APPLYING CRITICAL DESIGN TO COMMUNICATE CULTURAL INSIGHTS EMPATHICALLY: A CASE STUDY
DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: De La O Campos, José Rodrigo (1); Güemes, David (2)
Institution: 1: School of Architecture, Art, and Design, Tecnologico de Monterrey; 2: Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, TecLabs, Vice-rectory for Research and Technology Transfer
Section: Innovation and Creativity in Design and Engineering Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.28
Human-Centered Design research relies on research activities such as daily studies, cultural probes, or deep-dive interviews in order to obtain insights about the people it is studying through an emphatic lens. Usually, these types of results are communicated through reports or co-creation workshops, where recommendations and design briefs are generated. These reports or and whitepapers are a great source of evidence of the recorded results, but; however we want to explore alternative ways of sharing these cultural insights by utilizing design tactics related to Critical and Speculative Design as a way to bring an enhanced emphatic reflection on these insights. This research article explores the use of Critical Design as a way to communicate cultural insights, generated through a human-centered design research process executed by Industrial Design Students. This hypothesis was tested on a collaborative project between a major international company that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances, and home accessories based in Sweden and The School of Architecture, Art, and Design at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City. The objective of this designing-exercise was, for the Swedish company, to better understand the desires, frustrations, goals, and cultural differences of end-users in the field of the connected home in Mexico. This understanding was focused on life at home from the Mexican perspective; this can help raise awareness about product relevance in this market and help the company to improve the current and future smart home product range to be a better market fit for Mexico and Latin America. This project involved 16 undergraduate industrial design junior students working on a semester-long project. The framework for this project consists of two stages: i) an explorative stage that involved human-centred design research activities such as daily studies and co-creation workshops with real families, and ii) a creative/reflective stage where the students utilized Critical and Speculative design tactics in order to translate cultural insights found through the first stage. The results of this research present a qualitative análisis, comparing the whitepaper generated by the students at the end of the first stage and the results of the hypothetical objects at the end of the second stage to identify which method carried more meaningful insights as perceived by the designers working with the partnering company.
Keywords: User-Centered Design, Industrial Design, Speculative Design, Critical Design, Critical Thinking, Mexico, Internet of Things.