effects on peoples’ lives, including power relations, coercions, and liberties supported and encouraged by the artifact. The political aspect is also closely related to ethical issues concerning what practices and behaviours are supported and required from users.

These theoretical frameworks for design quality have also been used in combination (Arvola, 2005, 2007; Johansson & Arvola, 2007), but they are still theory; the question here is instead how practicing interaction designers conceptualize design quality.


The units of analysis in this paper are conceptions of quality that interaction designers have. A ‘conception’ is a specific way “in which people understand a particular phenomenon or aspect of the world around them” (Marton & Pong, 2005, p. 335). Conceptions are represented by qualitatively different meanings or ‘categories of description’ of the phenomenon. A ‘conception’ has in earlier research also been called ‘ways of conceptualizing’, ‘ways of experiencing’, ‘ways of understanding’ ‘ways of apprehending’ and ‘ways of seeing’ (Marton & Pong, 2005). Conceptions are also structurally linked to each other in what is called an ‘outcome space’ that describes logical relations (often hierarchically inclusive) between different ways of seeing a phenomenon.

The aim of this study is to explore the range of different ways of conceptualizing design quality among professional interaction designers. The result will be an analysis of categories of description and a clarification of structural relationships between these categories.

When describing designers’ ways of conceptualizing quality one can distinguish between structural and referential aspects of experience (Marton & Booth, 1997). Structural aspects refer to the discernment of the whole from the context and discernment of the parts and their relationships within the whole. Referential aspects of experience refer to identification of what something is; the assignment of meaning.

Another distinction, used in phenomenology, is between an external and an internal horizon of experience (Marton & Booth, 1997). The external horizon of experience is that which surrounds the phenomenon experienced including its contours. The internal horizon of experience is the parts and their relationships, together with the contours of the phenomenon.



The research question for this study is: What are the conceptions interaction designers have of design quality in relation to interactive artifacts? The theoretical framework for design quality and conceptions forms the background to the study. Next, the method for answering this research question is presented.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten professional interaction designers. Interviews were recorded and transcribed into a verbatim transcript, which was analyzed using qualitative content analysis.


Ten interaction designers (four female and six male), with four to thirteen years of work experience, participated in the study. Two participants were based in Finland and eight were based in Sweden. The designers in Sweden had an educational background in cognitive science and human-computer interaction with a profile in interaction design. One of the designers in Finland was originally from Spain, but had lived in Finland for eleven years. He had an educational background in business and new media with a design angle. The other designer in Finland described himself as a media artist and designer, and had an educational background in photography and installation art. The different areas that the participants worked in covered government websites, intranets, office applications, electronic medical record software, air traffic management software, concept design for future home communication, ambient media, interactive exhibitions, and mobile television applications. Participants worked as freelance designers, at small and medium-sized usability and design consultancies, and as in-house designers at software companies.

Data Collection

The interviews were semi-structured and ranged from 45 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes. Five of the interviews were conducted face to face and five were conducted over distance via video calls. Three interviews were audio recorded and seven interviews were also video recorded. The two interviews conducted in Finland were made by one interviewer, and another interviewer made the interviews in Sweden. The interview guide was revised after the first two interviews. It focused on the participants’ workplace, role, projects, background, views on design quality, and design processes. All taped material from the interviews was transcribed and partly normalized to a written form. Names of clients were removed from the transcripts.

Procedure of Analysis

The procedure of analysis in this study builds on Graneheim’s and Lundman’s (2004) review of the methodological literature on qualitative content analysis.

The interviews were read through and listened to several times to obtain a sense of the whole. Overarching content areas in the interview text was then identified. Sections concerning design quality were extracted and brought together into one text. The extracted text was divided into meaning units that subsequently were condensed. The condensed meaning units were abstracted and labelled with a code. The various codes were compared based on differences and similarities and sorted into 19 sub-categories and 7 categories, which constitute the manifest content. The tentative categories were discussed by a group of researchers and revised. What differed between the researchers were assessments about sub-categories, and the wording of specific codes and categories. Reflection and discussion resulted in agreement about how to order the codes. Finally, the underlying meaning, that is, the latent content, of the categories was formulated into themes.

The empirically driven qualitative content analysis was followed by a more theoretical analysis. The relations between categories of description were analyzed in more detail to map out the space of different ways of seeing design quality of interactive artifacts. The theoretical concepts of referential aspects, structural aspects, internal horizon and external horizon were used in this analysis to clarify the structure of that space.




Two overarching themes emerged in the analysis: Getting the right design and getting the design right. As a side note, the two themes also form the title of a paper on usability testing of alternative design solutions by Tohidi, Buxton, Baecker and Sellen (2006), as well as the subtitle of the book Sketching User Experiences by Buxton (2007). The different conceptions are presented in Table 1.


Conception of Design Quality of Interactive Artifacts as:

Getting the

A: Managing constraints on the interactive artifact

right design

B: Delivering a motivated interactive artifact

Getting the

C: Creating opportunities for usage of the interactive artifact and its contents and functions

design right

D: Creating opportunities for experiences of the interactive artifact and its form and behaviour

Table 1 Conceptions of design quality of interactive artifacts grouped around the two themes The right design and The design right

Conceptions A and B concerns getting the right design in relation to constraints and motivations, while conceptions C and D concerns getting the design of functions, content, form and behavior right. Getting the right design answers the question of why a design should be developed. Getting the design right answers how the design should be composed.

Conception A: Design Quality as Managing Constraints on the Interactive Artifact

Design quality can be seen as adapting to the conditions of a design project. An example is provided below:

I sometimes feel that you may have focused a bit more on this like ideal design on what you would have wanted to do if all preconditions where there, like time and opportunities, and no, for example, particular tool is chosen and so on. Such fixed parameters, you just have to take them into account because they’re not gonna change during the project you do. (Interview 9, Row 118, translated from Swedish)

In the example above it is highlighted that it is one thing to have high standards and high ideals, but quite another to reach those ideals under the constraints of a particular project. The design quality of a product or service can therefore be seen in the light of the conditions under which it was produced.

Participants noted that a design project is performed in relation to technical conditions of what can or cannot be done within given financial constraints. The design project is often scoped in relation to already made decisions regarding technical platforms, or there might already be, for instance, a publishing system in place to which the design of a website needs to adapt. In such cases there must be a technical fit between the design and the existing technical context. Design projects are also performed in relation to organizational conditions of issues like roles and power structures that one cannot change and must adhere to.

The focus, when viewing design quality this way, is on the preconditions and the context of the design project; factors that are external to the interactive artifact as such.

Conception B: Design Quality as Delivering a Motivated Interactive Artifact

Design quality can be seen as delivering an interactive artifact motivated by different stakeholders. An example is provided below:

Yeah, well that is a question of design quality then. What is, what is good quality in… a design, a product that you have participated in developing then, service. And now you come back to you know why did we build this in the first place, who are, what needs have we really been trying to satisfy. Both for users and customers and the organization as such. And that is of course, that is the answer to the question somehow. (Interview 3, Row 214.b, translated from Swedish)



In this example the participant returns to the question of why something was built in relation to

latent needs of users, customers and organizations. The basis for design quality can thus be seen as whether an interactive artifact meets its purposes or not, given that the design fits the already existing technical and organizational contexts. The interactive artifact needs to have values in use

for the people and the organizations it concerns. Values in use, exemplified by participants, may be to contribute to experiences, effectiveness and business utility.

A design can communicate a business strategy or contribute to strategic ways of working. A focus

on experience and beauty, which is a higher standard than mere elegance, can also be part of the purpose of the interactive artifact in relation to a business strategy.

A focus on usefulness as an overarching goal is a more instrumental view than user experience.

This view indicates efficiency in the organization, effects before form, design solutions that are sustainable over time, and meeting the user, customer and business needs behind the design brief.

Related to the purpose of the design are the intended and unintended effects of the design and the ethical consequences of those effects. The purpose of interaction design can also be to create new conditions for a strategic way of working, by supporting a particular way of using the interactive artifact in a specific situation.

The focus in this conception of design quality is on the motivations that drive people and businesses.

