Systems Design, The Eindhoven School



The future of design is unclear, as designerly responsibilities are changing. The emphasis used to be on form and production, but as the products to be designed have changed, design has changed. With an interactive product the designer needs to consider not only the form but also the temporal aspects of the product’s interaction and behaviour, and even the specifics of its functionality. While we are starting to understand how to design for interaction through the integrating of form, interaction and function, the next challenge is already in sight: designing for systems

From a design perspective, there is very little experience of designing systems, and there are no methods ready at hand. However, our question of ?how to design for systems? is not a ?methodology? question in the first place. To formulate a method is to simplify and abstract the design challenge into a defined set of subsequent steps to be taken. In the case of design for systems, this is problematic because it is difficult, if not impossible, to have an overview of the complete system before it exists or of its impact on society. Not only is our grasp of the system limited by our point of view, but systems also allow for many different yet valid points of view, thanks to their inherent complexity.
In order to overcome these issues it is necessary to start exploring the design space for systems. As we have little experience in this area, it is essential that we get involved in designing ourselves and let our insight in these matters grow until we can compile it into a relevant methodology. What is more, we need to take an experiential approach to the design of these systems. That is, we need to undergo the experience of living with such systems as we are designing them if we are to make value judgements on the direction the solution should take. In other words, the uncertainty of method and the complex nature of systems call for a research-through-design approach, with ?doing? as the mechanism for obtaining insight into the process at hand guided by relevant theory and a vision of what we want to achieve.
This exposition contains a selection of projects involving members of the Designing Quality in Interaction (DQI) group in which research, education and industry come together. These projects provide insights into our perspective on design and how it has changed over the years. We aim to paint a picture of a world that could be, as well as giving insight into how we think the design challenge for industrial designers is changing.

Text by Oscar Tomico