About Design Through Public


Design researchers within the field of reflective and thus critical design and experiences expressed there need for new objective ways to evaluate the reactions of the users towards their designs. Since reflective design practices and theory is fairly young compared to the conducted research in user-product experiences, it can be fruitful to see where reflective design can build upon the findings within user-product experiences. For example, well-established evaluation methods such as PrEmo or the Geneva Emotion Wheel can be applied in an early stage of the design process of reflective design. This way, the reaction can be provoked in the exploratory phase and evaluated with metrics. In addition, using the preliminary findings of the biometric data (for example IRT, emotion recognition using facial expressions) might create an unconscious interaction between the users -public- and the designers which hopefully sparks the needed conversation.

Interested in the report?

The theory behind Design Through Public

Participate in the game!

Do you want to create a bright future together with designers? Or do you just want to take a look? Start playing the game now by clicking on the button below!

Happy sharing!

Point and share!

The game Point and share is designed to evaluate user experiences of the video and animation footage. The player is introduced to a new future vision about our society. This future vision is randomly chosen out of our database and each one addresses a different topic. While the player is watching the footage, fourteen characters are visualized on top of the footage. By clicking on the character, the player indicates the emotional state he or she founds him- herself in. The characters can be turned on and off whenever the player feels like. 

Data collecting

Each time a player identifies him- herself with a certain emotion by clicking on the character, the character and accompanying timestamp of the video is saved. This way designers can evaluate which frame or scenario of their future vision provokes what kind of emotion of the players. All collected emotions and timestamps are visualized in a graph that every designer can consult at any time.

The characters used in this game are designed by Pieter Desmet and are a part of the well-proven user evaluation method: PrEmo. If you are interested in the research behind PrEmo or you want to use it for your own project, we would like you to redirect you to their website. Click here to get more information about PrEmo.

The characters

Laurans, G., & Desmet, P.M.A. (2017). Developing 14 animated characters for non-verbal self-report of categorical emotions. Journal of Design Research, 15(3/4), 214-233.

Participate in the game!

Do you want to create a bright future together with designers? Or do you just want to take a look? Start playing the game now by clicking on the button below!

Happy sharing!

The Airport Trolley

“We created the Airport Trolley as an attempt to overcome the testing limitations that came with the outbreak of COVID-19. We originally set out to probe the user’s trust in context-aware products, and were planning on doing physical tests. We believed a worthwhile user test, by letting users interact with a context-aware (or smart) product, should have two necessary factors: the physical presence of the product and the freedom of interaction of the user. While trying to adapt to the abnormal circumstances, we came to the conclusion that digitally probing the physical presence of a product would be completely impossible. We therefore started focusing on achieving the other necessary factor: freedom of interaction.
Inspired by Netflix’s Bandersnatch, we set out to create an interactive video, where depending on the choices of interaction a user would make, he would come to different outcomes. We had a little bit of experience with 3d-modelling in Blender and coding in Java, so we wanted to start creating animations in Blender and code the interactivity in HTML and JavaScript. We slowly started realizing one problem however: we are not animators or software engineers, we are designers. We had spent more time on learning how to animate and code than on actually designing, which resulted in a design we weren’t fully satisfied with.

Relevance for designers

We believe digital probing in the form of an interactive video has a few important advantages over traditional physical probing. Some of these include no need for meeting up in person or the option to explore hard-to-test or even unrealistic ideas, as there are very few limitations to what can be animated. Two of the biggest drawbacks however, are the previously mentioned lack of physical presence of the product, as well as a relatively high prototyping threshold for designers, since most designers are not animators or software engineers either. While we cannot solve the first drawback, we can help with the second.

With the creation of this video, we have gathered valuable experience in how a designer can utilize an interactive video for their user test. We can help people who would like to try out similar probing techniques, and we’ll be writing a report about the possibilities, pros and cons, and accessibility issues for designers. If you’d like to get in contact, feel free to write either one of us.” – Tommaso and Joep Jan

Tommaso Braceschi: t.braceschi@student.tue.nl
Joep Jan Meerdink: j.j.meerdink@student.tue.nl

Feel, express and share!