Conception C: Design Quality as Creating Opportunities for Usage of the Interactive Artifact and its Contents and Functions

Design quality can be seen as concerning the use of content and functions of the interactive artifact. An example is provided below:

Good design, it has to

objective of being something that is useful, you know? … So that people can really use it … in the most efficient and simple way. (Interview 1, Row 90–95)

In this example the participant started out in Conception B with ”something that is useful” and then

specified that to something that people can use in an efficient and simple way. The things that are used are functions and content of the interactive artifact. The use of the functions and contents of an interactive artifact must also be safe.

The focus in this conception of design quality is on qualities of the interactive artifact in use.

fulfil a few requirements, it has to be something that fulfils the main

Conception D: Design Quality as Creating Opportunities for Experiences of the Interactive Artifact and its Form and Behaviour

Design quality can be seen as concerning experiences of form and behaviour of the interactive artifact. An example is provided below:

On a personal level I think it’s easy to talk about good and bad design insofar that a solution is kind of obviously elegant, right. That it is simple, it’s clear, you have taken away lots of fuss that makes it easier to zoom through it, or it’s cool, it has cool interaction, it’s, it’s kind of modern at the forefront of what’s currently considered good interaction design. And form. (Interview 3, Row 214.b, translated from Swedish)

In the example above, the same participant as in the example from Conception B, continues to

describe his way of conceptualizing design quality by covering Conception C in terms of simple and clear usage, but he also covers the area of elegance and cool, modern or even interesting form. The form (including interactive form – i.e. behaviour) of the interactive artifact can accordingly also be the basis for design quality. It should ideally be interesting and modern, even though this may be an issue open to interpretation and taste.

Beside from interesting, the form and behaviour should as indicated by the example above, also be elegant in its simplicity and clarity. In this way of seeing design quality, beautiful form and behaviour follows function, and the aesthetics are contrasted to the practical.



The focus in this conception of design quality is on experiential qualities of the interactive artifact.

Space of Conceptions for Design Quality of the Interactive Artifact

The outcome space of design quality can be summarized as in Table 2.


Referential aspects

Structural aspects



Design quality as managing constraints on the interactive artifact.

Focuses on preconditions and contexts of the design project.



Design quality as delivering a motivated interactive artifact.

Focuses on the purpose of the interactive artifact and how it meets the motivations that people and businesses have.




Design quality as creating opportunities for usage of the interactive artifact and its contents and functions.

Focuses on the use of the interactive artifact, and its functions and contents, and the qualities displayed in that use.



Design quality as creating opportunities for experiences of the interactive artifact and its form and behaviour.

Focuses on the experience of the form and behaviour of the interactive artifact, the qualities of the experience, and the constituents of the form language.


Table 2 Conceptions of design quality of the interactive artifact

In Table 2, the referential aspects refer to the meaning of design quality. The structural aspects refer to the discernment of the whole phenomenon, and its parts. In Conception A the whole is the design project; in B it is the people and the business; in C it is the use of the interactive artifact; and in D it is the experience of the interactive artifact. The parts discerned are preconditions and contexts in A, the purpose, motivations and goals in B, and qualities, functions and contents in C, and qualities, form, behaviour and form language in D.

The external horizon of design quality of the interactive artifact is the constraints for the design project in the specific situation that the designers find themselves in. The internal horizon, i.e. the parts and their relationships, of design quality of the interactive artifact consists of motivations and purposes, functions and content, behaviour and form.

The relations between the conceptions of design quality as well-designed interactive artifact can be represented as a logically inclusive structure in an outcome space. This is depicted in Figure 1, and it also illustrates the internal horizon (B, C and D), and the external horizon (A and B). B belongs to both the internal and the external horizon of experience, by forming the contours of the phenomenon, since the purpose belongs to the interactive artifact while the stakeholders’ motivations belong to the context.



30 A C B D DRS2010 PROCEEDINGS Figure 1 The hierarchy of logical relationships between conceptions


Figure 1 The hierarchy of logical relationships between conceptions of design quality of the interactive artifact

The figure means that Conception B is implied by Conception A since the conditions of the design project form the backdrop for the purpose of the interactive artifact. Conception B implies both Conception C and D in that the contents and functions, and their form and behaviour are means that contribute to the purpose, which is to deliver an interactive artifact that meets stakeholders’ motivations and fit the context.


The results can be interpreted using the theoretical frameworks for design quality presented in the introduction. Such an interpretation is depicted in Table 3.



Design quality aspects


Design quality as managing constraints on the interactive artifact.

Structural, ethical, political.


Design quality as delivering a motivated interactive artifact.

Functional, aesthetic, ethical.


Design quality as creating opportunities for usage of the interactive artifact and its contents and functions.

Primarily functional, secondarily symbolical.


Design quality as creating opportunities for experiences of the interactive artifact and its form and behaviour.

Primarily aesthetic, secondarily symbolical.

Table 3 Relations between interaction designers’ conceptions of design quality and design quality aspects derived from the theoretical framework

Conception A: Design quality as managing constraints on the interactive artifact, has to do with what can and cannot be done in terms of technical and organizational structure. It also has to do with political and ethical issues related to power structures. This conception belongs to the external horizon of design quality for the interaction designers, and is thus something they experience as framing but not something that is focal for them.

Conception B: Design quality as delivering a motivated interactive artifact, has to do with the purpose of the design and the motives of the stakeholders. It is about delivering value in use of the artifact, whether it is functional usefulness and strategic ways of working for users or organizations, or aesthetic experience.

Conception C: Design quality as creating opportunities for usage of the interactive artifact and its contents and functions, has primarily a functional dimension in simple efficient ways of using an artifact. In simplicity there are also symbolic or communicational dimensions since functions and contents need to be presented in a clear and efficient way.

Conception D: Design quality as creating opportunities for experiences of the interactive artifact and its form and behaviour, has primarily an aesthetic dimension in elegant behaviour and form. It is also concerned with a symbolic dimension in creating interesting experiences.

The results indicate accordingly that the participants conceptualized symbolic, social and communicational aspects as secondary to, or at least not separate from, functional and aesthetic



dimensions. The functional also seems to come before the aesthetic. Both these aspects are conceived as instrumental to the purpose.

No interaction designer had only one conception of design quality. In fact, in order to discern qualities of a phenomenon (such as an interactive artifact) one needs to experience variation in that which is discerned (Marton & Booth, 1997). One way to achieve variation of experiences is to actively shift conceptions (Hult, Irestig & Lundberg, 2006). Both Gann et al. (2003) and Ehn & Löwgren (1997) indicate this when arguing that a specific feature or quality does not belong to only one quality aspect. Participants in this study constantly moved between conceptions in their reasoning.

Verplank has three questions an interaction design has to answer (Moggridge, 2007): How do you do, know, and feel? An interaction designer does, however, not directly shape how people do, know and feel. He or she can only indirectly affect these issues. So what is it interaction designers do shape directly? It has been argued that it is the conditions for interaction that are shaped (Arvola, 2005; Hernwall & Arvola, 2008). Although not the focus for this study, the results indicates that shaping these conditions includes deciding the form and behaviour at the surface of the interactive artifact, and deciding the functions and content at its core, in relation to contextually dependent purposes and motives for users and businesses.

When interpreting the results of this study some caution is called for. The interview material analyzed here has to do with how interaction designers talk about design quality in general. It is not connected to specific design projects, and it is not situated in design action. An analysis of project specific quality judgements, or situated quality judgements may show that they in reality reason differently from how they say they reason. Future research will have to tell.

The results do not represent the full range of possible ways of conceptualizing design quality for this group at this time. Such a study would not be possible to conduct. All participants were from Sweden and Finland, and most of them had an educational background in cognitive science and human-computer interaction with an interaction design profile. Another sample may disclose other ways of seeing design quality in interaction design.

Design quality is always a topic for discussion in the design community, but do we talk about the same thing? The results would be interesting to contrast with the conceptions human factors specialists, industrial designers, graphic designers, and engineering designers have. Or why not game designers or artists in interactive art?

At face value, the results may seem equally applicable to industrial designers or graphical designers as to interaction designers. If we, however, look at the results more closely we see issues like supporting specific ways of working and interacting among users in organizations, and we find issues about behaviour, and combinations of content and functions of interactive artifacts that are typical to the interaction design discipline.


