Humanities design lab: Understanding and shaping cross-fertilization experiences

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The Humanities Design Lab at the Politecnico di Milano was born with the idea of studying the overlapping between design sciences and humanistic knowledge. Identifying and analyzing past and on-going experiences it explores trans-disciplinary practices to grasp different approaches, develop concrete exchange forms or propose new kinds of mutual cooperation. The work of the HD Lab was inspired by the growing role that humanities research is playing internationally. However, it is also strongly distinguished by the Italian polytechnic tradition that considers "humanities in practice" as a valuable contribution to an open-ended design system. A preliminary grounding research considered several on-going theoretical and practical case-studies and mapped institutions, centers, universities and other international bodies committed to shaping possible models of cooperation between design and the disciplines that study human complexity. From this observation a dual interpretation emerged: the relationship between design and humanities is a two-way route and can be represented by a polar pattern. On one hand, a comparison of knowledge and epistemological models becomes a driver of a trans-disciplinary approach and, on the other, the analytical and generative tools act as activators of new processes that can both promote new paths of cooperation and open research. Moreover this relationship can be either humanities-driven or design-driven. This paper will present the general framework through three levels of discussion: the cultural background that led to the foundation of the laboratory; the results of the grounding research; the exemplification of the HD Lab's approach through its first year of activities. © Common Ground, Elena Formia, Manuela Celi, All Rights Reserved.

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... recognized as a " transformation catalyst " able to create new opportunities and to improve, not only companies, but, more in general, people's ability to cope with change (Borja De Mozota, 2006). Moreover it has recently been recognised, trough some significant experiences (Lego case in Deserti and Rizzo, 2014; Fiat Mio case in Celaschi et al., 2011) that, gathering people's conception of (immediate or far) future, activates new value creation in an affordable grassroots process. ...
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Designers – as futurists – by participating in the building of the future, create new levels of value with the motivation to fulfil the unmet needs and desires of people. Overstepping the private mission, design, such as other creative fields (cinema, literature, art, photography, etc.), creates utopian or dystopian narrations, exploring the dimension of public exhibition, involvement and empowerment. Starting from these premises after a short introduction on the relationship between design and humanities the paper pays special attention to the fictionary role of design. The paper will present the importance of design in the debate about “Future Literacy” introducing the notion of design fiction though a reading of the evolution of the respective theoretical framework. Finally, the authors will analyse the case-study of the designer and artist Karolina Sobecka introducing a reflection on the aesthetics of design fictions and on the value of design in the practice of sharing futures.
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Il libro affronta il tema del contributo del design alla sfida della sostenibilità intesa nella sua accezione più ampia, non solo ambientale ma anche sociale e culturale. Nella varietà dei contributi proposti la complessità delle sfide - dal miglioramento della qualità ambientale di prodotti e processi di aziende e sistemi territoriali d' imprese al design per la cooperazione internazionale con una particolare attenzione al Mediterraneo come scenario cruciale, dal lavoro con imprese sociali alla valorizzazione di piccoli territori fino all'educazione alla sostenibilità, centrale per la definizione di un diverso modello di sviluppo. Progetti di ricerca diversi, per tematiche, interlocutori, tempistica, impegno. PROVE con gli inevitabili limiti di ogni sperimentazione.
Attraverso la raccolta dei contributi del gruppo di ricerca raccolto attorno allo Humanities Design Lab del Politecnico di Milano, il testo propone una riflessione sulla relazione tra design e scienze umane e sociali. L’intento è quello di mettere a confronto - attraverso brevi ma incisivi interventi - portatori di saperi diversi per individuare ambiti tematici, approcci conoscitivi, metodi di confine e interferenza reciproca. La raccolta di saggi mira a estendere ed esemplificare il contributo innovativo delle discipline umanistiche nelle culture di progetto.