Use your facial emotional expressions to share your opinions! The game consists of multiple rounds. During each round, a video or animation of future visions is presented. While you sit back and relax, your facial expressions raised by the video is captured. Share your opinion by just watching a video now!

Just so you know, we do not save any video footage of your face. We only gather your expression in numbers.

Coming soon!

Starting point

In the summer of 2018, I graduated from University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU, n.d.) with my graduation project: May I Ask You a Question? (fig. 8) which is now used as a starting point for this research. ‘May I ask you a question?’ bridges the gap between society and the designer concerning ethical issues towards innovations. A clear view arises by exposing the user of the installation to modern-day ethical dilemmas, criticizing the freedom of movement and responsibility of the designer as well as the user. By asking questions about for example self-driving cars, alcohol-free beer and the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare, awareness about the ethics of innovations by the user arises. It is often not possible to answer ethical questions in black and white. I however force the user, by means of a physical action, to answer the question and to choose between ‘black’ or ‘white’. A collaboration will be caused between our emotions or feelings (the Limbic system) and human rationality (driven by the Neocortex).

Within this work, I dare to expose my freedom as a designer to the society in my work. An unconscious interaction arises, resulting in a critical view of the frequently forgotten ethical behavior of the modern-day designer.

Over 1200 people have interacted with the installation in different settings (e.g. Dutch Design Week 2018, GOGBOT Festival, etc.) and shared their opinions. Although I am aware of the fact that the collected data is not scientific and is influenced by the audience of the attended festivals, it is worthy to analyze the data (graph 1). The main result is that most participants answered rather contradictorily. For example, one provides the designer a lot of freedom, but does not accept a designers’ moral considerations. Since the goal of the installation was not to provide answers but rather to create a podium for a dialog between the designer and the public, I believe the contradictory answers are unexpectedly fruitful to start the conversation.

HKU - HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. (n.d.). https://www.hku. nl/Home.htm 

Design practices

As the above described work suggests, design and art practices and theories are increasingly used to make us -society- think, raise awareness, provoke action, spark debate, expose assumptions (Dunne and Raby, 2001) . Dunne and Raby introduced the term “critical design” in order to describe this phenomenon. Although the adaption of critical design “seems surprisingly limited” (Bardzell and Bardzell, 2013) within the HCI community, there is a need for the use of design practices -like critical design- to “enrich and expand our experience of everyday life” (Dunne and Raby, 2001). Bardzell et al. added “we see benefit in shedding light on critical design as an approach… Doing so will increase the dissemination of this relevant design approach and also broaden participation in effecting social change through design, which is what we all want.” (Bardzell et al., 2012). The need for such design approaches, which enables reflection for both the users and the designer, is highlighted even stronger by Sengers et al. as they conclude: “the value of reflection for HCI goes beyond simply opening new options for designers. It can support new awareness and freedom for users as well. …. That is to say, technology design practices should support both designers and users in ongoing critical reflection about technology and its relationship to human life.” (Sengers et al., 2005). Sengers et al., stressed the need for this “ongoing critical reflection” even further as they call it “a crucial element of a socially responsible technology design practice.” and later on “an essential component of socially responsible technology design” which led them toward a new approach “reflective design”. 

This new term can be seen as an umbrella which contains several different design practices in which reflection is key. These design practices are enumerated in the “foundations of reflective design”; Participatory design (Muller and Khun, 1993), Value- Sensitive design (Friedman, 1996), Critical design and Ludic design (Chirumamilla and Pal, 2013). In addition, Sengers et al., presented six principles of reflective design (Sengers et al., 2005): 

  1. Designers should use reflection to uncover and alter the limitations of design practice. 
  2. Designers should use reflection to re-understand their own role in the technology design process. 
  3. Designers should support users in reflecting on their lives.
  4. Technology should support skepticism about and reinterpretation of its own working.
  5. Reflection is not a separate activity from action but is folded into it as an integral part of experience.
  6. Dialogic engagement between designers and users through technology can enhance reflection.

