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FROM AR T HIS TORY TO INDUS TRIAL DESIGN HIS TORY
TOWARDS A DESIGN DRI VEN BY MODES T Y AND SHARING
SOCIOLOGIS T S AND DE SIGNERS ARE THE GEOLOGIS TS OF SOCIAL ISSUES AND DE V ELOPMENT
TA B L E O F CO N T E N T
CO - CRE ATION, CROSS - DISCIPLINING AND RESE ARCH IN DESIGN
How is it that a project-based activity resembling more a practice than a science and founded on empirical case studies manages to generate knowledge? How can research in design and research efforts on design conducted by scholars in other disciplines enrich each other? The 5th session of Ateliers de la Recherche en Design ® held in Nantes in June 2008 addressed these key issues. The current issue of CADI, our research journal, settles into the continuity of these reﬂections via three contributions pertaining to the topic of crossdisciplining. Jocelyne Le Boeuf 1, Design Historian, sheds light on her specialty by referencing the major thought movements of which hers has become a part over history. She also addresses the current multidisciplinary research trends, and delves deeper into the role that design history plays not only in understanding our material environment, but also in designer practices. Gilles Rougon, Design Manager at Électricité de France (EDF), elaborates upon design transversality within a company where the primary product is immaterial 2. Finally, Eloi Le Mouël, Sociologist within the design department of the RATP (Paris City Transit Authority), underlines during an interview the similarities and differences between an anthropological approach with regard to “mobility ﬂows” and the design project practice from his standpoint as a researcher in the ﬁeld of social science. This second issue will be the last of its kind for the journal which has, up until now, been diffused in printed format. The pursuit of knowledge sharing will, nonetheless, carry on electronically via the online blog 3. We hope, therefore, to bring together on a more regular basis, through an easy-to-access and interactive format, the thoughts, exchanges and work that nourish our role as active players in design education. Looking forward to your comments online… Frédéric Degouzon Head of Strategy, Research and International Development email@example.com
1 Jocelyne Le Bœuf is also Director of Studies at the Ecole de design Nantes Atlantique and member of CADI’s Editorial committee. 2 Extract of a text ﬁ rst presented at the 2nd session of Ateliers de la Recherche en Design® held in Nancy (France) in May 2007. 3 cadi.lecolededesign.com
FROM AR T HIS TORY TO INDUS TRIAL DESIGN HIS TORY
Jocelyne Le Bœuf, Design Historian
Design Histories up for Debate The 2nd session of Ateliers de la Recherche en Design ® held in Nancy in May 2007 had given me the opportunity to approach the history of of industrial design through an historiographic lens. The ﬁrst part of my contribution was focused on registering this discipline within the ﬁelds of art and architectural history, history of technical culture, and lastly, in the multifaceted territory of material history, while imposing a visit on the relationships between history and social sciences. Many books on the matter came out during the seventies and eighties. Their goal was not to be exhaustive, but rather purposeful by proposing food for thought. Neither were they interested in exposing things on an international level. The material produced in France, however, alluded to research conducted in other countries, and in particular, the English-speaking world. There are pioneering writings whose messages resonate abroad as well as research and debates that come into view at practically the same time in other countries… It is not always easy to decipher where the boundaries lie. The second part draws our attention to the interest of an historical investigation of which the main door 1 could be the design project in its interdisciplinary dimension, from elaboration to follow-through. This article tackles conclusions in the form of questions surrounding historiographic work, but does not go into detail concerning all of the bibliographic references. It ﬁnishes up with a few references to recent articles published in “Journal of Design History and Design Issues”. Just as in any classiﬁ cation attempt, this one is no different in that it, too, has its limits, is debatable and is to be considered as the outline of a work to further pursue. Design history as a branch of art and architectural history The theories, objects and actors in a design history as a branch of art and architectural history have helped shape our world on both the material scale in terms of projects carried out to completion as well as on that concerning representations. They remain permanent sources of reﬂ ection, mediation and questioning regarding the way in which mankind builds its relationship with the world. The two emerging ﬁgures there within are the icon and the creator. The iconic character, referring back to art history and applied arts, favors an aesthetic take of objects in relationship to works of art. It also leads the design historian into a kind of polarization on the author which does not make a lot of sense considering the majority of industrializationbred products.