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What makes a product iconic? How did IKEA really conquer the home-furnishings market from Sweden to China? Why do design innovators spend more time observing consumers than making new things? Design Anthropology charts the radical turn to ‘the user’ that has transformed our contemporary object culture. Featuring leading design thinkers, Design Anthropology offers a provocative insight into how different groups, from South London urbanites to Australian aborigines, use designed objects to make sense of their everyday lives. As design corporations ‘go native’ they now look to us – our homes, our spiritual worlds and our intimate rituals, for their inspiration. Design Anthropology is a must-have read for everyone in design, creative industries, sociology, anthropology, marketing and cultural studies – and for anyone interested in what is really at stake in our material world. "These timely, thoughtful and well-written essays are essential reading as we explore the changing tasks of design in these new times" John Thackara, Doors of Perception "Alison Clarke's anthology is a must-read for anyone interested in the growing links between design and anthropology. Featuring essays by leading writers working at the intersection of both fields, it is a well-constructed foray into a world where material culture meets design research, where practice and theory intertwine. As designers add social science theory to their box of tricks and theorists seek relevance and impact for their ideas, Design Anthropology is where it all comes together." Jeremy Myerson, Director and Helen Hamlyn Professor of Design, Royal College of Art
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This book brings together a number of the world's leading practitioners and thinkers from the fields of art, architecture and design who all share a common desire to exploit the latest computing technologies in their creative practice. The book reveals, for the first time, the working processes of these major practitioners' work that breaks down traditional creative disciplinary boundaries. Digital Blur provides a rich picture, both visually and textually, of the following leaders in the field - Jason Bruges Studio, Lucy Bullivant, Greyworld, HeHe, Crispin Jones, Owl Project, BigDog Interactive, Bengt Sjolen, Troika, and Moritz Waldemeyer. This book aims to inspire and inform any reader with an interest in design, architecture, art and/or technology and provides essential reading for any practitioner, researcher, educator, and/or other stakeholders involved in the creative arts and industries. The book provides a detailed insight into the techniques of these ten significant creative individuals and how they exploit the latest computing technologies in their work and the impact this will have for creative practice in the future.
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5 have argued persuasively that user studies ultimately construe the human subject of design as a predictable bundle of reflexes and impulses that can be torqued, tuned, and tweaked in order to do the bidding—and the buying—prescribed by a consumer- savvy cabal of designers, engineers, and marketers. The word "user" itself communicates the terrors of addiction as well as the triumphs of functional mastery. In a landscape of diminishing economic and natural resources, the vision of the user promoted by mainstream design research is in dire need of revision. Meanwhile, consumers themselves are striking back, not only in the form of the D.I.Y., fair labor, and green movements, but also by simply withdrawing, out of sheer economic necessity, from the relentless rhythms of getting and spending that dictate our modern "user" lifestyle. In this essay, we link the critique of the user (launched both within design studies and in the larger culture) to the specific methodological aim of bringing together methods from the social sciences—which have organized their vision of the user around the idea of affordances—and the humanities—which have by and large focused on the subjective, cultural, and ideological meanings of material things. Design research has no single definition. It is an interdisciplinary form of inquiry categorized in multiple ways, including: research with a focus on theory, practice, and/or produc- tion, 6 as design epistemology, design praxiology, and design phenom-
Members of the design profession help develop new products and services of many kinds, and they are centrally concerned with satisfying the needs of users of their products. Ethnography appeals to designers because it provides a window onto the ways consumers interact with products in their everyday lives. The paper provides an overview of this extension of applied anthropology to a new domain. It traces how ethnography became known to designers and the transmission of particular research traditions that have shaped the practice of "ethnography" in the design field. Ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, and activity theory have been prominent theoretical influences. Most data-gathering methods are characterized by the use of videotape. As an example, I describe the research practices of one design firm, formerly known as E-Lab LLC, now part of Sapient Corporation.
The map of design research methods can be used as a framework for organizing design research tools and methods and also as a net for capturing and revealing ideas about possible futures. The design research map is defined and described by two intersecting dimensions that is approach and mind-set. Approaches to design research have come from a research-led perspective and from a design-led perspective. The largest and most developed of the areas on the map is the user-centered design zone. The three-large areas of activity in the user-centered zone come from the applied social and behavioral sciences and from engineering. The participatory design zone spreads across both the research-led and design-led approaches on the right side of the map. Participatory design is an approach to design that attempts to actively involve the people who are being served through design in the process to help ensure that the designed product/service meets their needs.
The reflection that accompanies the evidence a candidate presents in the performance-based product is a critical part of the candidate's development. Through reflection the candidate begins the ongoing process of blending the art and science of good teaching practice. Reflection requires thoughtful and careful reporting and analysis of teaching practice, philosophy, and experience. Understanding why an activity or practice was productive or nonproductive in the classroom is a key element in the progression from novice to master teacher. The reflection cycle and the guiding questions included in this packet are designed to assist licensure candidates in the reflection process. They will enable candidates to better understand the reflection process and address the question; "How does this piece of evidence demonstrate my knowledge and skill level in this activity?". The following reflection cycle offers a prescriptive structure while allowing the flexibility necessary for candidates to demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and ability in the unique context of their area and environment. The reflections of the novice teacher are also vital to the assessors charged with the responsibility for judging whether the teacher has met the required level of performance for each standard based activity. Through their responses to the guiding questions, candidates will better be able to put evidence into perspective for the review team members by explaining how the evidence or artifact addresses the standard through the activity.
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