Last week we visit This happened #11 with a couple of colleagues. This 11th edition of the event was supported by Info.nl. As ever the evening brought a mixture of speakers in the field of interaction design; from an industrial design project to the design of a playground. And from an online music tool to a special concept of a t-shirt store. Unless the 30 degrees some 60 people attended the evening that is always build up in the same schedule of 4 speakers, each talking 10 minutes and discussing 10 minutes with the audience.
The concept of This happened is to share the process of a project, not the end result is key, “to have ideas is easier than to realize them” as the organization put it. I visited all episodes and in the report on the tenth edition I tried to digest some broader theme. Design as curator of an explorative and collaborative context. Something we could also found in this edition.
I did a short report on my personal blog on the four talks. I repeat this here.
First of was Roy Gilsing, the designer and iniator of Grabbit. A handgrip for the iPad. It do free your movements with your tablet, as Ianus shared from his own practice.
Roy did share his journey from first intention to create something by himself free from the demands of a client, to the choices in concepts from pallet style to the current baseball handshoe one. A genuine product designer story.
An interesting part was the experience with Kickstarter. That did not really work out for Grabbit. A charming product alone is not enough, you need to do real promotion.
He also learned the hard practice of an Apple accessory maker. You need to be in sync with the lifecycle of the Apple product to maximize the benefits, as a new version makes the accessory out-of-date. In that sense the hardware business is a lot different from the software.
Second presenter was Elger Blitz of Carve, a design studio specialized in designing playgrounds. He showed a project he designed in The Hague Escamp especially for disabled children. We learned that the disabled are not only the physicially ones, in a way we are all disabled; nobody has the same capacities.
Nice insight was that you make the best products in this area if you master the regulation game. He knows the rules inside out and can use that in the design. As example he designed the wall as climbing wall so that the path on top could keep an open fence.
Above all, the approach of Elger showed a great case in designing for open-ended play as we know it from Kars.
After the break Mattijs Kneppers presented the tooling of Eboman he made. He used his iPad with a Grabbit and performed a presentation style that fits the work of Eboman, scratching pictures and sounds, floating over the canvas.
It was fun to see how the spaghetti in Maximum software could create the product. The presentation took us really into the world of Eboman.
The controls of the mixers differ from the device you use. The suit Eboman uses on stage has not the same freedom as the software version. A prepared set of samples is needed. Advantage is that it makes it possible to involve amateur in the mixing process. The suit limited the number of choices which makes it more usable.
A theme that was clearly visible in the last talk, done by Adam Fletcher of The Hipstery. Out of a personal frustation on the unlimited number of choices we have he models a service around buying carefully handpicked t-shirts. In an entertaining talk, he showed us the way the service works. He mingled some visions on option overload and decission making: less choice delivers better decissions.
In the discussion afterwards some interesting thoughts were discussed. What you buy is not the handpicked t-shirt but the experience. The return sendings are extremely low because it is in the end not important which shirt you receive as long as the experience of ordering is fulfilling. A combination of entertainment in the process and the freedom from chosing stress.
There is however also a kind of contradiction as Elger Blitz showed us. With our regulations for children we create an overprotective world and a next generation that is totally unprepared for life. The same goes for the augmented present knowledge we have, providing us from running into the right amount of friction to learn. Delegating your choice to a service like The Hipstery is in essence the same.
The concept of open-ended play is in that sense not the same as being free to do what you want. That makes it also a real design challenge, how to create enough friction to be able to master your freedom. Something we can discover in all talks.
This way of looking to the services is certainly an inspiration for our own work, how different it may seem sometime. As colleague Bram put it: we create more and more open services that are the start for building new services by themselves. That asks different approaches to make data available for reuse. Just like the open-ended playground. Combined with some non-transparency and non-predictable service experiences like Hipstery new services will mix openness with guided experiences.
All in all the sessions provided some fine inspiration for our work.