1 This second part was cut out due to format purposes. It was part of a research about 20 th century French design trend l'esthétique industrielle, ﬁ rst step towards a monography about Jacques Viénot by J. Le Boeuf. www.pur-editions.fr/detail.php?idOuv=1078
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The history of emblematic design objects, presented as works of art, is seldom explained in greater detail with regard to economical aspects, manufacturing contexts and mediations speciﬁ c to industrial design. It fails to realize the diversity of design solutions responsible for building a world which is far from being solely inhabited by icons. In this regard, J.A. Walker (Design History and the History of Design) brings up a relevant question regarding symptomatic silences and dead-ends of an industrial design history subjected to the ideology of “good design” (no history on the design of concentration camps, gas chambers and torture devices, for example): “what would we think of general histories which only described good people and happy events? 2” Design history, contained within the scope of a history of icons, is tied to a romantic vision where the ﬁgure of the charismatic “grand designer” is just as present. The reference to the creator makes one believe in a possible reconciliation between individual creative potential and mass production, praising those companies having what it took to call upon renowned designers. The design historian is also forced to look more closely at his/her role amid the media circus. Design history as a branch of the history of technical culture and industrial history The history of large-scale technical systems, materials and innovations studied in the context of their impact on companies and mindsets provides the industrial design historian with key elements of knowledge. But his/her aim is not to examine the design process, a crucial factor with regard to how form and usage are deﬁned and approached. When the Ministry of Culture’s Cultural Heritage Inventory sets out to implement a national tracking program of industrial heritage sites in the eighties, the study of industrial architecture, plants and manufacturing machinery becomes the object of a growing interest compared to previous years 3. Deindustrialization leads to a movement where cultural landmarks replace manufacturing plants and to an increasing interest in the history of techniques. Historians tackle major syntheses in industrial architecture, putting architecture at the heart of social works, mentalities and economic phenomena 4 . In these works, industrial design is not perceived as such. That said, they tweak the overall historical framework and leave signiﬁcant room for growth. In an initial monograph from 1974 5, Jocelyn de Noblet casts a critical eye on an artistic take on design, and ends up asserting the link between the history of technical culture and design. He creates the Centre de Recherche sur la Culture technique (CRCT) in 1978 in conjunction with directors of studies from large French and foreign companies and universities. For fourteen years, the magazine Culture technique provided the means to diffuse research conducted at the CRCT (http://documents.irevues.inist. fr/handle/2042/28357). In another work, Design : le geste et le compas 6, Jocelyn de Noblet examines different sectors from the viewpoint of social and technological evolution (home, ofﬁ ce space, military design, transportation), and exposes new perspectives in historical research. It also happens to be a time where design questions become more and more prevalent in engineering science literature, and the famous colloquium held in Cerisy, France, entitled Les nouveaux régimes de la conception, langages, théories, métiers exhibits a readiness, willingness and commitment among the areas concerned to dialogue7.
Esthétique Industrielle n° 2, 1951
2 John A. Walker, Design History and the History of Design, Chicago, Pluto Press, 1989, p. 33. 3 Maurice Daumas, L’Archéologie industrielle en France, Paris, Laffont, 1980. Jacques Pinard, Le patrimoine industriel, Paris, PUF, 1985. Jean-Yves Andrieux, Le patrimoine industriel, Paris, PUF, coll. Que sais-je? no. 2657, 1992. Louis Bergeron and Gracia Dorel-Ferré, Le patrimoine industriel, un nouveau territoire, ed. Liris, 1996. 4 Refer to François Loyer, Le siècle de l’industrie, 1789 1914, Paris, Skira, coll. De Architectura, 1983. 5 Jocelyn de Noblet, Design, Paris, Stock-Chêne, 1974. 6 Jocelyn de Noblet, Design: le geste et le compas, Paris, Somogy, 1988. 7 Directed by Armand Hatchuel and Benoît Weil, Les nouveaux régimes de la conception, langages, théories, métiers, Vuibert, coll. Entreprendre, 2009.
