Design, Food and Human Connection

A research project with the intent of understanding the parallels between chefs and designers

Nicholas Rock
Assistant Professor
Boston University

Design is present in visible and invisible ways in contemporary society such that the term “design” has permeated everyday language—resulting in a situation where everyone knows what design is and no one knows what design is. Design is becoming further integrated with business, and socio-economic demands require a constant pursuit of data and technological advances while leaving behind the personal and social side of those same topics. Design is altering our human experience under the illusion of increasing our connectedness.  

We have begun an examination of how design can enable a return to more meaningful connections with people. Since design as a concept is becoming increasingly universal, we are looking at it through the lens of something as culturally ubiquitous as food. How can our relationship with food inform our relationship with design in society? How might we improve our approach to how we both practice and teach design by investigating practitioners of gastronomy and culinary arts? 

Our studio began this research project with the intent of understanding the parallels between chefs and designers—hoping to learn from the creative process of chefs pushing the limits of their profession as a way of advancing our own. Through a series of interviews and collaborative experiences, we have held conversations with designers, architects, chefs, restauranteurs, food historians, and farmers to better understand both a historical and contemporary relationship between food, design, and culture. We encountered a shared philosophy of creating opportunities for human connection. Using this insight, we are forming new design methodologies and altering our approach to design education.  

We need to reinforce our connection to each other as human beings. If we return to this as a core principle in design practice and education, then we can create new opportunities to bring people together instead of driving people apart.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2019.

Is the Future Online Classes?

Teaching methods based on tutorials, cumulative projects, and concept based learning strategies.

Dannell MacIlwraith
Assistant Professor
Kutztown University

More and more colleges and universities are beginning to explore offering traditional studio art and design courses online. At Kutztown University, first year students are required to take an online Digital Foundations course. This course gives a solid grounding in basic computer skills, software knowledge, and visual thinking, a framework for more complex areas of digital media. By giving the flexibility of an online class — students can still have hands-on techniques, experience constructive critique, hand-in physical prints, and have a good mentor/student relationship.

As the curriculum designer, I based my teaching methods on tutorials, cumulative projects, and concept based learning strategies. The short tutorials are designed to maintain attention. I have abandoned the traditional discussion forums of online education, instead utilizing social media for critiquing techniques. Finally, through surveys, quizzes and an ‘artifact’ project the faculty assess Digital Foundations for tweaking and modifying for future sections.

Many colleges and universities are moving classrooms online for financial savings. What are the most effective strategies for teaching art & design online? What about ensuring the same rigor and quality as an in-person course? We’ll explore possible solutions to these problems that are facing the early pioneers of online education in design.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2019.

Designing for the Visually Impaired

Affordable accessibility design.

Min Choi
Adjunct Professor
San Diego State University
San Diego City College

Low vision is a part of the natural aging process, and we all have the potential to face it at some point in our lives. Though there are many exceptional high-tech devices to help people with visually impaired and blind, there has not been enough attention given to applying accessible design when creating affordable everyday products to benefit them.  The statistic shows that in the U.S., only around 30%1 of people with a visual disabilities are fully employed, and cannot afford to buy assistive technologies that may be awesome for them, but costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

To address this issue, I am researching how people with low vision could experience high-contrast colors and basic shapes with tactility at a reasonable price. In-person, human-centered design approach guided me to build a deep empathy towards my audience and explore design process and solutions that would help celebrate their disabilities.

A home product line incorporates high-color contrasts and tactility using universal symbols for people with visual impairment. It is an experiment to help them to be independent and empower their everyday activities those of us with good vision often take for granted—including eating, getting ready for bed, and getting dressed in style.

At its heart, we must identity what the audiences’ needs are—and the only way to create design solutions is to connect with those who will benefit the most. Design with purpose and function is beneficial for everyone—especially those with disabilities.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago on February 14, 2020.

Design Delight: A Framework For The Analysis And Generation Of Pleasurable Designs

Engendering experiential qualities: surprise, vitality, cuteness, serendipity, and reassurance.

