TOTAL EXPERIENCE explores designing for experience: its theory, its practice, and how designing for experiences affects us socially and in our personal lives.Bob Jacobson
is fascinated by the experience of experience. A planner and technologist, Bob has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Design from UCLA. He's been a policy researcher, technology CEO, science writer, and consultant. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied cellular telephony's impacts on transborder communities in the Nordic Arctic Circle. Bob edited Information Design
(MIT Press 2000) and is now writing a book on the theory and practice of creating edifying, transformative experiences.
| Contact Bob
says, "Understanding human behavior (economics), optimizing interactions (design) and facilitating conversations (markets), are the means to achieve strategic differentiation. This is the focus of our discipline. It is not a 'nice to have'‚ and is not, like documentation once was, an afterthought. It is the means by which to start a strategic discussion and the means by which to drive a tactical initiative. All design should be evidence-based."
| Contact Paula
CALENDAR OF EXPERIENCE DESIGN EVENTS
(Courtesy of Mark Vanderbeeken
, Experientia SpA, Torino)
Experience Design Websites
Core 77 Website & Forum
InfoD: Understsanding by Design
The Wayfinding Place
L-ARCH (Landscape Architecture Mailing List)
DUX 2007 Conference
Enmeshed, Digital Arts & New Media
Ludology (Game Playing Theory)
Captology, Persuasive Computing
Space and Culture
Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces
timet (acoustical design)
Steve Portigal, Ethnographer
Jane McGonigal's Avant Game
Ted Wells' living : simple
Experience Design Blogs
Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
Experience Designer Network (Brian Alger)
SmartSpace: Annotated Environments (Scott Smith)
Doors of Perception (John Thackara)
Karl Long's Experience Curve
Work•Play•Experience (Adam Lawrence)
The David Report (David Carlson)
Design & Emotion (Marco van Hout)
Museum 2.0 (Nina Simon)
B J Fogg
Lorenzo Brusci (acoustics)
Cool Town Studios
MIT Culture Convergence Consortium
Luke Wroblewski, Functioning Form|Interface Design
Putting People First (Paul Vanderbeeken/Experientia
Laws of Simplicity (John Maeda)
Challis Hodge's UX Blog
Anne Galloways's Purse Lips Square Jaw
Bruno Giussani's Lunch over IP
Jane McGonigal's Avant-Game
The Future of Work
Experience Design Podcasts
Ted Wells' living : simple Podcast
Design Matters Podcast, Debbie Millman
Icon-o-Cast Podcast, Lunar Design
Experience Design Firms and ED-Oriented Manufacturers
Barry Howard Limited
LRA Worldwide, Inc.
BRC Imagination Arts
Cooper Interactive Design
Strategic Horizons LLC (Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore)
Cheskin Fresh Perspectives
Education and Advocacy
Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University (UK)
Center for Design Research, Stanford University
International Institute of Information Design (IIID)
Design Management Institute
Interaction Institute IVREA
Design Research Institute (UK)
UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Design Research
History of Consciousness, UCSC
Design News Magazine
Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD)
Design Museum London
Center for Sustainable Design
Horizon Zero, Digital Arts+Culture in Canada
Design Council UK
Total Experience on Technorati
November 29, 2004
The New York Times Magazine's special "Design 2004" issue (11/28/04) raises profound questions about experience design and how good is too good.
This issue is dedicated to design for children. A dozen articles describe one exciting experience design project after another...but connecting all the dots, the reader is left with the impression that a child's life is no longer his or her own. So intensely is daily experience designed, from marketing to prams to playground sets and lunch boxes -- even a child's ability to play sports!! What's left to discover?
The Times' redoubtable design writer, Ann Hulbert, describes the especially poignant condition of designed-for teens, who are already in the throes of trying to understand what about their world and themselves is genuine and what's not.