Four different conceptions that interaction designers have about design quality for interactive artifacts were identified, and they can be expressed in a condensed form as: (a) Constraints & contexts, (b) motivations & purposes, (c) use-qualities of functions & content, and (d) experiential qualities of form & behaviour. An awareness of these conceptions may facilitate researchers, students, practitioners, critics, and managers of interaction design in their appreciation of different aspects and opportunities of a design situation.


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Author Biography

Mattias Arvola An interaction design researcher and lecturer with a Ph. D. in cognitive systems from Linköping University in Sweden. His background is in cognitive science in a combination with training in interaction design. His research is primarily in human-computer interaction and social computing, with a focus is on methods like sketching, enactments, patterns, personas and scenarios. Another strand of the research is the role of assessment and appreciation in design considerations, and models of user experience, use-quality, and usability.


Émergences du design et complexité sémantique des



Claire Azéma, Université de Bordeaux 3, MICA, Stéphanie Cardoso, Université de Bordeaux 3, MICA, Marc Monjou, CeReS, Limoges,


L'exposition « Love design », en 2009, et notamment le 8ème ciel de Matali Crasset, manifeste l'intérêt du design pour l'érotisme et les sextoys. Nous traiterons ici des glissements sémantiques opérés ces dernières années dans le monde des objets à usage sexuel. Le phallus, devenu un artefact hypertechnologique ou bien un objet habillé d’une iconographie issue d’un bestiaire, évince le registre pornographique au profit d'une apparence ludique ou raffinée. Les sextoys mettent donc en lumière la complexité sémantique à l'œuvre dans la construction d'un nouveau champ de pratiques afin de faire accéder le produit à l'univers commun. A travers cet objet d'étude, le design est interrogé dans une démarche à double tranchant. L'élaboration d'une cohérence sémantique repositionne le discours des sextoys mais elle se limite souvent à l'iconographie et à la technique en quête d'efficacité. Dès lors, le design, vecteur de cohérence sémantique au sein de ce terrain hétérogène émergent, reste en deçà de ses capacités à construire des scénarii complexes des diverses pratiques sexuelles.


The exhibition « Love design », in 2009, and in particular the 8ème ciel of Matali Crasset, shows the interest of design for the eroticism and the sextoys. We deal with semantic movements operated these last years in the world of objects with sexual usage. The phallus, become a hypertechnological artefact or an object dressed in an existent iconography of a bestiary, ousts from the pornographic reference in benefit of a funny or refined appearance. Sextoys highlights therefore semantic complexity in the structure of the new practice's reference in order to democratize the product. About this research, the design is asked in a double-edged approach. The structure of a semantic coherence redirect the speech about sextoys but it often limits itself in the iconography and in the technological in search of efficiency. From then, the design, vector of semantic coherence within this emergent heterogeneous subject, stays on this side of its capacities to construct complex screen play of various sexual practices.


Design and sex; sextoys and society; perception/cognition of sextoys; design of sextoys for well being; sex efficiency; sexual practice and creativity.

Nous avons observé depuis le début des années 2000, l’apparition de sextoys dans les vitrines des centres villes en Europe et en Amérique du Nord, des sextoys ludiques, colorés ou encore élégants et raffinés qui s’éloignent de l’univers pornographique. L’émergence de ces sextoys dans les love-shops sous entend un nouveau niveau de visibilité sociale important. Ces sextoys, expression que l’on pourrait traduire par « jouets sexuels » ou plutôt jouets érotiques, constituent l’objet de notre étude au titre de territoire d’un design émergeant. Notre approche traite d’une étude contextuelle en France, susceptible d’être




vérifiée dans les pays occidentaux. Le basculement stylistique de ces sextoys fait état d’un rhizome sémantique complexe, c’est-à-dire qu’il utilise des unités esthétiques permettant d’opérer des glissements du point de vue de sa lisibilité, de la cible visée et par là-même, de l’univers social dans lequel il fonctionne. L'émergence de ce nouveau marché associé à de nouvelles cibles et usages constitue un observatoire privilégié pour comprendre l'apparition et les implications du design au sein même des complexités qui articulent de nouveaux usages à la société, de nouvelles entreprises à leurs clients et de nouveaux produits aux cultures établies. Ce terrain est en fait relativement vaste et nous présenterons ici l’élaboration de notre projet d’étude et les premières conclusions observées. Cette étude est un travail de recherche en cours par le regard croisé de chercheurs en science de l’Art, en design et en sémiotique, nous proposons une première analyse du terrain qui vise à mettre en place et à structurer un projet de recherche plus vaste, interrogeant la part du design dans ces pratiques sexuelles intégrant l'artefact.

Le développement des sextoys nous semble relatif à une évolution du terrain des pratiques sexuelles et de la société avant d'être un phénomène lié au design. Ce serait parce que des initiatives concrètes disparates des distributeurs et des usagers sont apparues que les sextoys ont connu un renouveau. Ils sont en effet, les héritiers des traditionnels godemichés issus de pratiques ancestrales et vibromasseurs mis au point au XIXème siècle dans le milieu médical. Longtemps cantonné à l'univers des sex-shops, ils sortent aujourd'hui de cet univers déclassé et jugé socialement vulgaire pour intégrer au même titre que les pratiques qui y sont associées une nouvelle norme sexuelle. Pour les promoteurs des sextoys, la revalorisation des produits a nécessité une redéfinition des codes sémantiques associés aux produits qui correspond au passage d'un paradigme négatif à un paradigme positif que nous montrerons plus loin. Comment un tel glissement catégoriel s’est-il opéré ? Que nous apprend ce glissement sémantique sur l’évolution des valeurs associées à ces produits ? Quel est le rôle du design dans l’élaboration de cette nouvelle sémantique ? De plus, ce type de jouet sexuel excluant le corps de l'autre au sein d'une pratique autonome où le complétant au sein d'une pratique partagée, nous conduit à se demander ce qu'il reste de l'amour et du sexe quand cela ne fonctionne pas. La contre-performance peut-elle être entendue comme un ressort créatif du sexe ? En d'autres termes, et à une plus large échelle, le design cherchant systématiquement à proposer des solutions performantes, ne conduit-il pas dans le cas du sexe et peut-être à une plus large échelle à un épuisement des ressources créatives de l'humain ainsi qu'à une standardisation du plaisir sexuel ? Ces questions concernant la créativité de l’usager montrent la portée des enjeux que constituent l’implication du design dans les plaisirs sexuels. Notre étude portera dans un premier temps sur le rôle du design en tant que vecteur corrélatif de la complexité sémantique associée aux produits. Nous nous aiderons pour cela des conclusions actuelles de certains sociologues comme Coulmont et Bozon ainsi que d'une approche intuitive du terrain étudié. Du point de vue du design, la complexité sémantique repose à la fois sur la technique, la manipulation, la sensorialité et l'image du produit ainsi que sur tout le discours et la rhétorique « marketing » qui l'entourent. Au sein de cet ensemble de valeurs (technique, usage, esthétique, sociologique) que l’objet intègre, chacune est porteuse de sens. Ce qui fait design en l'objet constituerait entre autres choses, l'unification de cette complexité sémantique. Il nous semble que dans le cas des sextoys, la complexité des sens construits et portés par l’objet est renforcée par le modèle intime et relationnel des usages au sein duquel il s'inscrit. Dans notre enquête de terrain, nous avons observé à quel point ses produits, même possédant une forte valeur d'image, semblent fortement tributaires des discours qui en font la promotion, organisés par les médias, par les vendeurs, ou encore par les témoignages organisés au sein de cercles de femmes tenus à domicile ou dans les boutiques spécialisées. De l'objet aux espaces de distribution, en passant par le packaging et les discours médiatiques (séries TV, etc.), nous avons affaire à un processus global de transformation, duquel il serait vain d'isoler la dimension « objet » comme dimension autonome et lieu du design. Ici, il s'agit plutôt d'une économie générale en



mutation, dont le design est vraisemblablement un instrument privilégié. L'intérêt de cette étude est de pouvoir observer ces phénomènes en direct et peut-être d'entrevoir à terme, et à titre d'anticipation prospective, les futures transformations possibles en matière design de sextoys.