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Design history as a branch of history of material and immaterial culture (transversal approaches in history and social sciences) In an article published in Design Issues 8, design historian Victor Margolin states that material culture often gets the short end of the stick with regard to history. He recalls the term "product milieu" that he had originally coined back in 1990 in order to promote research on “the human-made material and immaterial objects, activities, and services; and complex systems or environments that constitute the domain of artiﬁcial.” He also provides a very detailed study on the contemporary historiographic landscape, pleading for a design history bound to other history research ﬁelds. The notions of “world history of design” (Victor Margolin) and “global design history” (Glenn Adamson, Giorgio Riello and Sarah Teasley) have for many years paved the way for research that brings into question the theoretical and epistemic framework of a design history based on Western values. In this vast territory of material culture, the transversal approaches in the different disciplines of history and between history and social sciences uncover very diverse paths that are tricky to summarize: – relationships between the arts and techniques within the framework of a sociological art form, – studies of the object in its historical context on a broad scale (institutional, economical, social): one of the preferred areas is that of domestic arts and crafts which accompanied the entire social thought movement on designrelated progress, – sociological and anthropological approaches of social mechanisms and relationships between man and his material environment. The exploratory ﬁeld leads to new design histories / stories in design where the notion of immaterial culture 9 encompasses numerous writings inspired by semiology and sociology, and most notably where a whole wave of anthropological views on consumption settles in. Different levels of understanding come into contact. The rumors and values conveyed by the media, which have an impact on design production, are also analyzed. In her article, “The Production-Consumption-Mediation Paradigm” 10, Grace Lees Maffei explains that consumer study approaches took on a new scope starting in the nineties in both history and social sciences. The new dimension brought with it work from other French intellects of the time, Jean Baudrillard and various structuralist and post-structuralist studies as well as research stemming from British cultural studies. Grace LeesMaffei’s presentation identiﬁes three leading types of reading at various stages in design history (production-consumption-mediation), where former approaches are not replaced but rather enhanced by those that follow. With regard to the last type (mediation), three aspects are envisioned: the talks and representations driven by the media, and thus, their role as intermediary between production and consumption, the study of media itself, and ﬁnally, the study of products as an expression of mediation. In the book-magazine, MEI (Mediation & Information), issues 30-31 an article by Gavin Melles suggests that design be viewed as a “cultural intermediary” likely to instill values that go beyond strict commercial objectives11. The obvious purpose of all of this research for design history is to question the boundaries of disciplinary ﬁelds and to make readers aware that those boundaries might be blurry.
8 vol. X X V n° 2., Spring 2009, p. 94-105 9 The session entitled, “Immaterial Culture? Things, Artifacts and Meanings” (A AH, Association of Art Historians, Annual Conference - University of Ulster, Belfast, 12-14 April 2007), presented by Deborah Sugg Ryan (Journal of Design History, UK) and Timo de Rijk (Delft University of Technology, Netherlands), highlights a new design history inspired among others by the written works of Pierre Bourdieu (how cultural productions reveal and trigger reproductive mechanisms of social hierarchies) and Daniel Miller (anthropological approach of consumption). It also made reference to the written works of both Judy Attﬁ eld, pioneer in this type of research, and socio-anthropologist, Bruno Latour, (“sociology of the actornetwork theory” which considers social players to be not only human beings, but also objects and organizations, and which examines the social setting as a series of consecutive interactions enforced by heterogeneous players). 10 The Production-Consumption-Mediation Paradigm, Journal of Design History, Special Issue: The Current State of Design History, ed. by Hazel Clark and David Brody, vol. 22, n° 4, 2009, p. 351-376. 11 Objets & Communication, under the supervision of Bernard Darras and Sarah Belkhama, L’Harmattan, MEI, no. 30 -31, Paris, 2009, p. 269.