Fortunately, kids are resilient and inventive: they'll find the interstices where design leaves off and serendipity is in order. But adults for the most part aren't so creative. We can muse about the condition of our children and emerging adults, but what about us? There are no design ombudsmen to advocate for and defend adult victims of over-design, the pernicious effects of which one sees all too often as fads and collective bad judgment.
For example, the recent US presidential election, whichever side you were on, was a massive case of over-design, neglecting the authentic needs of real Americans as expressed through grassroots organizations largely neglected by the established party bureaucracies. Experience designers (marketers, TV producers, pollsters, guerrilla political activists, the 527-funded media developers) ran rampant. Can anyone say the results were good? That America stands stronger and more united as a result? Hardly.
If our fundamental machinery for governance can be so misused, what about lesser social processes: fashion, home-design, social infrastructure, education, self-imagery? Championing experience design doesn't relieve one of the ethical charge to see its power used wisely. Maybe one of the reasons why experience design hasn't been clearly delineated is the freedom that invisibility gives its practitioners to not worry much about ethical canons. That there are no canons of ethical experience design screams with a loud silence.
Images: Oregon State U. (children), Clay Towne (cartoon), MSNBC (politicos)
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November 24, 2004
From the LARCH-L Mailing List:
Date: Monday, 22 November 2004
From: Tom Turner
I've wanted to write a landscape architecture manifesto for years, but caution held me back. Recent posts on this forum have encouraged me now to take a deep breath and extend my neck in a vulnerable manner. Your chops and cuts are cordially invited....
MANIFESTO FOR AN UNBLINKERED LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, by Tom Turner*
1. We believe landscape architecture to be the most comprehensive of the arts. Its theory and history are continuous from ancient to modern times, with Senenmut, Vitruvius, Bramante, Babur, Le N-tre, Brown, Repton, Meason, Olmsted, Jellicoe, and McHarg among its leaders.
2. Lanship, defined as the condition of friendship between people and places, is our goal.
3. The six grand compositional elements of designed landscape are: landform,
water, plants, climate, buildings, and paving (or "horizontal and vertical structures").
4. As an art, the practice of landscape architecture rests on the "imitation
of nature" (mimesis) in the classical (neo-Neoplatonic) sense of representing visual ideas about the nature of the world.
5. Landscape design does best when preceded by excellent landscape planning and sustained by able stewards. It's therefore necessary to involve clients, communities, and other professionals in the planning, design, and maintenance of projects which aim to create lanship.
"Landscape architects of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your
* For a set of references relating to the above clauses, please see my Manifesto webpage
-- Tom Turner, University of Greenwich
Image: University of Arkansas
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November 22, 2004
From Pabini Gabriel-Petit (email@example.com), IxDG Face-to-Face Co-Coordinator:
IxDG, the AIGA Center for Brand Experience, AIGA-ED, and BayDUX are co-sponsoring an event on December 8:
The Future of Digital Product Design
Dirk Knemeyer will speak about the present and future of digital product design. Following Dirk's presentation, professionals working in various aspects of digital product design will participate in what should be a lively panel discussion on this topic. In addition to Dirk Knemeyer,panelists include Neil Day, Pabini Gabriel-Petit, James Leftwich, and Luke Wroblewski. Frank Ramirez will moderate the discussion.
Every attendee will receive a free copy of the newly published book, The Dictionary of Brand, from the AIGA Center for Brand Experience.
For further details, including time and place, please go to the BayDUX website.
If you'll be in the San Francisco Bay Area on December 8, we hope to see you there.
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Bruce Mau, founder of Toronto's Bruce Mau Design, is a man with a mission: to encourage design sensibility and practice -- holistic, vernacular, personal, collective -- as a means to making our world a lot better.
Mau's recent presentation at PopTech, a trendy conference in New England, describes the groundbreaking "Massive Change" exhibition he recently mounted with international support and participation, a clear manifesto for design in the service of practical social change. It's totally persuasive, unlike the many design declarations that have gone before, because it's backed up by deed and example. I found Mau's soft-spoken, storytelling delivery irresistible.
