How People Feel & Think: Design, Emotion, Worldview & Openness

Assignment 2: Blog post

Written by Iris Yip and Joseph Kim

In the last couple of weeks, How People Work has continued to push us to be more conscious of our Design process. In this blog post, we reflect on our main takeaways on how emotion, cognition, and inclusivity informs our design practice and thinking.

Emotion:

Joseph: Emotions are dynamic and blended. Design isn’t about “happy” user experience because people are complex — emotions aren’t binary and theory of hedonic adaptation states: emotions simply don’t last. Everything elicits an emotional response: People feel things all the time. Design isn’t about forcing emotion, but deciding which emotion to evoke. Designers need to understand personal episodic memories shape the user’s emotional response and that we’re never fully in control.

Iris: The theory of hedonic adaptation and consistently returning to a homeostasis of emotional balance makes a lot of sense. I agree that as designers, we tend to want to design for positive emotions only without accounting for product longevity and consistent useability after its initial use. This particular lecture made me think about designing sustainably from an emotional perspective; we’re so used to looking for innovation in design that we often forget to design for something that lasts.

“Tilting” teapot by Ronnefeldt

Cognition:

Joseph: In Human-Factors & Ergonomics, context & cognition are both needed for good user-experience. Dan Lockton talked about Alphonse Chapanis redesigning shapes of plane knobs to reflect their functions — this example raised a question: “does your (designer) mental model match others?” I believe that when context & cognition are in harmony, users won’t have to think when interacting with the design.

Iris: This class enforced to me the idea of designing for others rather than myself. Coming from an artistic background, my work was always driven by my personal identity, but something I appreciate about design is the broad perspective that it requires. Observing the way that my peers look at problems differently during class activities reminds me that we have unique mental models. It’s fascinating that cognition/ergonomics is used by not only designers but professionals from all fields to navigate everyday interactions for a better “universal” human experience.

Nest Thermostat

Inlcusivity:

Joseph: Research and considering various perspectives are key to inclusivity. At CMU Design, some projects take a colorblind approach to “solving a problem.” We’re asked to address systemic/social issues, but the deliverable is a poster that’s “readable” for the average user (white middle-class male). Is there any use in designing for a surface-level change when the problem is deeply rooted within our society?

Iris: Inclusivity has always been important to me, as I spent a lot of my academic career trying to navigate the lack of it in many of the systems that govern our everyday life. In Systems last semester, we spent a lot of time looking for problems that occur within every level of a system, sometimes from unexpected sources. However, unlike Joseph, this makes me optimistic that through design thinking, we can become more conscientious of these biases built into everyday interactions, and while it might be impossible to design for full inclusivity, we can recognize the problem and begin to change.

Robson Square stairs, Vancouver

In conclusion, It was interesting to see that we responded differently to the same lectures and activities in terms of our personal practices, but agreed often on how a specific topic covered in this class can inform design as a whole.

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Joseph Kim

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