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The questions raised from the necessary focus on history and social sciences and the equally indispensable dialogue that must arise between them match the interdisciplinary character of any project in industrial design. Whether we side with the programs and actors or with usage and representations, the act of theorizing is expected to discern what will come speciﬁcally from this discipline (industrial design history) so as to better grasp how to sound out other disciplinary ﬁelds. The historian’s second glance 12 If the notion of project is at the very heart of design-related thinking and activities, it would appear to me that this notion offers up a relevant thread for historical research. The extensive work conducted by Jean-Pierre Boutinet13 on what a “project” actually entails in our Western societies, assessed in its multidimensional perspective provides particularly advantageous subject matter wherein to try out our methods and tools. The consequences that our design actions have on the environment coupled with innovation-induced economic and social issues put design in contradictory territory. A look back in time putting into perspective the forces at work and the role of different actors could stimulate new thought on current practices. Which education14, culture, design philosophy (founding theories15, accompanying ones, captivating speech patterns16 ) were inﬂuential? In what vision of humanity is the project embedded? At a certain point, what kinds of echoes are followed by “accompanying” speeches concerning the practice of design? The philosopher Paul Ricoeur, alluded to “transhistorical invariants” to express that “… history is not the only thing separating us from the past (strangeness of history) …” but that “… it is also what we are going through, […] what brings us closer to what history seems to be taking away.”17 In addition, there is this proposal of a history linked to current research and practices18 shedding light on the complexity of situations, their diversity and responsibility issues that we would like to see emerge.
12 Expression borrowed from Edgar Morin who talks about the epistemic viewpoint that stresses the importance of the present in the reconstruction of the past, Relier les connaissances, le déﬁ du XXe siècle, specially-designed days hosted by Edgar Morin, 16 -24 March 1998, Paris, ed. Du Seuil, 1999, p. 351. 13 Jean-Pierre Boutinet, Anthropologie du projet, PUF, coll. Psychologie d’aujourd’hui, 1st edition 1990. This work has been edited many times. See also Ed Quadrige, 2005. Jean-Pierre Boutinet, Grammaire des conduites à projet, Formation et pratiques professionnelles, PUF, 2009. 14 Alain Findeli’s book, Le Bauhaus de Chicago, l’œuvre pédagogique de Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Les éditions du Septentrion, Québec, (Klincksieck for the European broadcast), 1995, as expressed by Franck Popper in his preface, this is a ﬁ ne example of putting into context “the problems between design and the technology of our generation as well as that of the instruction of future artists and designers.” 15 Refer to the conference text, L’Éclipse de l’objet dans les théories du design, Alain Findeli and Rabah Bousbaci, topic proposed at the 6th international colloquium and biennial of the Académie européenne de design (European Academy of design, EAD), Bremen, March 2005, on the theme of Design-Système-Évolution. 16 We refer here to the very practical and relevant analysis proposed by Anne Cauquelin in Les Théories de l’art, Paris, PUF, (1998 ) 1999. 17 Paul Ricoeur, Le passé avait un futur, Relier les connaissances, le déﬁ du X Xe siècle, specially-designed days hosted by Edgar Morin, 16 -24 Marchmars 1998, Paris, ed. Du Seuil, 1999, p. 297-304. 18 Sarah A. Lichtman provides an interesting perspective on the ties between history and professional application through teaching, Reconsidering the History of Design Survey, Journal of Design History (special issue, The Current State of Design History, edited by Hazel Clark and David Brody, volume 22, n° 4, 2009, p. 341-350.
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BIOGR APH Y
Jocelyne Le Bœuf is Director of Studies at L'École de design Nantes Atlantique. She teaches art history and design. She has published several texts about design and runs a blog dedicated to design history: http://designethistoires.lecolededesign.com/ Publications – Le Bœuf, Jocelyne, Le design. In: 1950-2000 – Arts contemporains (ed. Camille Saint-Jacques), Paris: Autrement & SCÉRÉN-CNDP, 2002. – Le Bœuf, Jocelyne, Jacques Viénot (1893-1959), pionnier de l’esthétique industrielle en France. Rennes: PUR, 2006, coll. Art&Société. – Le Bœuf, Jocelyne, J. Jacques Viénot and the "Esthétique industrielle" in France (1920-1960). Design Issues, Winter 2006, 22.1, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006, p. 46-64.
