Getting it Right: Lessons Learned...
Getting it Right: Lessons Learned in Applying a Critical Artefact Approach BOWEN, Simon Available from Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA) at: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/459/ This document is the author deposited version. You are advised to consult the publisher's version if you wish to cite from it. Published version BOWEN, Simon (2009). Getting it Right: Lessons Learned in Applying a Critical Artefact Approach. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008. Repository use policy Copyright �� and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in SHURA to facilitate their private study or for non- commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive http://shura.shu.ac.uk
Undisciplined! Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2008. Sheffield, UK. July 2008 441/1 Getting it Right: Lessons Learned in Applying a Critical Artefact Approach Simon John Bowen, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom Abstract ���Critical artefacts���, the products of critical design (Dunne 1999), prompt reflection rather than satisfy obvious user needs. The author is developing an instrumental use of critical artefacts as part of a human-centred design process. Earlier work showed the effectiveness of this approach in allowing stakeholders to engage with novel product ideas. This paper describes a project, Living Rooms, developing the approach with a broader group of stakeholders and devising the critical artefacts with other designers. Although providing insights into the design context (Bowen & Chamberlain 2008), this application of the approach was less productive than in earlier projects and suggested factors that could affect its efficacy. Implications for future applications of the approach are noted: the type of contexts it is appropriate for the characteristics of effective stakeholder participants and the need to educate them in the context and enable them to think imaginatively. Von Hippel���s ���lead users��� (1986, 1988) could provide a framework for selecting stakeholders likely to engage effectively with critical artefacts. The second part of the paper summarises lead user theory and discusses how the two characteristics of lead users, motivation and capability (Luthje & Herstatt 2004), tend to make them suitable participants for the critical artefact approach. A second project, Digital Mementos, is described ��� in particular how lead-user- based selection and the above implications have been applied. The paper concludes by reviewing the progress in developing generalisable methods exploiting the critical artefact approach, noting the need to position the approach within wider design activity and points toward future work relating it to the entire product design process. Keywords Critical Design Human-Centred Design Innovation Design Methodology Critical Design and Critical Artefacts In recent years a ���critical design��� movement has developed (Dunne 1999, Dunne & Raby 2001, Janssens 2006, Pullin 2007, Z33 2007). Critical artefacts, as I have termed the products of critical design (2007), could be seen to differ from the products of ���non-critical��� design in two ways. Firstly, although they are the end products of a design process (i.e. not prototypes mid-process), they are not designed with manufacture and sale as their main objective. They are not explicitly intended as products to be bought, and are often disseminated via gallery exhibition or publication. Secondly they are not intended as practical solutions to obvious user needs rather they prompt reflection by their audience (they may confound or provoke) reflection on
Undisciplined! Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2008. Sheffield, UK. July 2008 441/2 the assumptions underlying the conceptualisation of their contexts, the manner of their design, and the social scenarios suggested by their use. What are appropriate wants/needs, social behaviours and roles for designed artefacts? And what values and ideologies are inherent within them? Akin to art objects, critical artefacts ask questions rather than offer answers. Fig 1. Mr Germy a ���fictional product��� by Human Beans 2001 For example Mr Germy (figure 1), a critical artefact produced by the Human Beans partnership of two London design professionals (2006), is a teething toy impregnated with bacteria so that babies chewing it improve their immune system by developing resistance to the subsequently exposed bacteria. Human Beans don���t expect anyone to wish to buy this product1, but it does prompt consideration of the conflict between promoting children���s health and hygiene, and the acceptable roles for products within this (a product that makes a child a little sick to make her healthier overall?). For the past five years, my research has focussed on developing a use of critical artefacts within human-centred design2. The reflection afforded by critical artefacts is often the desired outcome of critical design. However in my approach I am developing a more instrumental use of this reflection. The approach is focussed on the context (social and physical) for which products are to be designed (the ���design context���). Critical reflection is used as a tool for engaging with the design context���s stakeholders and developing the designer���s understanding of that context. Related ���critical design practices��� 1 In fact another of Human Beans��� critical artefacts, Power Pizza (a laptop case developed from a cardboard pizza box), aroused such interest that it was later developed and sold as a limited production run. However it is important to note that this was an unplanned consequence rather than a deliberate intention. 2 Human-centred design referring to an evolution of user-centred design: designing for a wider set of stakeholders rather than a product���s users alone and designing to advance human dignity rather than designing usable/desirable products without questioning their functions and roles (Buchanan 2001).