An online recording of Bruce Mau's talk at PopTech is available for streaming or downloading at IT Conversations.
Image: Metropolis (from a feature on Mau)
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November 21, 2004
I'm intrigued by Nissan's new ad campaign for Pathfinder. The product itself will let you "tell better stories" because the product is an experience, an experience that can be shared. I'm not sure if a manufacturer has come right out and said that so directly before.
And yet, the whole campaign has generated little buzz. They are playing it pretty quietly, as opposed to a "can you hear me now" kind of slogan.
Thoughts or comments, anyone? What do you make of this?
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November 17, 2004
Last weekend we visisted Cornerstone Festival of Gardens in Sonoma (part of the wine country, just north of San Francisco). For an admission charge of $9.00, visitors can explore a fascinating range of garden/art exhibit/environment/installations created by landscape architects, design firms, artists, and more.
It's not quite like visiting purty gardens somewhere, nor walking through a gallery or a museum. The installations engage many of the senses in some interesting and powerful ways.
"Break out" is a maze of screen doors in a "room" of hay bales, while Johnny Cash music plays on several speakers (out of sync) - you get the slamming screen doors, tinny music and smell of hay.
"The Lullalby Garden" looks like sand dunes in the distance, playing an interesting game of scale, and as you take your shoes off and stroll on the small hills (covered in many mats of plastic fiber woven by Vietnamese villagers) you may feel as a giant. The visual expectation of texture and scale is confounded by the experience, and the detailed story of handicrafts from far-off lands are jumbled together to create a whole new story.
"Daisy Border" is simply a series of fields of blowing flower pinwheels.
"Rise" is a corrugated metal sewage tube that separates two zones with contrasting foliage on either side, and as you walk through the tube you experience the world you left behind, and the world ahead of you through the portal of the end of the tube, while sound folds in around you.
"Changing Rooms" is a winding path to a curtain covered round space. Along the way are stations where you can use a Sharpie to write a wish on a translucent disc, but it's not until you enter the inner "room" that you understand what the wishes are for - a changing scuplture built from the words and wishes of visitors.
"Earth Walk" is an incredibly simple concept - a wedge cut into the ground, creating two ramps on either side on which you can descend about 8 feet below ground level. Surrounded by haybales, you feel even deeper. As you walk down the ramp the environmental sound gradually recedes until you feel a moist hush. At the bottom, then is a contemplative water garden.
"Eucalyptus Soliloquy" takes tree leaves and attaches them with various densities to metal mesh walls, creating different spaces that let pass through in different ways, with the visual texture of the drying leaves behind mesh adding another layer.
"A Small Tribute to Migrant Workers" tells a story in literal and symbolic ways - one part of the display dangles printed profiles of immigrants who have come to the US to work, their financial situation, their history, their families and more, putting faces and names to a complex social issue. Elsewhere in the garden you can do some gardening, tending to plants with tools provideded, or briefly recreate a symbolic border crossing across shards of broken plant pots.
A Small Tribute to Migrant Workers
"Blue Tree" is the most iconic of the Cornerstone Gardens - a (dying?) tree is completed covered with plastic blue ornaments - the effect is fantastic, your eye sees a real tree, but almost none of the texture of a real tree is visible, so your brain questions the legitimacy of what you're seeing. A range of perspectives gives many different takes on the tree, from being in a surrealistic painting to playing with a giant molecular modelling kit.
It's worth checking out if you are in the area. These are all sensory experiences, and words/photos (click to enlarge, by the way) certainly don't do it justice.
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November 16, 2004
(Reposted from AIGA Experience Design mailist list)
Please join representatives from AIGA ED, UPA, and MiMA for a special happy hour with Peter Merholz and Marc Rettig. This free event is sponsored by AIGA Experience Design and the Carlson Marketing Group.