Du point de vue de la méthode et de l'échantillonnage de l'objet d'étude, l’offre en matière de sextoys « nouvelle génération » est très étendue et elle est structurée en catégories variables selon les marques, et plus ou moins cohérentes selon le critère catégoriel considéré : genre d'objet (boules, godes, anneaux, etc. objets inédits), cibles (H/F,

Homo/hétéro, âge, secteur (luxe/

aventurier, familier, etc). La définition d'un corpus d'étude étendu présentait donc des difficultés objectives, et à ce stade (inchoatif) de notre travail de recherche. A titre d'entrée en matière, et de manière plutôt intuitive et phénoménologique, nous avons simplement choisi des objets présentant des « saillances fortes » et des niveaux de « présence » élevés ; objets auxquels nous avons conféré une valeur d'échantillons-types pour commencer notre étude. Ainsi, notre étude se limitera ici à un échantillonnage choisi de vibromasseurs. Il est question d'étudier le degré d'esthétisme, de performance et la valeur sémantique observable dans cet ensemble d'objets afin de comprendre les glissements sémantiques sur plusieurs niveaux. Dans un deuxième temps de l’étude, nous projetons de vérifier cette analyse en évaluant la perception des potentiels usagers mais aussi des utilisateurs afin de repérer précisément les valeurs et les parcours sémantiques en jeu, ainsi que les modes subjectifs d'appréhension de ces valeurs chez les utilisateurs (féminins et masculins) de ces objets de désir. Un différenciateur sémantique soumis à un panel d'utilisateurs et de non-utilisateurs permettra d’évaluer la perception et les usages des sextoys étudiés ici. Enfin, cette nouvelle génération de sextoys, nous semble démonstrative de l'irruption du design au service du développement de nouvelles pratiques du sexe récréationnel. Cela nous invite à nous poser la question suivante, à partir de quand, de quels phénomènes peut- on estimer qu'il y a émergence et développement d’un design au sens d'un projet cohérent. Quels sont les données et les éléments qui vont nous permettre d'évaluer l'apparition ou non de celui-ci ? Y a-t-il différents types de design ou, différents degrés d'application du design détectables au sein de ces émergences ?


valeurs (ludique, technique, performant, « hardcore »,


Notre hypothèse est que le design est un outil d’intégration de la complexité. Lorsque de nouveaux usages ou besoins, apparaissent ou se répandent, le design intègre les complexités des nouvelles significations pour construire une forme de cohérence sémantique au sein de l’environnement quotidien. Outre le plan sémantique, le design apparaîtrait ici en tant que vecteur corrélatif entre les sphères marketing, social, sémantique et stylistique. L’émergence d’une nouvelle génération de sextoys est l’occasion pour nous d’observer comment et sous quelles formes le design apparaît au sein d’un terrain hétérogène en recherche de lisibilité. Dans un premier temps, nous traiterons des mutations sociales actuelles liées aux sextoys afin de contextualiser l'émergence d'un design dans une seconde partie. Cette étude sera enfin approfondie par l'analyse de plusieurs cas. L'élaboration de ces glissements sémantiques nous conduira aussi à pointer les limites d'une quête d'efficacité.

Mutations sociales

En 2001, Elisabeth Bernstein « évoquait le déplacement de certaines conceptions de l’intimité sexuelle, d’un modèle relationnel vers un modèle « récreational » (Coulmont, 2007 :

231). L’évolution des modèles relationnels de la sexualité serait partie prenante du développement des sextoys. Ce déplacement des valeurs a permis l’apparition de ces nouveaux produits destinés à compléter les pratiques récréationnelles et ludiques du sexe qui devient un loisir comme un autre. Il s’agit en fait d’une redéfinition sémantique d’appareils déjà existants comme le godemiché et le vibromasseur opérant un déplacement sémantique des codes de la pornographie vers ceux de l’érotisme, du sexy, du ludique et du bien-être.




Dans son ouvrage Sex-shops : Une histoire française, Baptiste Coulmont explique que la manifestation de ce glissement sémantique est d’abord apparue avec un nouveau type de magasins qui se démarquaient des sex-shops en s’installant hors des quartiers chauds associés à la pornographie, dans des rues plus passantes et jugées moins vulgaires. Dans ces magasins, explique-t-il « les gadgets sont présentés en terme de « récréation ». Attwood souligne donc le rapprochement constant des vibromasseurs avec les jouets et surtout les vêtements, ainsi que l’éviction des formes visuelles de la pornographie » (Coulmont, 2007 :

232). Celle-ci est rejetée « vers le sale, le malsain, l’atteinte à la dignité humaine et [l’objectif devient] d’élever l’objet sexy vers le sain, le beau, l’éthique. Les promoteurs des sextoys sont donc des producteurs de normes sexuelles. » (Coulmont, 2007 : 237) Ces « love-shops » ou « sexy-stores » par le nouveau nom qu’ils se donnent, montrent bien que le développement de ces nouveaux produits est dans un premier temps fondé sur une redéfinition sémantique du discours sur l’objet. L’élaboration de ce nouveau discours vise essentiellement la valorisation de nouvelles pratiques sexuelles récréatives s’opposant à la pornographie, jugée vulgaire, et s’intègrent selon leurs promoteurs à une sexualité positive : c’est-à-dire « en couple, à la maison, hétérosexuelle, stable ». Si le sociologue B. Coulmont juge que le sextoy fait entrer la sexualité « normale » dans « une zone contestée ni entièrement reléguée dans le pathologique, ni entièrement acceptée » (Coulmont, 2007 : 231) la journaliste Elisabeth Weissman, quant à elle, considère qu’en « massifiant [la production du sextoy], en le médiatisant, en le commercialisant, en le banalisant ainsi, le marché a même réussi ce tour de passe-passe : faire perdre au gode son pouvoir transgressif » (Weissman, 2008 : 108). Nous le voyons, les sextoys ont ouvert une brèche dans les usages sexuels acceptés comme norme et continuent à poser question à la société et aux consommateurs. Beaucoup de choses semblent à inventer et notamment le sens de ces pratiques à l’heure où il incombe « aux sujets […] d’établir la signification de leur conduite sexuelle et d’en résoudre les contradictions. » (Bozon, 2009 : 112). Un vaste réseau sémantique est donc encore à établir pour répondre aux diverses significations que l'utilisateur de sextoy peut donner à ses conduites sexuelles, variables selon les situations.

L’émergence d’un design

Conscients des mutations actuelles, les revendeurs n’hésitent pas à ré-emballer les produits pour valoriser une image sensuelle et sensible de la femme à l’aide par exemple, de papiers de soie et de plumes. Ceci dans le but d'évincer l’image de la femme présentée sur les emballages d’origine, jugée dégradante car pornographique. Ce nouveau discours donne un autre rôle à la femme qui n’apparaît plus comme le réceptacle des fantasmes masculins mais devient maîtresse de son propre plaisir et de son bien-être. Ce déplacement sémantique du « sex » vers le « love » et le « sexy » correspond donc à la définition d’une nouvelle cible largement plus féminine, - B. Coulmont parle d’un « processus de féminisation pluriel » (Coulmont, 2007 : 232) - sensible à des valeurs comme l’humour, la sensualité et le beau, sensible à la mode et au design. Les sextoys sont aujourd’hui vendus comme de véritables accessoires de mode, présentés dans des emballages à jour des nouvelles tendances et des magasins décorés avec goût dans des tons allant du pourpre au rose bonbon. Le design de ces magasins est souvent proche de celui du magasin de lingerie, ou d’accessoires de mode et de décoration. Les vibromasseurs sont couramment présentés en position verticale qui leur procure une visibilité attractive. Regroupés par types ou par marque, ils sont exposés comme des objets possédant une certaine aura proche de celle du bijou ou parfois de l’objet d’art. Cette mise en scène fait partie du processus de transformation entre les champs sémantiques que nous avons évoqué.