Omar Sosa-Tzec
Assistant Professor
University of Michigan

This research introduces a framework named design delight, which is intended to analyze and give form to features of design products that provoke delight. In all human experiences, including designed experiences, delight plays a significant role. Particularly in modern societies, whose everyday life can be stressful, encountering moments of high pleasure can remind people that good things and individuals are part of such a life. It is no surprise that delight has been acknowledged as noteworthy element of experiences shaped by design. Design products that are delightful, no matter whether these are objects, graphics, or services, create emotional bonds, stronger memories, higher levels of loyalty, engagement, motivation for repurchase, and product promotion by word of mouth [1]–[6].

Design delight focuses on how design features are capable of engendering five particular experiential qualities: surprise, vitality, cuteness, serendipity, and reassurance. For design delight, these qualities characterize those instants of significant pleasure that a person encounters while she makes use a design product. Design delight is attentive to how design features help one or more of these qualities manifest or become salient in an interval of the user experience. This research argues that moments of pleasure derived from the combination of surprise, vitality, cuteness, serendipity, and reassurance constitute a rhetorical dimension of design products. A designer can make use of these five qualities to influence people’s behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. Design delight pays particular attention to how its constituents persuade, promote identification, invite to understanding, aid in self-discovery and self-knowledge, and shape reality.  

Design delight derives from the semiotic and rhetorical analysis [7]–[9] of numerous design products, including different kinds of user interfaces and interactive media, analog objects, and services. It also derives from secondary research on the notions of pleasure, delight, and aesthetics from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including marketing, philosophy, and human-computer interaction. As a framework, design delight unifies foundations of semiotics, rhetoric, multimodal argumentation, and design for its theoretical underpinning. Design delight regards design features as multimodal signs which come into existence through a combination of six basic elements, namely, the visual, verbal, aural, olfactory, tactile, and temporal. Seen as signs, design features represent a means by which the designer communicates her intent; particularly, to invoke one or more of the five qualities happen. However, this semiotic perspective also considers that the context of use and how it affects the user’s process of generating meaning have an impact in how she grasps and reacts to such an intent.

Design delight is formulated as a conceptual framework to aid design practitioners and scholars in analyzing and elaborating on how design features engender significant moments instants of pleasure. Design delight is not a universal or quantifiable characterization of delight. Rather, design delight offers design practitioners and scholars a lens to view delight as something that shapes everyday life through design products. As making products that are surprising, lively, cute, serendipitous, and reassuring can contribute to living a good life, they can also lead to undesirable behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes. Professionals and scholars of design simply cannot be oblivious to the impact of delight in modern life and its connection with people’s psychological, physical, and emotional well-being. Whether design delight is used for generative or analytical purposes, this framework urges design practitioners and scholars keep in mind that creating pleasurable products entails an ethical responsibility.

References

[1]             M. W. Alexander, “Customer Delight: A Review,” Academy of Marketing Studies Journal; Arden, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 39–53, 2010.

[2]             M. J. Arnold, K. E. Reynolds, N. Ponder, and J. E. Lueg, “Customer delight in a retail context: investigating delightful and terrible shopping experiences,” Journal of Business Research, vol. 58, no. 8, pp. 1132–1145, Aug. 2005.

[3]             R. Chitturi, R. Raghunathan, and V. Mahajan, “Delight by Design: The Role of Hedonic versus Utilitarian Benefits,” Journal of Marketing, vol. 72, no. 3, pp. 48–63, 2008.

[4]             J. S.-C. Hsu, T.-C. Lin, T.-W. Fu, and Y.-W. Hung, “The effect of unexpected features on app users’ continuance intention,” Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 418–430, Oct. 2015.

[5]             A. Kumar, R. W. Olshavsky, and M. F. King, “Exploring alternative antecedents of customer delight,” Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, vol. 14, pp. 14–26, 2001.

[6]             R. T. Rust and R. L. Oliver, “Should we delight the customer?,” J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci., vol. 28, no. 1, p. 86, 2000.

[7]             C. S. de Souza, C. F. Leitão, R. O. Prates, S. Amélia Bim, and E. J. da Silva, “Can inspection methods generate valid new knowledge in HCI? The case of semiotic inspection,” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vol. 68, no. 1–2, pp. 22–40, Jan. 2010.

