Goals as a Designer

Inspired by the Desmet and Hekkert reading, I decided to define three goals that pertain to the three types of product experience.

On an aesthetic level, my goal is to find productive new relationships through unconventional pairings.

On a symbolic level, my goal is to question and redefine the significance of everyday objects.

On an emotional level, my goal is to create experiences that make people happy.

The image I chose features a chapel designed by the architecture firm S.M.A.O. It sits boldly in the shrubby hills of Almadén, Spain, and perfectly embodies my three goals as a designer. Aesthetically, the project surprises and pleases visitors in the way it embraces seemingly contrasting elements – earth and concrete, natural and artificial, light and dark, real and surreal. Symbolically, the project takes a commonplace typology, the chapel, and redefines it as a mysterious new object. Emotionally, the project merges its aesthetic and symbolic qualities to create an awe-inspiring, reflective journey for religious observers.

Design Considerations Thus Far

Desmet and Hekkert describe three types of product experience – aesthetic pleasure, attribution of meaning, and emotional response. For each assignment, I considered how much time I spent thinking about these three elements and recorded the results on a ternary plot.* What I found was an abundance of aesthetic considerations, and a suspicious lack of concern for the symbolic and the emotional. Part of this result is due to the nature of the first few assignments, part is due to my interest in materiality, and part is due to inexperience. As I continue through this course, I hope to give equal weight to all three factors. Below are brief explanations of my work so far, and how it relates to the product-experience framework, the human-product framework, and my three goals as a designer.

1   Dishsoap Bottle – By far the most symbolically-driven, the dishsoap bottle WIG is in line with my second design goal, to “question and redefine the significance of everyday objects.” I mention some aesthetic elements and usability, but do not delve in to the ultimate emotional response it evokes.

2   Stanley Flask – My comparison of the old and new Stanley camping flask involved quite a bit of discussion about the usefulness of the two products. I imagined customers weighing the benefit of the new flask with the aesthetic appeal and symbolic meaning of the old flask. While practicality and instrumental interaction might favor the new flask, aesthetics, symbolism, non-instrumental interaction, and non-physical interaction favors the old flask.

3   Challenge 0.0 – The color story assignment necessitated a singular focus on aesthetic appeal, and had no literal applicability. It is thus one of the lowest on the emotional-consideration spectrum.

4   Challenge 0.5 – We were asked for this assignment to improve a Skymall product using sensory advertising. I thus thought mostly about the appearance, smell, sound, and touch for my product development. I relied a little on recognizable symbols of technology, such as the glowing ‘on’ button. If I were to do this project again, I would have appealed to the practical side of consumers by presenting its cost and long-term benefits.

5   Challenge 1.0 – The Bramble was designed to be an immersive experience, and focused primarily on the aesthetic. Kiara and I thought about the warmth, light, smells, and sounds of the greenhouse. Symbolically, these elements would evoke in different users different associations. By placing The Bramble somewhere cold, we hoped that users would associate the greenhouse with a tropical paradise. Most of our emphasis was on instrumental interaction, but there was certainly room to think about non-instrumental and non-physical interactions. For example, how users would interact with the environmental when they were at the bar and not on the ropes course, or how they would imagine the experience from afar.

6   Delirious Frites – This project relates very well to my three goals as a designer. It has an unexpected mix of materials, makes passersby reconsider their everyday environment, and makes people happy. It is mostly as aesthetic experience, with some positive associations evoked by the pool noodles.  

7   Flavour Conductor – Like Delirious Frites, the Flavour Conductor fits well with my three goals. It pairs several sensory elements, inspires people to reflect on the subtleties of a common drink, and delights both participants and witnesses. The experience is primarily aesthetic, with the symbolic drama of the church organ.

8   Challenge 2.0 – Wahoo is perhaps the most balanced of my projects thus far. Peregrine and I considered the aesthetic appeal of our storyboards, took advantage of associations people have with technology, and designed our proposal to emotionally appeal to a wide audience. As my goals might suggest, I am more interested in creating products and spaces than working in entertainment. This project, however, did let me explore new applications for my second and third goal. I wanted viewers to question their assumptions about middle-aged women and to be delighted by the show.

9   Nikeames – This post is a direct result of my interest in material cross-over. It is aesthetically appealing for its smooth wood paneling, and symbolically appealing for its references to a classic and beautiful design. I would not actually want to own these, so emotional evaluation was not of primary concern.  

The plot I created is admittedly an oversimplification of a complex, layered subject. But despite its shortcomings, it has assisted me in identifying the design goals I favor and the design goals I need to further develop.