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TOWARDS A DESIGN DRIVEN BY MODES T Y AND SHARING
Gilles Rougon, Design Manager, EDF R&D
What is about to follow is the result of ten years in design management at the heart of EDF’s Research & Development division… This article takes into consideration the confrontation between the teaching of an everyday practice and thoughts on design’s role in the workplace. Five design qualities… The public tends to recall but one phase in the design process, and that is its ability to formalize, very tempting for many due to its visibility. This, equally, is the case for many companies, which call upon the profession once they have reached the end of their concept phases. Beneath the visible part, though, lie four other value-added qualities for both the user and company: 1 constructive criticism that a designer uses to “bounce back” positively from feedback shared by various project players, 2 sound conviction, allowing to objectively back the creative process during each phase, 3 ability to summarize through visuals (information, complex systems, etc.), 4 mediation triggered by a design project often subjected to diverging issues and limitations. Each of these ﬁve qualities appears in other professions which relate them, as in the case of design, to innovation. . . But it is their combined presence in design that makes this transversal industry a real tool for change. A Few Words about Exploratory Design We will insert here an hypothesis that “upstream design” encompasses studies in exploratory design, advanced design (ahead of the competition) and communication of new concepts (internal and external to the company). In numerous sectors, companies propose product/service concepts with various objectives in mind. . . Since EDF is not a manufacturer of electric appliances, EDF R&D Design had to rapidly determine and put in place its exploratory design process. As shown in ﬁgure 1, exploratory design bridges the gap between the art world, that of ”liberal objects” (free from order and often critical) and the market that is industry-fed with “utilitarian objects.” This exploratory design process takes root in creative thinking and aims to come up with new “life systems”1 via three types of deliverables: 1 The question object can have a lasting impact on the mode of contact between the company and its customers. It goes in search of fruit-bearing
Fig. 1: EDF Design's Exploratory Design Process
FREE OBJECT QUESTION OBJECT WAY OBJECT PREOBJECT
ART CREATION FIELD
1 “Life systems”: expression borrowed from Elsa Frances; Director of the Cité du Design, Saint-Etienne, France.
endings for the various parts and brings about collective exchange by widely diffusing these scenarios. 2 The way object provides relevant solutions for the customer and those economically lucrative for the company, beginning with a well-assessed issue, a question object or other. 3 The pre-object, a true portal to innovation, aims to favor the commercial success of the prospective offer. It is not about a pre-series prototype. A study in exploratory design will not necessarily go through the three types of deliverables to the degree where their roles are different… May it also be noted that this exploratory design process implicitly encourages a policy of work- and/or result-sharing both in-house and externally. EDF R&D Design participates in myriad short workshops 2 in addition to longer exploratory-oriented programs 3. Design, modesty and sharing? Industrial design has several paths available, some leading to “celebrity status” or extreme communication, others to chosen anonymity. By applying its ﬁve qualities to a prospective multi-player creative initiative, design contributes to: – encouraging the sustainability of our companies regardless of whether it has to do with the environment, ethics or the economy, – generating exploratory visions related to numerous players, in-house and outside the company, – ensuring prospect transparency to the public and to the majority of company players. Through this exploratory practice, industrial design invites us to reﬂect humbly upon the notion of co-creation. We are not only interested in furthering co-creation and open source processes arising from the technology advances of Web 2.0… If the latter offers technological solutions allowing an individual (end-user, customer or not) to be associated with how a company puts together an offer, each can reﬂect on the driving force behind co-creation: is it the internet user, the company… or the tool? We still have in mind that not so long ago, IT modelization tools (2D, 3D) sometimes prevailed in the designers' minds over ideas or creativity, which was very detrimental to the variety, depth and relevance of the concepts thus thought up. Studies in exploratory design provide an environment for sharing information, competencies and experiences. . . They draw us in by addressing our ability to invent an age of industrial co-creation favored by recourse to a universal language: drawing (sketches, storyboard, animation, 3D, etc.). . . Thanks to its ﬁve qualities, design can play a part there amid an ever-increasingly complex world of service engineering with diverse economic and non-economic players. Unfortunately exploratory design is often hindered: when one has to confront cultural difﬁculties in the workplace, among economic players, or to reinvent the rules of industrial property, or even to overcome temporal and economic slowdowns... But should we refrain from undertaking any
2 Example: Involvement in CREDO (Cooperation in Research and Education for Design Options), organized by L'École de design Nantes Atlantique - Recto/ Verso, “Les lumières de la Cité idéale”, 19 through 26 April 2008. 3 Joint research program between EDF R&D and the Cité du Design in Saint-Etienne (France), initiated in November 2006.
project just because we are faced with difﬁ culty? With its ﬁve assets and creative projection in hand, design continually reinvents our life spaces. Using the human factor as a springboard, it helps foster innovation and cross-disciplining by opening up possibilities between industrial activities and forging new partnerships among customers, companies and institutions. As if, in the end, economic competition could lead us but to… cooperation!