De manière générale, les sextoys s’émancipent des représentations mimétiques du membre masculin et deviennent de véritables entités indépendantes, des corpuscules aux déclinaisons figuratives variables. Si dans les années 70, l’imitation du membre masculin a pu être un canon érotique, aujourd’hui il semble que les critères ont évolué et s’appliquent à des registres formels variés. Dès lors, le sextoy s'éloigne des représentations mimétiques et




revendique une part d'artifice. Cela le rapproche des conduites sexuelles actuelles caractérisées par ce que Lasch appelle « the flight from feeling », c’est-à-dire « la fuite devant le sentiment » (Lasch, 1979 : 61). Selon cette idée, les émotions sont jugées dangereuses, voire même embarrassantes, elles sont en effet susceptibles d'altérer l’équilibre intérieur de l'individu. L’exemple de la série Sex and the City est illustratif de ces comportements. Cette série américaine traite du sexe selon le point de vue de quatre copines, sans aucun tabou. Elles expérimentent la vie, le sexe, les hommes, les sextoys. Leurs conversations tournent autour de leur rendez-vous manqué, de la taille des pénis de leurs amants ou encore de leurs ex-petits amis. Ces filles trentenaires, représentent le désengagement émotionnel, elles prônent la liberté et exaltent la relation amicale. La protection est de rigueur dans cet individualisme qui conduit à consommer l’individu et à le réduire à un objet de plaisir. Lipovetsky précise que « c’est moins la fuite devant le sentiment qui caractérise notre temps, que la fuite devant les signes de la sentimentalité (Lipovetsky, 1983 : 111). » Au-delà d’une réduction artificielle de l’autre, c’est l’usager lui-même qui se trouve également privé de sa dimension d’auteur-créateur. En effet, lorsque la personne détourne des produits du quotidien pour satisfaire ses plaisirs sensoriels et sexuels (plume, bougie, concombre etc.), il interprète le monde en en proposant une lecture personnelle (décodage sémantique), en cohérence avec son propre système de valeurs en perpétuelle évolution. Les sextoys le privent de cette lecture singulière par laquelle il affirme son individualité. Les sextoys, fixent et figent les figures sémantiques du sexe au sein desquelles l’usager est réduit à un choix nécessairement limité, qui risquent à terme de standardiser les valeurs personnelles de la sexualité. La dimension humaine n’est pas prise en compte, à travers les sextoys, même la morphologie organique de l'autre est évincée. Cette consommation du plaisir par le truchement d'un artefact sans référence directe au corps d'autrui conduit à considérer le sextoy comme une entité à part entière. Le sextoy étant présenté comme un acteur permettant de relancer ou d’agrémenter la libido du couple apparaît comme un tiers, au sein même du couple. D’ailleurs, le love-store Les passages du désir (Fig. 1 et 2) dans le marais à Paris se revendique déjà comme un promoteur du « développement durable du couple ». Pour le sociologue Serge Chaumier, « c’est l’intervention ou la menace du tiers qui relance la mécanique de la passion amoureuse » (Chaumier, 2004 : 25). Son essai sur le nouvel ordre amoureux, n’est pas sans intérêt pour notre étude puisqu’il explique que « le retour du refoulé semble particulièrement s’exprimer dans le domaine de l’érotisme, présent dans de nombreuses créations culturelles. L’inflation des productions érotiques n’est pas sans lien avec l’idéal d’autosuffisance du couple ni sans effet sur la régression progressive de l’adultère comme façon d’extérioriser ses pulsions. (Chaumier, 2004 : 30) » L’érotisation des marchandises constituerait un exutoire à l’extériorisation des pulsions. Les sextoys issus d’une stratégie intégrant le design possèdent à la fois le statut d’objet de mode désirable et d’objet associé au sexe, ils sont probablement le type de biens répondant le mieux à cet assouvissement d’autosuffisance du couple ou de l’individu, ils évoluent donc dans un moment propice à leur développement. Si le glissement sémantique et l’évolution des pratiques se sont d’abord produits de manière diffuse dans la société, le design est intervenu sur ce nouveau terrain de consommation et a permis à de nouvelles marques de se développer avec des concepts originaux. Au sein de ces pratiques émergentes, le design semble avoir favorisé l’intégration des complexités sémantiques en jeu à travers les sextoys en proposant une cohérence plus lisible entre les marques, les gammes, les packagings, les produits et leurs lieux de distribution (magasins et sites web).




38 DRS2010 PROCEEDINGS Figure 1 et 2 Le love-shop « Les passages du désir », Paris
38 DRS2010 PROCEEDINGS Figure 1 et 2 Le love-shop « Les passages du désir », Paris

Figure 1 et 2 Le love-shop « Les passages du désir », Paris

Etude de produits

Pour débuter notre étude de terrain, nous avons opté pour une approche intuitive et effectué une sélection après une large observation des produits via les magasins et les sites internet. Nous avons choisi un échantillonnage de travail afin de refléter la diversité des univers de gammes proposées en vibromasseurs, selon les marques. Une méthode de travail empirique s’est imposée pour appréhender cet univers. Nous nous sommes rendues aux réunions du soir proposées dans les love-shops. Exclusivement réservées aux filles, la potentielle acheteuse est dorlotée avec champagne et petits fours. Nous intégrions dès lors un univers féminin, convivial chic et presque secret à l’abri des hommes. Après avoir détendu l’atmosphère, la vendeuse nous explique à quoi servent et comment utiliser ces vibromasseurs ou ces stimulateurs clitoridiens. A l’écoute, les jeunes femmes manipulent, touchent la matière, appréhendent le lisse, le doux. Elles évaluent les degrés d’intensité de vibration sur le bout du nez ou sur le ventre, elles testent les mouvements rotatifs, le nombre de mouvements différents et les créativités interactives possibles. Au final, ces réunions et la plupart des visites opérées dans les love-shops, ont rendu compte d’une nécessité de




pratiquer, de toucher, de prendre connaissance de ces objets et des performances offertes. Nous avons également questionné les vendeurs et les attachés de presse afin de mieux connaître leurs buts et leur type de clientèle. Les registres formels, esthétiques et techniques repérés dans ces love-shops présentent un ensemble cohérent, une unité qui coordonne leur discours.

Nous résumons ici les résultats de nos observations en nous concentrant sur les cas les plus parlants.

Figure 3 En dessous, le Magic Rabbit

cas les plus parlants. Figure 3 En dessous , le Magic Rabbit Le Magic Rabbit (édition

Le Magic Rabbit (édition internationale, Fig. 3), le Vibro chenille (un modèle représentatif de la gamme de vibromasseurs de la marque Fun Factory (Allemagne), Fig. 4) et le vibromasseur Iris de la marque Lelo (Suède, Fig. 5, 6 & 7). Notre méthode consiste à s’appuyer sur les conclusions actuelles de la sociologie pour situer les nouvelles valeurs véhiculées par ces produits puis à repérer les discours spécifiques de chaque marque pour comprendre comment le design les a fait évoluer. Nous repérerons donc au moins deux niveaux de valeurs dans les discours : le premier, générique, est celui qui permet de faire glisser ces produits de l’image pornographique vers l’image d’un paradigme positif ; le second niveau, plus spécifique, concerne les valeurs propres à chaque marque. Celles-ci constituent en effet des discours distincts contribuant à enrichir par différenciation et segmentation, le discours de ces nouveaux produits. Un autre niveau questionne les valeurs de la discipline du design, celui de la technicité et de l'optimisation des performances orgasmiques en un clic, au risque de négliger les scenarii créatifs des usagers.