November 18, 6-8 PM at 222 Event Centre, 222 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN.
Open to everyone, espeically those who develop, design, research, and validate products and services that require software or digital life: information architects, HCI experts, usability engineers, interaction designers, interactive designers, graphic designers, industrial designers, and others.
[I think experience designers should attend, also, as the event's named after their profession. Why is it so hard to say "experience designer"? -- Bob]
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November 14, 2004
On the way to my rural hideout on the fringes of Kansas City, MO, I came upon three articles all in the New York Times that are bellwethers of the emerging power of integrated, interdisciplinary design. Whats most interesting is the angle of attack differs in each case: from advertising, retail marketing, and urban design.
Because these articles are archived (with the exception of the Arnell Group article) and must be purchased from the New York Times, following is a brief synopsis of each. For more details, acquire the original Time's articles or click to the other online articles I've linked.
ADVERTISING. Stuart Elliott, in an article in his Advertising column,
"Thinking Outside the Marketing Box," spotlights Omnicoms Arnell Group, a former ad agency that's outgrown the parochial boundaries of the ad business to enter, as its website proclaims, the "value creation and enhancement" business. According to the Elliott article, Peter Arnell, the founder and CEO of the Arnell Group, is to oversee a broad effort everything from product design to in-store marketing to traditional advertising to help Electrolux introduce a line of small domestic appliances in Q4 2005. Lars Goran Johannson, SVP for corporate communications at Electroluxs Stockholm HQ, hired Mr. Arnell because of his reputation for thinking beyond the boundaries of conventional advertising and venturing into realms like graphic design, retail marketing, and branded entertainment, reports Elliott. This is a different kind of business, an interesting mixture of design, creativity, and technology, says Johansson.
Other experience-design projects Arnell is tackling, according to the article, are:
A midtown Manhattan store for Jacob the Jeweller that evokes the interior of a gem mine
A store in Philadelphia for Reebok that is a showcase for its shoes as well as a place to buy them
A line of fire extinguishers and other home-safety products for Home Hero. According to Arnell, the typical fire extinguisher is so ugly, nobody wants to leave it on a counter. We need a product like what Braun did with coffee makers, i.e., making coffee-making visible, interactive, and entertaining, and the coffee maker a domestic modern art piece.
RETAIL MARKETING. In the Business Section, Robert Levine writes about Starbucks new plan to sell music with the French Roast, Would You Like an Extra Shot of Music With That Macchiato? The chain is altering its mix of in-store purchasables, reducing its line of domestic goods and now promoting burn-it-yourself CDs accessible via the 3,000-store broadband network that many of us use when we bring our laptops to do work in a Starbucks. Provided by T-Mobile, the network was originally derided as not providing Starbucks with sufficient ROI: by encouraging slow sipping while doing real work, the new commerce pundits predicted Starbucks was shooting itself in the foot. Now, with the addition of downloadable music, the broadbank foray is paying off in spades.
The project is headed by Dan MacKinnon, VP of Starbucks Entertainment. Starbucks Entertainment? Ahah, heres the clue. Coffee is still mainly how the chain parts consumers and their dollars, but ambience, long recognized as a key component of the Starbucks brand, is now being elevated to the position of a purchasable. Youll come to a Starbucks to (a) drink coffee, (b) do your work or chit-chat, and (c) interactively create unique musical collections to take home and enjoy later.
What else will be added to the mix? The possibilities arent infinite selling elaborate sandwiches apparently didnt pan out, and watching TV would definitely diminish the experience but everything from audio books and MP3 lectures to on-site or remote game-playing, for a price are definitely within reach. Says Phil Quartataro, president of EMI Music Marketing, quoted in the article, Starbucks is a branding machine. Nobody buys a 40-cent cup of coffee for $4 unless theyre buying a brand.
Thats what marketers always say. But its more than that, Mr. Q: theyre buying an experience. The experience expresses the brand.