BIOGR APH Y
With an undergraduate multidisciplinary degree from Centrale Lille (French engineering school) followed by post-graduate studies in Electrical Engineering (DEA-USTL) and Industrial Design (DESS-UTC), Gilles Rougon ﬁ rst started out with Fichet-Bauche where he redesigned a compact ﬁreproof wardrobe. In 1999, he joined EDF’s Research & Development division with a primary focus on “sustainable design.” G. Rougon today heads up the Integrated Design team for EDF’s R&D division, responsible for conducting exploratory design studies and accompanying the company’s technological developments. He is involved with the launch of EDF’s Sustainable Design Challenge (http://research.edf.com/research-and-innovation-44204.html). Based on his experience, G. Rougon considers design as a strategic asset for companies who use information as a raw material. Publications – G. Rougon, EDF et le design exploratoire, in: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 24 May 2007. – G. Rougon, Design exploratoire, in: Le cercle Design et Marque, ANVIE, host: B. Heilbrun, 7 November 2007. – G. Rougon, Design soutenable et énergie, in: Colloque Écodesign, Centre du Design Rhône Alpes, 16 November 2007. – G. Rougon, Design: donner à voir des futurs, in: Les tables rondes du futur, La Fabrique du Futur, 15 January 2008. http://www.lafabriquedufutur.org/ TablesRondesduFuturDesign.html – G. Rougon, Écologie matérielle: du darwinisme des objets, in: Cycle de conférences Conﬂuences des savoirs Le XXIe siècle, le siècle du végétal?, ENS Lyon, 1 April 2008. www.museedesconﬂuences.fr. – G. Rougon, Light is more: l’homme et l’environnement, moteurs d’innovation d’usage et technologique, Design Développement v5.0, L'École de design Nantes Atlantique, 10 December 2009.
SOCIOLOGIS TS AND DESIGNERS ARE THE GEOLOGIS TS OF SOCIAL ISSUES AND DE VELOPMENT
An interview with Éloi Le Mouêl, Sociologist, RATP
Cadi: Eloi Le Mouël, you joined the Design Management team of the RATP (French public transport company) led by Y. Kaminagai in 2006 as Sociology Researcher and Project Manager in cultural engineering and design management. What does your job entail? With whom speciﬁ cally have you worked? This particular position gives rise to a triple interaction based on permanent knowledge transfer. Firstly, cultural engineering could almost be deﬁned as prospective design: designing from start to ﬁnish one-of-a-kind train stations which serve as testing grounds for innovative materials. […] Next, design processes are incorporated into these prospective studies. Each major project is subject to RFPs (requests for proposals), rigorously laid-out speciﬁcations and rough drafts, which are then reviewed not only by artistic commissions, naturally, but also technically-savvy ones (feasibility, safety procedures speciﬁc to public transport, maintenance, etc.), a rarity in the ﬁeld. Lastly, I decided to put the current “bridges” connecting sociological research and design to the test in the everyday. Sociology, and most likely that of the Chicago-bred school of thought, is characterized by an obligation to act and be acted upon by one's research ﬁeld. Being physically “tangled up in one’s environment” is an indispensable antecedent to enabling oneself to resurface from such a situation and, in turn, examine it closely. As perceived by many designers, it relates to a sociology of action, “in the being and in the doing”, which aims to “identify big issues in small situations” (I. Joseph) as well as enrich the notion of landscape in order to obtain ever-evolving “usage-infused landscapes” (J.P. Thibaud), landscapes deﬁned by users in motion. Industrial design, however, intended to act upon spaces utilized daily by hundreds of thousands of travelers, is clearly “user-oriented.” It calls for a certain amount of investigation, even if a little, during the project management process. The investigation time is an integral part of risk management for its involvement in the early stages ensures that speciﬁcations formulate the right questions prior to seeking the right answers. In parallel, the researcher can no longer remain in observation mode, and is thrust directly into the action. […] Cadi: The project timeframe is fairly straightforward even if analysis is present during each phase. Yes. We align ourselves accordingly, and adhere to the given timeframe of a project. I will attempt to clarify the pre-project phase. The work involved with preparing the functional speciﬁcations or design document could be viewed as the ideal meeting point with the sketch, preliminary or detailed design phases acting as the hand-over. […] It’s a subtle game. Design management and sociology methodologies can interact on many levels. More often than not, large corporations have a tendency to entrust their marketing or public relations departments with market studies, consumer research and needs analyses. In my opinion, sociologists and