Le Magic Rabbit est reconnu comme l’un des must du genre. Popularisé au début des années 2000 par la série Sex and the City, ce modèle est fabriqué en Chine, et distribué dans plusieurs pays sous des marques différentes. Il est pourtant issu des pratiques sexuelles établies au Japon où les sextoys sont répandus depuis longtemps et leur usage très courant. Le Rabbit est un produit misant principalement sur la technique au service de l’orgasme. Il assure à la fois une stimulation clitoridienne et vaginale à l’aide de deux moteurs qui actionnent indépendamment la vibration du stimulateur clitoridien et la rotation des billes de la partie phallique. L’iconographie employée dans le produit semble ambiguë. L’ensemble paraît peu cohérent car les stylisations figuratives mixent des représentations à la fois humaines et animales avec des degrés d’abstraction différents. Cela s’explique en partie par le fait que la représentation mimétique du phallus est prohibée au Japon. Les producteurs du Rabbit, ont donc dû « habiller » l’appareil d’une iconographie suggestive non mimétique. Le petit personnage figuré peut apparaître anecdotique et renvoyer l’appareil au rang du gadget. Néanmoins dans la culture nippone il symbolise la Déesse Kanon, déesse de l’amour et de la compassion présente depuis de siècles sur les godemichés et les vibromasseurs japonais. Le cas du Rabbit est intéressant, il est typique des gadgets vendus depuis plusieurs années dans les sex-shops et gagne




aujourd’hui les love-shops. Il fait partie des appareils souvent ré-emballés ou présentés hors de leur emballage trop connoté. De plus, le Rabbit montre une incohérence entre l'emballage, le produit et son mode de distribution. Comparé à certains de ses actuels concurrents, le Rabbit conserve l’image du gadget valorisant la partie technique de l’appareil grâce à la transparence du plastique coloré employé. La transparence offre la possibilité de voir les billes rotatives et axe le produit sur la qualité de la performance obtenue.

et axe le produit sur la qualité de la performance obtenue. Figure 4 A gauche, le

Figure 4 A gauche, le Vibro Chenille, Fun Factory

Le Vibro Chenille de Fun Factory quant à lui, apparaît ludique, ses codes formels sont amusants et doux. L'objet tente de séduire un vaste public féminin sur les terrains du plaisir lié à une hygiène sexuelle et non plus uniquement à une masturbation. C’est un objet de détente. Évinçant toute ressemblance marquée avec l'imitation du membre masculin, cet appareil n'apparaît plus comme un membre tronqué, mais bien comme un personnage ou une figurine intègre et autonome. Cette impression d'autonomie est renforcée par l'emploi des piles, l'objet n’est alors quasiment plus perçu comme dépendant de l'univers artificiel auquel il appartient. L'identification du produit au petit animal représenté est plus aisée, elle relie l'objet au monde du vivant auquel nous appartenons. La référence animalière et ludique procure également au produit une aura transgressive tout en restant dans le domaine de l'acceptable grâce à l'humour. L'objet conserve donc l'attrait de la transgression tout en restant dans le domaine du familier. Cette petite figurine animalière apparaît tel un habillage illustratif favorisant la dédramatisation du jouet érotique et le plaçant sur un niveau récréationnel et relationnel. Cela peut sembler paradoxal, mais la figurine favorise sans doute une approche relationnelle à l'objet qui, dans son autonomie, peut devenir un petit être de plaisir à part entière. L'effort de Fun Factory a essentiellement porté sur une redéfinition stylistique du sextoy visant à intégrer un nouveau discours dans le dessin même des produits. La cohérence stylistique entretenue entre les produits, les gammes et leurs environnements a contribué à plus de cohérence entre la sémantique du produit et l'usager. La marque communique également sur les progrès apportés par le design en termes d'ergonomie, de matériaux (introduction du silicone), de techniques et de manipulation. Néanmoins l'évolution la plus visible et la plus marquante pour l'usager est avant toute une stylisation ludique du produit. Pourtant, même si cette stylisation formelle peut apparaître comme le ré-habillage d'un objet technique déjà existant, elle constitue en soi une étape importante destinée à marquer un changement notable dans les pratiques courantes et ses effets vont au-delà d'une stylisation purement décorative. L'encodage esthétique des nouvelles valeurs sémantiques associées aux pratiques du sexe permet de développer une familiarité avec l'objet technique grâce à une valorisation de l'usager face à un produit qui sollicite son sens de l’humour. Les aspects relationnels des pratiques sexuelles, grâce à la figure rassurante de l'animal et à l'autonomie formelle et technique de l'objet déplacent ce modèle relationnel du partenaire vers l’objet, qui devient lui-même un partenaire familier. L’acceptation des appareils à forte valeur technique semble passer par une apparence anthropomorphe ou zoomorphe. La figure familière est alors garante de sympathie tandis que des morphologies plus abstraites véhiculent un sentiment d’angoisse (Mori, 1970).




Par ailleurs, le design apparaît ici comme un outil permettant de faire passer une pratique déclassée dans le champ du familier. Nous pouvons parler de design, car l'effort de redéfinition stylistique est bien motivé par une stratégie globale destinée à optimiser l'entrée en relation entre de nouveaux produits et de nouveaux usagers. À ce stade le design apparaît encore essentiellement consacré à l'encodage de nouvelles valeurs sémantiques dans l'habillage formel du produit destiné à la construction d’une cohérence lisible permettant au produit de se démarquer des anciennes générations de sextoys.

de se démarquer des anciennes générations de sextoys. Figure 5,6 & 7 Modèles Iris(au dessus) et
de se démarquer des anciennes générations de sextoys. Figure 5,6 & 7 Modèles Iris(au dessus) et
de se démarquer des anciennes générations de sextoys. Figure 5,6 & 7 Modèles Iris(au dessus) et

Figure 5,6 & 7 Modèles Iris(au dessus) et Gigi de Lelo

La marque Lelo, enfin, fait partie des nouvelles marques qui proposent des produits spécifiques à la clientèle des love-shops. Elle propose des appareils jouant sur le registre de l’évocation formelle abstraite. Ses produits sont visuellement lisses et clos dans une coque bicolore qui sépare l’interface de commande de l’interface de plaisir. Le lisse, le blanc, l’épuration, la sobriété et l’élégance de ces courbes le positionne à la fois du côté des objets haut de gamme et raffinés. L’épuration lui octroie un mystère symbolique, il semble être un concentré technologique tout en manifestant une simplicité extérieure. Il intègre l’esthétique épurée des téléphones cellulaires tactiles comme l’Iphone, le Corby de Samsung, le Viewty de LG, mais aussi d’un raffinement très féminin, proche de la lingerie féminine de par ces couleurs et sa prestance. Tout comme les téléphones portables, l’Iris fonctionne avec une




batterie rechargeable sur le secteur. Sur le site internet de la marque l’appareil est représenté par des vues en image de synthèse renforçant son lien avec les produits technologiques. Curieusement, la référence au téléphone portable nous ramène encore à un modèle relationnel et récréationnel qui participe à un phénomène de familiarisation avec l’objet technique. Ici l’objet est peut-être plus conçu comme une interface de mise en relation plutôt que comme une entité figurative autonome comme peut l’être le Vibro Chenille. Malgré une morphologie abstraite, les produits de la marque Lelo, sont également exposés sur des fonds suggérant l’univers associé aux produits. Ainsi, les vibromasseurs pour femme, sont-ils présentés sur fond de dentèle chic et sexy, le fond de satin noir souligne le modèle luxe en plaqué or. Cela nous permet de penser que la marque élabore un discours visuel autour de ses produits pour construire une identité lisible. L’épuration formelle des appareils ne suffit donc pas à rendre lisible l’identité du produit. Cette présentation ajoute un ensemble de références à la sensorialité qui complète le discours du produit. Ici, le design apparait comme un vecteur d’organisation et d’intégration de la complexité sémantique au sein du produit et de son environnement de distribution et d’usage. Comme pour le modèle de Fun Factory, l’Iris manifeste une cohérence entre le produit et ses environnements issus d’une stratégie intégrant le design à plusieurs niveaux. Les deux derniers exemples montrent une cohérence sémantique entre l’usage, la technique, l’image et l’environnement du produit, il se construit un discours sémantique sur deux niveaux. Le premier consiste en effet en une stratégie de valorisation du produit qui passe d’abord par l’image et la stylisation du produit, dans le but d’associer le produit à des valeurs positives. La référence à la figure animale ou au téléphone portable semble indiquer une stratégie visant à rendre les vibromasseurs familiers en réduisant, voire en supprimant la barrière existante entre des appareils d’usages courants. La suppression de cette barrière est non seulement garante d’une facilitation de l’usage de ces produits, car ils empruntent des interfaces de commande communs à d’autres appareils électriques, mais elle agit aussi sur une déculpabilisation de l'acte d'achat. Le second niveau sémantique de ces produits, montre les positionnements différents qu’ont choisis les marques. Il désigne des stratégies de familiarisation opérant sur des cibles différentes et révèle un marché lisible ou la complexité peut être lue par les utilisateurs comme une variété d’offres et de possibles. A ce niveau là, le design apparaît comme un vecteur structurant la variété afin de la rendre lisible. Il devient un outil de facilitation de l’usage grâce à l’intégration structurée d'une complexité sémantique assurant la lisibilité du discours de l’objet au détriment parfois de la lisibilité de l'usage. La conception des deux derniers exemples exprime une forte orientation stylistique. Il est clair que cet effort paraît nécessaire pour affirmer la nouvelle rhétorique identitaire des sextoys. Du point de vue de l'analyse, même si les objets sextoys constituent un point d'entrée sur le phénomène étudié, il est difficile de distinguer clairement les niveaux de l'objet, de la pratique (de ses styles), et du marché. L'une des hypothèses interprétatives consiste à affirmer que les configurations repérées sur les objets, notamment au niveau thématique et figuratif, configurations qui peuvent être premièrement perçues comme de simples variations stylistiques, assument en réalité une fonction rhétorique qui s'explique par l'état du marché et les intentions d'en modifier les équilibres de la part des promoteurs des sextoys, principalement des marques.