A more extensive analysis of the trend toward mixing in-store product offerings and environments is provided in
Richard Siklos' account in the Business.Telegraph, "Starbucks Pushes Limites of What Its Customers Will Swallow." It's an excellent treatment and goes into some depth to explain why this is an industry-wide phenomenon not just limited to cutting-edge companies like Starbucks.
URBAN DESIGN. The new city of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, in the Southern California region known as The Inland Empire, centered on San Bernardino, is preening its feathers with the development of Victoria Gardens, A Different Sort of Mall for a California Town, as reported by Morris Newman. Within an area that encompasses 1.3 million square feet of retail and office space covering 12 blocks of this affluent suburb effectively, most of its budding downtown Victoria Gardens is a super-regional lifestyle center. Despite the novel label, observers may recognize the development, by Clevelands Forest City Enterprises in a joint venture with Lewis Retail Centers, as a neo-Main Street in the Venturi tradition, a Las Vegas casino-style shopping mall, without the casino. But a little different.
Newman describes Victoria Gardens a name somewhat out of keeping with the city's high-desert environment this way:
A turn-of-the-century citrus-packing plant inspired the building that houses the food court. Next door is a replica Craftsman home, of the type built in the region in the early 1900s. Elsewhere are a group of 1940s-style department stores, whose side walls of plain red brick add a note of humility to the elegant façade. (The bricks are actually painted on a stucco surface, in a trompe loeil style.) A freestanding brick fireplace, accented with colored tiles, purports to represent the remnants of a ranchers house long destroyed by fire.
The development comes loaded with intention, beyond being just a collection of typical retail-chain storefronts. A chief consultant to the developer was San Francisco urban design firm Field Paoli, famous for its eclecticism and comprehensive treatments. Says principal Yann Taylor, We wanted to avoid a formulaic approach in which all the streets have the same width. Instead, each street has a slightly different character and is planted with a different type of tree, to contribute to the sense of the project having been built up over time.
More interesting than this faux historicism, however, is the developers integration of Victoria Gardens streets with Rancho Cucamongas city streets, thus giving Victoria Gardens a real circulatory function. As writer Newman observes, Perhaps the most innovative part of the site planning is that the private development has been designed to blend into the existing street pattern of the city by aligning it with existing streets. Covering a substantial 147 acres in a still relatively small city, the project is not a stand-alone, according to Linda Daniels, the Rancho Cucamongas redevelopment director, Its meant to integrate with the residential neighborhoods that surround it.
Putting aside for a moment serious qualms that the unreal may overwhelm the real in a city as young and in formation as Rancho Cucamonga or perhaps, acceding to the notion that there is no practical difference in a modern suburban development, where the developers, not history, city government, or the residents, call the tune the combination of thought and resources brought together to create Victoria Gardens is impressive. The roster includes the developer, a retail management company, three architectural firms (besides Field Paoli, also Altoon & Poerter, L.A., and KA Inc., Cleveland), and the city itself (not to mention the retailers).
Despite Newmans well-founded qualification, that despite its urban bravura, Victoria Gardens is an amalgam of the regional mall with elements of traditional town planning, from an experience-design viewpoint Victoria Gardens is a strong statement in favor of integrated planning and design. While its overt purpose is to move goods and generate revenues for its tenants, Victoria Gardens is actually having a salutary effect on the citys own development plans, which initially envisioned a traditional shopping mall, all pre-fab and parking lots.
Reluctant to sign on for a nontraditional retail location, retailers were brought onboard when the city agreed to build nearby a public library and a performing arts center, to lure its high-income residents downtown. Says Brian Jones, president of developer Forest City, The last thing we wanted to do was create a theme park
. The project is actually a community gathering place. The driver, says Simon Horton, Forest Citys project lead, was that retail has become polarized, in the form of value cheaper locales, traditional mall settings versus experience. Of course, experience wins hands down when people, as in Rancho Cucamonga, are affluent and can vote with their dollars.