[8]             O. Sosa-Tzec and M. A. Siegel, “Rhetorical Evaluation of User Interfaces,” in Proceedings of the 8th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Fun, Fast, Foundational, New York, NY, USA, 2014, pp. 175–178.

[9]             J. Bardzell, “Interaction criticism: An introduction to the practice,” Interacting with Computers, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 604–621, 2011.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago on February 14, 2020.

Obstruction by Graphical Construction: How Graphical Sculptures Can Counteract Symbols of Hate

At the intersection of art and law is the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) 1990, which forbids the destruction or manipulation of copyrightable works of art.

Brian McSherry
Adjunct Professor
Borough of Manhattan Community College

By using art, design, and law how can one legally affect politics and social equity in the United States, specifically when it comes to symbols of hate? This proposal looks towards a specific intersection of art, design, physical property, and legal loopholes to answer the aforementioned question as it relates to proposed border policies in the United States. At the intersection of art and law in the United States is the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990, which forbids the destruction or manipulation of copyrightable works of art.[1]

Recently, the destruction of 5pointz, a derelict graffiti haven in Long Island City, exemplified the power that VARA has as it relates to real estate production (Feuer, 2018).[2] Jerry Wolkoff, the owner and developer of 5pointz, was forced to pay 45 graffiti artists a total of $6.7million in restitution for the destruction of the artists’ work.

However, can VARA be used as an estoppel to the destruction of art, or is it merely a remedy for damages? According to the case of David Phillips, VARA allows for a temporary restraining order to protect works that are likely to be altered (Lipez, 2006).[3]

This proposal looks at these cases, the history of VARA, temporary restraining orders as a guide to create site-specific graphical work to stop border wall production. In order to halt the production of a border wall, one must purchase a parcel of land and create a site-specific graphical structure.

Here, one will not only have real estate protection, but also protection in the intellectual property of the work and the protection granted under VARA. Thus, an artist can use law as art and art as law to create a visual and physical safe haven in an area brimming with symbols of hate and exclusion.


[1] Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5128 (codified in scattered sections of 17 U.S.C.).

[2] Feuer, Alan, “Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals”, New York Times, 2018.

[3] Phillips v. Pembroke Ral Estate, Inc., 459 F.3d 128 (1st Cir. 2006).

Using Icons to Encourage Visual Literacy on Campus

The role of design in instructional materials to engage a broad spectrum of student abilities.

Lance Hidy 
Accessible Media Specialist 
Northern Essex Community College

The academic administrators at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts, are considering adopting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a new methodology for improving student success and retention.

Having had disappointing results from other applied strategies, they are taking a fresh look at the role of design—especially for making instructional materials more accessible and engaging for a broad spectrum of student abilities. One important facet of UDL that the college is currently investigating is expanding the use of image content in text documents

To illustrate this idea, the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs asked me to develop a system of icons to represent every degree and certificate offered by the college, along with icons for the six academic divisions, and the nine athletic programs—87 in all. Many of the faculty who were invited to participate in the process of icon development for their disciplines said that it was an eye-opening experience, being the first time they had engaged in a visual thinking exercise.

As the collection of icons was finalized and distributed, employees were invited to use them to promote their disciplines. Additionally, a colorful poster of all 87 icons is circulating on campus and off, providing not only a useful recruiting tool, but also a new way for employees and students to understand what the college is

It is too early to assess how persuasive this icon project will be in shifting the college culture toward UDL and improved visual literacy. But it is providing a popular, concrete example of UDL that is already being used by everyone, and is being cited as campus committees begin debating the role of UDL in the next strategic plan.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.3: Merrimack College on March 30, 2019.

Exploring Narrative Inquiry as a Design Research Method

Anne Berry
Assistant Professor
Cleveland State University

Whether working as industry professionals or engaged in academic research, designers are trained to embrace complex, unframed problems and prioritize the needs of end-users. Processes derived from design practice, such as design thinking and human-centered design (HCD), can subsequently be useful in providing frameworks and strategies to address broad, undefined challenges. There are limits to the depth and breadth of information that can be gathered about the complexities of human nature when filtered through these approaches, however. Designing products for people versus designing to affect change within complex political, social, and cultural systems—or what scholars Cinnamon Janzer and Lauren Weinstein refer to as “object-centered” and “situation-centered” practices—run counter to one another. Questions subsequently remain as to how designers should bridge gaps between the design problems identified and the research techniques employed when working towards solutions.