designers have alternative answers to give, not better, but without a doubt, different and complimentary. They are, in a way, the “geologists” of both social issues and development: geologists set out to understand the lay of the land around them as well as the multitude of reasons surrounding its formation and its evolution. Sociologists and designers are constantly seeking to understand the world, the city, the street, the place and the component which appear before them; their nature, their functionality, their capacity for improvement. Cadi: Here you're talking about action-based research linked with a context and acting upon real surroundings… Absolutely. Designers are fortunate to be able to transform into reality the efforts put forth by the RATP in order to optimize both the quality perceived and experienced by those in the heart of its spaces. The subway system accommodates 1.5 billion individuals each year (versus 1 billion in the eighties for nearly equivalent spaces), therefore, the stakes are high and the challenge an imposing one when it comes to producing accessible, reliable and accommodating spaces. In light of this somewhat slippery ground, it goes without saying that the viewpoints of both sociologists and designers regarding functional and well-founded space planning are paramount. Cadi: Given the size of the equipment coupled with an element of strategic dimension, there is actually little room for mistakes. Yes, and at the same time, what is wonderful about it is that we do make mistakes every single day! It is, no doubt, the sociologist speaking here. Ultimately, I would say that we can never truly predict how travelers will “use and act in” a given space. Beyond a quantitative trafﬁc ﬂow study, we are continually caught off-guard by innovative, unexpected and mindboggling behavior patterns. […] By incorporating this complexity into the speciﬁcations, we shift our approach to no longer setting out to repair, but rather sensing, anticipating and designing spaces that are perpetually in motion and will still be in service ﬁ fty years from now. […] Cadi: What is the difference between design and sociology? The main difference between sociology and design lies in their end result: the design ﬁeld is less directly interested in what makes a society, less political and oriented more towards a purpose. It has, in ﬁne, more to do with knowing how to design better in order to live better, or even sell better. Design could best be described as being at the hub of three ﬁelds: pragmatic social philosophy and human sciences (understanding real events in action), engineering (understanding the logics of functional design engineering, mechanics, etc.) and marketing (understanding the needs, value and commercial aspect). It could just be the missing link between those areas which continue to ignore each other today, […] reconciling usage, functionality and sensitivity.
BIOGR APH Y
Eloi Le Mouël holds a PhD in sociology attained at the University of Nanterre Paris Ouest (France). He specializes in urban sociology. Currently Project Manager in the Design and Space Identity department of the RATP led by Yo Kaminagai, he conducted his research, ﬁrst under the direction of Isaac Joseph followed by Alain Milon, on the challenges of culture and design in public transport spaces. Author of various articles and co-author of numerous books on the topic, he has since broadened his research scope alongside Alain Milon by taking a closer look, using culture and design, at the relationship among transport, urban and public spaces. Conscious of the need to complement his work experience with his research and vice versa, he recognizes not only in his involvement at symposiums and conferences, but equally in his Master’s program in urbanism, architecture and artistic and cultural action, the opportunity to intersect these two similar, yet distinct skill sets.
The “CADI” research journals are published by L’École de design Nantes Atlantique. Director of publication: Christian Guellerin Editorial board: Frédéric Degouzon, Jocelyne Le Bœuf Translation: Krista Schmidtke Proofreading & publisher desk: Morgane Saysana Graphic design: Audrey Templier, Yves Mestrallet, éditions MeMo Subscriptions & distribution: Judite Galharda Marais Contributors to this issue: Jocelyne Le Bœuf, Gilles Rougon, Éloi Le Mouël. Any part of this issue may be reproduced under conditions speciﬁ ed in the Creative Commons license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/fr/ Write to CADI: firstname.lastname@example.org CADI issue # 2, February 2011. ISSN 1962-3593. www.lecolededesign.com Member of the academic cluster PRES L'Université Nantes Angers Le Mans
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