Which begs the revolutionary question: if youre not wealthy, must you have a bad shopping experience? Is commercial purgatory class-based? Whose purpose does that serve?
A more florid, less critical, description of Victoria Gardens can be found in the Daily Bulletin article, "Victoria Gardens a Shoppers Shangri-La," by La Rue Novick.
Kudos to the New York Times staff for its continuing insightful examinations of the experience design paradigm emerging in practice.
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November 5, 2004
Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle about the demise of San Jose's hard rock station, KSJO (without much warning, it shifted to a Mexican oldies format, in acknowledging of a dramatically shifted South Bay demographic). The story might appear this weekend - if so I'll post the link in the comments.
The interviewer didn't know much about KSJO, what kind of music they played, and hard rock was not really her thing. She was looking for a nostalgia angle, perhaps listening to this station took me back to my head-banging days (I didn't have those and it didn't), and I tried to explain to her what I think many rock and roll fans have understood, that listening to older rock music straddles a really interesting line between ironic enjoyment and actual enjoyment. You can have both experiences simultaneously, and there's a gestalt - it's more fun because you're laughing at how crappy it is and how cool it is. This is Spinal Tap was the first and best encapsulation of that. The first time I saw Dread Zeppelin (where an Elvis impersonator leads a reggae band through Led Zep cover tunes)was a dramatic version of this - when they played Stairway to Heaven, the crowd absolutely freaked out. Stairway? Does anyone really want to hear this song again? In this irony-straddling context, we did.
And so, I got a kick out of this story wherein a group of improv performance artists decided to give a very low-profile rock band their "best gig ever." They have a large group of "agents" that they called upon to attend a performance and treat it as if this was their favorite band. But not to mock the band or to sarcastically act as if this was their favorite band. Simply describing it is a challenge, because the notion of sending people in to pretend to enjoy something brings up an image of people yelling too loud and giving off false audience vibes. These guys didn't do that; they are performers, and they took their assignment seriously.
The link above documents the experience from a few points of view. Despite making an overt choice to act as if this was a band they were really enjoying, it seems as if everyone, the band included, really did have a good time. And these guys are improv performers, not culture-jammers, so no doubt that improv aspect of being in-the-moment really came through. This could easily have been one of those clever-post-Candid-Camera punk'd tricks we see on TV and the web all the time, but in fact, it was a genuine yet manufactured experience.
A similarly-themed story hitting the boards today is about the effectiveness of robot cats for medical treatment. The robots generated more emotional response and engagement than plush toys. They may have a therapeutic role, or may even simply remind people to take their medications.
No one is fooled by the robot cats, but even with disbelief not suspended, there is a "true" experience created.
These may be things that storytellers such as filmmakers have known forever, but applying some of this to social networks and robotic technology is opening up some new possibilities, and forcing us to look closer at not only what is real and what is fake, but at what points does it really matter?
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November 1, 2004
Check out Malcolm Gladwell's recent Pop!Tech presentation (audio, available in a couple of different formats). His new book, Blink, comes out in January, and his already-high profile is about to take another leap (I've heard that his speaking fees have similarly bumped, so this may be your best way to hear him). In this presentation he speaks about how people make decisions, how the experience of asking them about preference can strongly influence their responses.
He gives a few familiar examples (the Aeron chair was ugly when it was first viewed, yet later it won design awards; people liked New Coke, but it bombed) and falls back on that typical anti-design-research stance - why ask people what they want when they can't tell you?
Fortunately, Gladwell is smarter than that and really just encourages us to be careful what we ask, how we ask it, and how we interpret it. As a researcher myself, I'd like to hear an acknowledgement of the skills that we bring to the process, that Gladwell understands that "asking someone" isn't simply asking them, and that listening to them isn't simply taking down their answers and totalling them. In this presentation, he pokes at it, but he doesn't quite come out and say it...
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Theories of Experience