DRS2010 PROCEEDINGS 4 3 Figure 8 Delight, Fun Factory Nous avons par ailleurs remarqué d’autres produits

Figure 8 Delight, Fun Factory

Nous avons par ailleurs remarqué d’autres produits annonçant une implication plus marquée du design dans la conception de nouveaux usages. Le Delight de Fun Factory ou les masseurs sensuels de Philips proposent des formes aux ergonomies originales, renouvelant la typologie du vibromasseur et suggérant d’autres manières de les utiliser. Nous pourrions y voir alors, un troisième niveau où le design comprend une intégration sémantique beaucoup plus synthétique de l'ergonomie, de l'esthétique et de la technique.


Il est probable que cette nouvelle génération de sextoys ait été rendue possible grâce au travail stylistique que nous avons décrit et qui a rendu lisible le changement de paradigme de ces appareils. L’analyse que nous venons de mener semble montrer plusieurs mouvements de la relation entre design et complexité sémantique. Un premier mouvement de contraction et de synthétisation des tendances sociales émergentes dans l'élaboration d’une stylisation nouvelle. Un second mouvement semble alors rendu possible, celui de la construction d’une diversité structurée et lisible pour l’usager. Dans notre étude nous avons montré un processus de familiarisation grâce au discours visuel de l'objet, or il nous est apparu simultanément une difficulté de lecture de l'usage et des emplois de ces produits. Cela est confirmé par l'organisation des réunions organisées par les magasins de sextoys. Par ailleurs, dans les perspectives de cette recherche, il apparaît essentiel de développer une étude de la sémantique de l'usage. En outre, nous souhaitons évaluer la lisibilité des usages auprès de panel par le biais d'enquêtes de perception. De ce point de vue, les sextoys sont des objets qui engagent le rapport à notre propre intimité, que cette intimité soit partagée ou non. Au-delà d'un remodelage stylistique et sémantique, le design met en scène une cohérence déplaçant ces objets pornographiques vers une dimension sensuelle et féminine. Ce glissement n'est pas sans limiter ces artefacts du sexe à une question technique qui tourne autour de problèmes de dimension, de diamètre ou de vitesse. Au final, plusieurs aspects du design sont évincés dans le cas des sextoys à l’heure actuelle. En se concentrant sur la notion de performance, le sextoy évince l’imaginaire, la place de l’expérience et du développement de scénarii liés au plaisir et aux émotions. Notre étude ne se borne pas à une réflexion d’ordre stylistique, elle dénonce les limites actuelles du marché des sextoys. Nous ne pouvions pas faire l'économie des rapports de complexité entre des niveaux de lecture différents. Il s'agit maintenant de savoir si ces objets pourraient mettre en route une créativité originale de l’usager. Cela nous conduira à interroger les limites de la notion de performance et d'efficacité fonctionnelle qui constituent souvent des objectifs fondamentaux




du projet. Serait-il souhaitable dans le design de sextoys, d'impliquer la contreperformance du produit comme ressort d'un plaisir intégrant la créativité des usagers ? Par ailleurs, un projet de design global pourrait prendre en considération de manière plus vaste les ambiances, les scénarii et les expériences sensorielles liées au plaisir. Cette recherche pointe une difficulté quant à des définitions objectives ou standardisées du plaisir, elle révise les définitions usuelles du design comme recherche optimale et efficace d’une réponse à un besoin.


Bozon, M., (2009). Sociologie de la sexualité. Paris : Armand Colin. Chaumier, S. (2004). L’amour fissionnel, le nouvel art d’aimer. Paris : Fayard. Coulmont, B. (2007). Sex-shops : Une histoire française. Paris : Dilecta. Fontanille, J., Zinna, A., et coll. (2005). Nouveaux actes sémiotiques : les objets du quotidiens. Limoges : Presses Universitaires de Limoges. Lasch, C. (1979). The Culture of narcissism. New York : Warner Books. Le Breton, D. (1999). L'adieu au corps. Paris : Métailié. Lipovetsky, G. (1983). L'ère du vide. Paris : Gallimard. Maines, R. P. (2009). Technologies de l'orgasme : Le vibromasseur, l'«hystérie» et la satisfaction sexuelle des femmes. Paris : Payot. Marmonnier, C. (2008). Godes Story. Paris : Seven. Mori, M., ed.(1970). The uncanny valley. Energy 7, 33-35. Ploton, F. (2004). Sextoys. Paris : Tana éditions. Ropton, M. (2009). Sextoys. Mémoire de Licence Professionnel Design, Bordeaux 3. Weissman, E. (2008). La nouvelle guerre du sexe, l’emprise du libéralisme économique sur notre sexualité. Paris : Stock. Webographie

Author Biography

Claire Azéma, 34 ans, formée à l'Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, elle est agrégée et maître de conférences en arts appliqués à l'Université de Bordeaux 3 depuis 2004. Dernière publication : Les mutations de l'écran lumineux et l'Intervalle-lumière. In textes réunis par Charlotte Beaufort (2009). La Lumière dans l'art depuis 1950. Figures de l'art (17). Pau :

Presses Universitaires de Pau.

Stéphanie Cardoso est Ph. D. (2009) en Arts (Histoires, Théories et Pratiques), spécialité Design. Elle est actuellement chargée de cours à l'Université de Bordeaux 3. Ses travaux de recherche portent sur un corpus technologique hyper complexe dont l’identité est à construire (les robots de compagnie). Elle analyse aussi l'image des villes cosmopolites sous l'angle du design. Dernière publication : Identités plurielles : images du néocosmopolitisme montréalais. In Augustin, J.-P. (2010). Villes québécoises et renouvellement urbain depuis la Révolution tranquille. Bordeaux : MSHA.

Marc Monjou, membre du Centre de Recherches Sémiotiques (CeReS, Limoges), est actuellement A.T.E.R. en Arts appliqués à l'Université Montaigne Bordeaux 3, où il enseigne l'esthétique, l'histoire des arts appliqués et la théorie du projet en design. Ses activités de recherche concernent la sémiotique des objets, le design, la philosophie de la technique et l'esthétique industrielle. Il soutiendra en 2010 une thèse de doctorat, dirigée par J.-F. Bordron (CeReS, Limoges).




Sustainable collaborative services on the digital platform:

Definition and application

Joon Sang Baek, Politecnico di Milano, INDACO, Italy, 1

Ezio Manzini, Politecnico di Milano, INDACO, Italy,

Francesca Rizzo, Politecnico di Milano, INDACO, Italy,


Information communication technologies (ICT) have emerged as an enabling solution that facilitates grassroots social innovations. Among them are collaborative services in which the final users collaborate to provide solutions to their unmet social needs. These alternative solutions aggregate to result in radical innovations towards a sustainable society (Meroni ed., 2006). Examples of collaborative services on the digital platform include Hitchhikers, a service created by hitchhikers to connect people with empty seats in their cars and people in need of a ride, thus allowing them to meet new people and reducing carbon footprint; Vicini Vicini, a service that aims to strengthen social fabric in Rome by helping people to organize parties with neighbors; Peladeiros, a service in Brazil that helps people to organize soccer matches; GROFUN, a service organized by people in Bristol to promote urban gardening, share the produce and dine together.

