In this part I will reflect on the things I have learned throughout my bachelor of industrial design in 5 different expertise areas as well as my professional skills
Creativity & Aesthetics
Within this competency area, I acquired the skills to deploy a number of brainstorming techniques and learned to structure the outcomes of these brainstorms. During various projects like Project 1 and Fuut Events I gained experience in using Adobe CC programs such as Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro to express and communicate my ideas in a visually appealing way.
Because of my experience as a music producer I was always looking for the overlap of music and design. During the course Multisensorial design: Sound Design, I learned how sound can be used as a tool for communication within products. Where I first would have thought of the visual or auditory qualities when thinking of aesthetics, the course Aesthetics of interaction made me realize that an interaction can be aesthetic as well. I realized that the baselines for aesthetics like consistency or contrast also work for creating aesthetic interactions.
During the course Design and Sensorial form I gained experience in designing with the complex relationship between auditory sense, tactile experience and form and worked to create a multi-sensorial, aesthetic design. The MDA framework (Hunicke et al. 2004) that I got familiar with during Design for Games and Play I,II and III enabled me to deconstruct existing experiences and find inspiration in the design choices made for these experiences. I learned game design theories can be taken out of the context of the screen and into the real world with spatial and social context. The synthesis of all these broad perspectives on the creative process and aesthetics support me in creating rich and immersive experiences.
Technology & Realisation
When I first started this study I found this competency the most intimidating. I had never written any code and I anticipated this to be outside my future field of interest.
During courses like Creative Programming and Creative Electronics I learned the basics of writing code and using sensors to create a working prototype with simple interaction. I learned that a well functioning prototype is essential for communicating a concept and thus also for receiving valuable feedback on the concept.
Over the last years I developed myself in creating prototypes that look professional and clean. During various courses like designing for the Everyday, Project 2 and Design & Sensorial form I gained experience in making building plans, working with woodworking machines and applying sanding and painting techniques to create high-fidelity prototypes.
During the courses Design for Games and play I and II I learned how to create interactive experiences in a digital environment by using software like Unity. Within these projects I specifically focussed on sound to create immersive experiences that fit with the feeling that the story should convey. Next, I am responsible for sound and interaction in the student team: Hypar collective. During Glow 2019 we set up an interactive lighting installation including interactive sounds. Throughout this project I gained know-how in setting up interactive systems and creating an experience for large groups of visitors.
Because I still did not feel confident using sensors and writing code I decided to do the course Intelligent Interactive Products. During this course I learned how to make use of machine learning to analyse sensor data and create rich and embodied interactions. This gives me more freedom to map interactions to the natural behaviour of the user.
Over the years, the more confidence I got with using electronics and writing code, the more I started to enjoy working on this part of the projects. I found that I excel in translating the idea into a concrete prototype that is experienceable and put the concept to the test.
User & Society
In the course user centred design I learned about the different methods to involve users in the design process. The user can be involved to gain more insight about the current situation and to find design opportunities, but also to validate design decisions later in the process. I was taught different user research methodologies like diary studies, usability studies or A/B testing and learned which to apply at what moment.
The course Socio-Cultural Sensitivity taught me that things that are perceived as normal here can be viewed totally differently in another culture. I learned that immersing myself in the user's life is very important to find and understand the root cause of a problem.
I have experienced the value of involving users during the design process in various projects. I was, and still am part of Hypar Collective. With help of qualitative interviews we were able to validate how the installation was experienced and where things needed to be adjusted
What I realized during the course Design for the everyday is that technological improvement should not only be focussed on making processes more fast and efficient. All the design choices should be made from the users perspective with the goal to bring value to their lives.
For my USE trajectory I chose The Human in Technology (PT). There, I studied a lot of theories on perception and cognition. I have found this knowledge very useful when designing for experiences or interaction design, as I learned about the capabilities and limitations of our brain, the reasons why we act in certain ways, how to guide the attention of the user as well as basic human needs. This knowledge supports me in designing from a user perspective as I know more about the features of the human brain and how we perceive things.
Business & Entrepreneurship
Over the years I gained a different attitude towards business and entrepreneurship. First, I had quite a negative view on business, as I believed this mainly involved maximising profit, which I believe should not be the main focus of society. I do still believe that our society is too fixated on financial gains, but I also have realized that every product should be able to survive in the economy in order to give value to people's lives.
I learned that the experience for the customer begins whenever the customer is getting in touch with the company. Especially when designing for events you have to make sure that the customers know what they can expect at your event and if they think it is worth their money. This whole journey from the start,when the user first gets in touch with the company until the event can all be designed from a user experience perspective. Resonating the potential value of the design through promotion material is something I have gained experience with over the last few years. I did this through promoting music events like Conduct festival and FUUT and music albums as well. I believe that this experience of creating hype and setting the right expectations is very valuable for me as a designer.
My entrepreneurial mindset really surfaced when developing FUUT which is a nightlife concept that I started with two fellow students. Over the years of organizing these events, I gained a lot of experience in business and entrepreneurship. After observing the underrepresentation of a specific target group in the nightlife of Eindhoven we took this as a design opportunity and successfully developed a nightlife concept that was enjoyed by this specific target group. By developing and realizing this concept I gained experience in branding and promotion as well as the financial aspect to facilitate such events. Moreover, I gained experience in pitching the event to possible stakeholders and administrative tasks related to setting up a new business.
During the course Design Innovation Methods I learned to define the value of a product or service and put it in a business context by using business model canvas and value proposition canvas. By using these frameworks I am now able to concretise the possible value and in this way also better able to sell a product or service.
Math, Data & Computing
During the course Data analytics for engineers I learned how to analyse big data sets and create useful visualisations to acquire useful insights. During the course Making sense of sensors, I put these new skills into practice by using sensor data to research a specific user context. I realised that quantitative research is very valuable because of its scientific integrity. It can also be very useful to use in combination with qualitative research to validate findings.
During Intelligent Interactive Products I learned how to train classifiers to differentiate between different kinds of input. I learned how to realize object recognition, but also how movements can be identified by using input from an accelerometer. Also, this technique can be applied for sound recognition or classification. I learned how to create a classifier using complex data input and make it resilient against noise and realize stable interaction for different users and in changing environments. I realized that machine learning allows us to create new kinds of interactions which gives opportunities to change the way we interact with our products.
What I found out very early in my bachelor’s is that It is very important to all share the same vision for a project in order to go through the design process smoothly. Within the team I tried to ask questions to my teammates in order to know what they really thought so we could discuss as a team what would be the right thing to do based on all of our perspectives.
Ironically, I sometimes had trouble communicating my own ideas in such a way that my other teammates really understood what my idea was and that they could see the possible value of this. Throughout my bachelor's I learned ways to express my ideas better as explained in the Creativity and Aesthetics and I also used this to communicate my ideas to my teammates.
In terms of planning, I found the method of backwards planning to be very useful. This way of working really gives structure to the design process and gives an approximation on what steps should be undertaken at what time in order to get the desired result at the deadline.
At the beginning of this study I mainly based my design decisions on my intuition and the validation of the user. Later I learned how to use scientific information in the design process. I learned scientific information to really strengthen the design choices if the scientific information is in line with your findings or intuition. I realized that this improves the credibility of the design.
Hunicke, Robin & Leblanc, Marc & Zubek, Robert. (2004). MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research. AAAI Workshop - Technical Report. 1.