In contrast to “object-centered” approaches inherent in design thinking and HCD, narrative inquiry is a qualitative method particularly suited to human complexity. Everyday lived experiences, their impact, and the social and cultural contexts in which the experiences take place are examined through storytelling. With an emphasis on building knowledge, versus setting out to achieve specific outcomes, narrative inquiry has the potential to help designers develop deeper understanding of the people and systems they design for. This talk, consequently, will address how narrative inquiry can be utilized as a research method for design research.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.2: CAA 2019 Conference New York on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Wearable Workshops

As computing becomes more integrated into our environment and body, how is our behavior changing?

LeAnne Wagner
Professional Lecturer
School of Design
DePaul University

As computing becomes more integrated into our environment and body, how is our behavior changing? How do we, as users, adapt to the technology and how does it affect our expression and movement? Over the past year, these questions have been explored through collaboration with dancers and designers to create wearable art pieces that challenge the control dynamic between technology and dancer. As part of that exploration, a series of workshops and classes has been offered to help demystify the creation of wearable electronics and controllers in effort to put these tools in the hands of designers, artists, and students. Some of the topics of the workshops have included creating wearable game controllers, musical instruments, and dance. The creations are simple, but open the door to further exploration of controlling and questioning the technology that is increasingly present in our lives. This talk will share what people have created in these workshops and the inquiry that is derived from the process. The tools used to experiment with basic electronics and wearables will also be discussed, leaving the audience with resources to continue the investigation. 

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.

How AI is Changing Design

Scott Theisen
Executive Creative Director
Deloitte Digital

Everyday a few more pieces of software and technology are being worked on, distributed and connected using some flavor of AI. What does this mean for how we design artifacts, software and services? What might this mean for us as professionals? How might this start to change our perception of ourselves? This talk will highlight some of the new, fascinating and scary ways AI is already affecting us.

Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, consumer AI technologies have had to deal with unforeseen implications of its creation and deployment, when put in the hands of their millions of users. Design bias and human needs have created issues that reveal the designers immaturity with the medium.

Software manufacturers deploying AI to generate content, mathematically analyze our requests and respond to our input. How is this influencing our ideas, our culture and the choices we make? With computer vision that can process incomprehensible data, rapid iteration that can outperform human limitations… AI is present in our daily lives and shaping the future in which we will live.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.

A Taste of Miami: Mentors, Creative Teams, Award Shows

John Delacruz
Associate Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications 
San Jose State University

A mentor is a friendly guide who helps a less experienced person by demonstrating positive behaviors. To be effective, a mentor’s role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the mentee’s needs and limitations. Mentoring is important because students learn from essential knowledge and skills from their mentors whilst also providing an understanding of workplace practices. This is certainly the case in the creative industries.

The creative industries rely on mentorship practices,  they require team-working skills and the ability to learn, support and help others in an increasingly inter-disciplinary environment.  Students at San Jose State University (SJSU) aiming to enter the creative industries have been working on a project with Miami Ad School in San Francisco. Miami Ad School, a portfolio school with campuses worldwide, intensively prepares students to enter the advertising industry as art directors and copywriters. In two years students develop approaches to problem-solving, they develop their craft and become confident communicators of ideas as they learn from experienced creatives at the top of their game. In fact, MAS is guided by an active teaching and learning model where the instructor can be seen as a mentor as much as a teacher.

SJSU students have been included in MAS creative teams on a course that focuses on award show student competition briefs. The aim is to better understand how mentoring can take place within a creative team where, through active learning, undergraduate students can develop new approaches to their own practice as a result of working alongside students immersed in different pedagogies. Will these undergraduates bring a new approach back to their SJSU classes and will their work improve as a result? Expectations and reflections gathered at both the start and end of the exercise will provide valuable insights.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.