We introduce the notion of collaborative service and showcase the examples of collaborative services supported by ICT, mainly web-based. The cases studies reveal that collaborative services have a common structural system and that they can be classified into seven categories based on their meta-function. Collaborative services produce two elements – a solution and a social network. Based on theories of social network analysis, we argue that the two elements influence the formation of each other, i.e., a solution generates a social network as a byproduct and the social network in turn become a medium to diffuse innovations and creates opportunities to start new collaborations and that this virtuous cycle is amplified by ICT.

Keywords social innovation; sustainability; service design; information communication technologies (ict); social network.

Social innovation is moving from the margins to the mainstream with the launch of President Obama's new Office of Social Innovation and a new push in Europe from President Barroso to link innovation strategy to social goals (The Young Foundation, 2009). However, this is not because social innovations have suddenly grown in number. What has changed is people’s attitude. They have become more conscious of alternative and sustainable solutions due to the failing system of the current paradigm. At the same time, technologies that can democratize and accelerate innovation have diffused to our everyday life. These two conditions create a favourable condition to diffuse social innovation with an urgent need for designers to participate. One possible role of designers is to facilitate the on-going transition by creating conditions for people to use creativity and innovate at the local scale and that of design researchers is to provide designers with a theoretical ground by understanding the environment in which collaborative services are created, developed and replicated and supporting them with appropriate methodologies.

This research discusses issues on design for social innovation and sustainability which specializes in service design for social innovation at the grassroots level and sustainability. Social innovation is defined as “innovative activities and services that are motivated by the goal of meeting a social need and that are predominantly developed and diffused through organisations whose primary

1 The paper was prepared by the three authors together. Manzini wrote a part of section 3.1 and 3.2 and Rizzo wrote a part of section 3.3 and 3.4. Baek wrote the rest.



purposes are social” (Young Foundation, 2006). Design for social innovation and sustainability is a domain of design that deals with services for people whose social needs are not met and their relation to sustainability. A role of a design researcher in this field is to understand the phenomenon of social innovation at the grassroots level in various contexts, identify its relation to sustainability and to design conditions that empowers people to use their creativity to ideate, implement and disseminate the solutions for their needs as Manzini claims, transition towards sustainability is a social learning process that requires active involvement of social constituents (Manzini in Meroni ed., 2007). How social innovation at the grassroots level contributes to sustainability is not discussed exhaustively here but it can be stated in summary that the radical innovations of local systems, i.e. discontinuities with regard to a given context, that challenge traditional ways of doing things introduce a set of new, very different and intrinsically more sustainable ones and that these micro-transformations become the groundwork for great systemic change (Manzini in Meroni ed., 2007).

With this in background, a series of projects have been conducted to collect the cases of social innovation at the grassroots level around different parts of the world. In 2006, the cases of so- called creative communities were collected in Europe (Meroni ed., 2007). Creative communities are groups of people who creatively solved social problems around them rather than complying with existing solutions that were proven to be ineffective. Similar research was conducted in developing contexts such as China, Brazil and India (Manzini & Jègou, 2007) and finally in Africa (work in progress). Although these cases consist of a wide range of ideas from diverse cultural and technological contexts, they share one thing in common in that they are social services in which the final users collaborate to produce solutions to a wide range of social needs that have failed to be met by existing solutions. For this reason, they are called collaborative services and the people who designed them are called collaborative organizations (Jègou & Manzini, 2008).

Collaborative service is distinguished from other services in that it requires relational qualities as a prerequisite to function. Relational qualities as the expressions of the “genuine dialogue” established between the participants of collaborative service and include trust, intimacy, friendship and a common identity (Cipolla, 2007). Figure 1 is a matrix that illustrates where collaborative service is positioned in relation to other services.

where collaborative service is positioned in relation to other services. Figure 1. Positioning of collaborative services

Figure 1. Positioning of collaborative services


1. Collaborative services on the digital platform


In recent years, peer-to-peer and collaborative production has emerged as a powerful trend in the digital, networked industries. Just to mention a few, Wikipedia, an archive of distributed knowledge; Google and Amazon which provide a peer-to-peer platform for sharing information and trading products; various open-source software projects based on Creative Commons licenses. Exhibiting characteristics of anti-rivalry and inclusiveness (Cooper, 2005), collaborative production in digital world is distinguished from traditional ways of production in the market economy in that it is more democratic in political aspect and more efficient in economical aspect (Benkler, 2006). They are examples of socio-technological innovation that are changing our ways of production and living and show possibilities that technologies, especially ICT, can be used an enabling solution to promote social innovation at the grassroots level.

Collaborative service shares several aspects in common with digital collaborative production. Both of them require collaboration rather than competition, inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness and are based on a platform that is decentralized rather than centralized. They also aim to improve the quality of the commons rather than privatized goods. Digital collaborative production aims to expand the repository of digital commons that are mainly information whereas the latter focuses on improving social commons such as relational qualities and social network. In addition, collaborative service and digital collaborative production can supplement each other when they are combined and produce a synergy effect. Firstly, when digital, networked platform is applied to collaborative service, it can increase the accessibility and replicability of the given service, making it available to people of wider social and economical status. Secondly, it can enhance communication between stakeholders within a service and between similar services, thereby strengthening the social fabric and making a service more resilient. Finally, advanced ICT, collective knowledge and innovative business models in open networked platform can reduce the technological, bureaucratic and economical burden of creating and supplying a service respectively.

As the first step to understand how collaborative organizations use ICT to improve their services, case studies of collaborative services on the digital platform were conducted.

2. Research method and the result

Case studies consist of two stages: in the first stage, 30 cases were selected from different parts of the world and analyzed using so-called a ‘light format’. The aim of the light analysis is to obtain basic information – both qualitative and quantitative - of the cases in order to understand and affirm the phenomenon. In the second stage, 10 cases were selected from the 30 cases for in- depth analysis in order to understand how ICT facilitate the diffusion of collaborative services.

In order to select the cases that satisfy our definition of collaborative service, over 100 cases were reviewed using the following criteria:

1. A service uses ICT to promote itself and enhance communication within community.

2. A service involves collaboration in physical and/or digital spaces.

3. A service is designed and provided by users with an intention to satisfy their unmet social


In addition to these criteria, factors such as the service area, age of service, organizational size, aim and type of the services were taken into consideration to give diversity to the cases. The result is the 30 cases in table 1.



Service area
















Hope institute


South Korea

South Korea


3365 ideas









32250 users

Vicini vicini


Rome, Italy



Not known








400 cities, 51 countries

Green map





Open green








+ 4000 sites






Bristol, UK



10 people

Couch surfing





+ 950000













UK and 12 other countries



















Six digits















740000 users


+ 2500

Mapo dure


South Korea

South Korea





Kent, UK




20 mobs


Aka aki













Not yet













No 10
















































Sistema FBES






RED Open







Health Project











55 users




Zero relativo













Table 1 Case list (data accessed February 26, 2009)

3. Discussion

Despite the diversity in nature and context of the cases, several patterns were identified. Firstly, the cases could be categorized into 7 types according to their meta-function. Secondly, all the collaborative services have a commons structural model and thridly, they produce two essential elements. Finally, ICT contributes to facilitating the production of the two elements.



3.1. A typology of collaborative service on the digital platform.

Each case has a specific function that is performed in a form of a service (e.g. to purchase high- quality agricultural produces directly from the local producers, to exchange used books). These functions can be grouped into what we call meta-goals. Based on these meta-goals, the 30 cases were categorized into 7 types:

Producer/consumer network. In this typology, producers and consumers pursue mutual benefits by establishing a direct network. It is often found in the food industry where producers and consumers create networks to solve problems caused by long supply chains such carbon emission and degeneration of local food industries and to promote critical and responsible consumption.

e.g.) Mapo Dure, a food cooperative in Mapo district of Seoul, South Korea; GAS (Gruppi di Aquisto Solidale), a food purchasing group in Italy; Solidarius and Sistema FBES (Fórum Brasileiro de Economia Solidária) both of which are digital platforms to promote solidarity economy in Brazil.

digital platforms to promote solidarity economy in Brazil. Figure 2. GAS, the solidarity purchasing groups and

Figure 2. GAS, the solidarity purchasin