Since many researchers have tried to define “critical design”, or broader “reflective design”, as a design practice and theory, this study will not focus on defining it further. Instead, this study focuses on creating tools for designers as well as the public to start the -in my opinion- the needed conversation. One would expect that tools for this design practice are already defined. Unfortunately, as pointed out by Bardzell and Bardzell, the literature regarding this practice “remains too undeveloped to offer the practical support needed for its broader uptake; … not by decoding whatever Dunne and Raby might have meant, but by actively and creatively developing critical design …” (Bardzell and Bardzell, 2013). In other words, there are no written guidelines that designers can follow. We -the HCI community- need to actively seek for creative ways to develop an understanding in addressing and assessing the design practices. However, as concluded by Bradzell and Bardzell also conclude that HCI researchers do not know how to. It is seen, among other things, this resulted in “people simply discounting the design as ridiculous or extreme but without examining why” (Sengers et al., 2005). 

In addition to the researchers that do not know how to apply the practice, I believe that the medium in which the reflective design is presented plays a tremendous role. Often, designs are presented at conventions, festivals, social media and even art fairs and designers tend to remain in the background in order to not influence the results, which is understandable. On the contrary, this placement of the design and behaviour of the designer rather creates a monologue instead of the wanted dialogue. In other words, the provoked reaction of the user is not measured in any way. 

As Bardzell and Bardzell learned during their study; before placing the designs in the field, it is “important to assess the provocativeness” first (Bardzell and Bardzell, 2013). Furthermore, the vocabulary of “breakthroughs” and “breakdowns” is used in order to conclude whether a design succeeded or failed. Although I understand the desire to create guidelines of success and failure, in my opinion the need to classify reflective designs to be good or not is a misconception of the purpose of the design. I believe, in reflective designs, there are no good or bad but only wrong expectations of the reactions. Once a reaction is provoked, the design fulfills its goal, which does not mean that the goals of the designer are reached as well. In addition, assessing reflective design depends highly on the ability of correct judgment of the designers and the expression capability of the users. Therefore, Sengers et al. expressed the desire to have ‘objective’ ways to conduct less time consuming and high efficient methods of evaluation in such a way that it is measurable in metrics (Sengers et al., 2005). Bardzell et al. looked further and saw opportunities in game evaluation methods (Bardzell et al., 2012), for example Nelson and Stolterman game play testing (Nelson and Stolterman, 2003). 

Bardzell, J., & Bardzell, S. (2013). What is “critical” about critical design? Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’13. https://doi. org/10.1145/2470654.2466451 
Blythe, M. A., Overbeeke, K., Monk, A. F., & Wright, P. C. (2006). Funology: From Usability to Enjoyment. Springer Science & Business Media. 
Chirumamilla, P., & Pal, J. (2013). Play and power. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development Full Papers - ICTD ’13 - volume 1. https://doi.org/10.1145/2516604.2516628 
Dunne, A., and Raby, F. (2001). Design Noir:The Secret Life of Electronic Objects. Birkhäuser. p. 147 
Friedman, B. (1996). Value-sensitive design. interactions, 3(6), 16– 23. https://doi.org/10.1145/242485.242493 
Muller, M. J., & Kuhn, S. (1993). Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36(6), 24–28. https://doi. org/10.1145/153571.255960
Nelson H. & Stolterman, E. The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World. New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications, 2003.
Sengers, P., Boehner, K., David, S., & Kaye, J. “Jofish”. (2005). Reflective design. Proceedings of the 4th decennial conference on Critical computing between sense and sensibility - CC ’05. https:// doi.org/10.1145/1094562.1094569

User experiences

As Bardzell and Bardzell defined this design practice as “a more challenging view of human needs and experience” (Bardzell and Bardzell, 2013), I found it a natural next step to conduct further research in these experiences and how they are currently evaluated within the HCI community. In 1999, the first edition of the International Conference on Design & Emotion was organized, which can be seen as the start of a new way of understanding the relation between emotion and design. Since that event, a lot of research has been done in order to explore the relation between emotion and design and how they interact with each other. Mostly, the aim of these research is to generate grip on how to design for emotions. In my opinion, we might even conclude that the outcome of the conducted research provides tools for designers. 

There are three levels of product experiences according to Hekkert: aesthetic pleasure, attribution of meaning, and emotional response (Hekkert, 2006). Product experience can thus be defined as “the entire set of affects that is elicited by the interaction between a user and a product, including the degree to which all our senses are gratified (aesthetic experience), the meanings we attach to the product (experience of meaning) and the feelings and emotions that are elicited (emotional experience)” (Hekkert, 2006, p. 160). In addition, Desmet and Hekkert questioned why usability is not included as a fourth level of product experience (Desmet and Hekkert, 2007). They explain that usability is not a level of product experience since usability is not an affective experience. Thus, usability can be considered as a source of product experience which generates and influences all three levels of product experience. 

As Wright et al. describe, engaging in experiences is a process of sense making. “This process of sensemaking is reflexive and recursive.” (Blythe et al., 2006). So in order to build on this reflexive and recursive process, we first need to understand the experience of use. To do so, McCarthy and Wright introduced a framework to make sense of experience (McCarthy and Wright, 2004). As part of this framework, they found four intertwined threads of experience: compositional, sensual emotional and spatio-temporal thread. The compositional thread can be seen as the consequences and explanations of actions, the action possibility and plausibility. The sensual thread describes our sensory engagement in the interaction and raises emotions such as thrill, fear and excitement. Anger, frustration, joy, disappointment, etc. are included in the emotional thread. The spatio-temporal thread concerns about the time and place in which an event unfolds. Next to the threads, six sense making processes: anticipating, connecting, interpreting, reflecting, appropriating and recounting are added to the framework by McCarthy and Wright. 

Bardzell, J., & Bardzell, S. (2013). What is “critical” about critical design? Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’13. https://doi. org/10.1145/2470654.2466451 
Blythe, M. A., Overbeeke, K., Monk, A. F., & Wright, P. C. (2006). Funology: From Usability to Enjoyment. Springer Science & Business Media. 
Desmet, P. M. A., & Hekkert, P. (2007). Framework of Product Experience. International Journal of Design, 1(1), 13-23. 
Hekkert, P. (2006). Design aesthetics: Principles of pleasure in product design. Psychology Science, 48(2), 157-172. 
McCarthy, J. and Wright, P. Technology as experience. interactions 11, 5 (2004), 42–43. 

Assessing experiences

Even though there is already a large amount of research conducted to understand and analyze experiences, I believe there are still missed opportunities. As written by Desmet and Hekkert, “Design researchers traditionally rely on self-report methods (verbal & non-verbal questionnaires) for the measurement of user experience/ emotions.” (Desmet and Hekkert, 2009). While reading different (above mentioned) researches, I noticed that not all researchers describe an emotion with the same parameters resulting in a vague definition of expressed emotions and thus the results of the researches might be questioned. In addition, the open-ended structure of the asked questions within the used methods to assess experiences is also a limitation. “When asked about the feelings and properties associated with pleasurable and displeasurable products, respondents may have found that some responses came to mind more easily than others and that some were more easy than others to articulate.” (Jordan, 1998). In other words, the accuracy of the given answers is low since not all participants of the study articulate their feelings in the same way. 

According to Jordan, users experience emotions associated with pleasurable and displeasurable not only before and after usage, but also during the use of the product (Jordan, 1998). Although this seems very obvious, there is still a lack in research of the experience during usage. Methods (such as PrEmo (Measure Consumer Emotions & Product Experience, n.d.) ) are currently used to focus only on the phase before and after the interaction with a product. 

Within the above-mentioned research, I noticed two missed opportunities when it comes to the assessment of experiences. Firstly, experiences are captured and analyzed in a subjective way resulting in inaccurate results due to the interpretation of both participants and researchers. Secondly, experiences are mainly assessed before and after an interaction instead of during the interaction. With these observations I agree with Jenkins saying: “There is a need for design researchers to move beyond the limitations of subjective interpretations of ‘design and emotion’ and explore the use of new tools and multi-modal methods in the objective measurement of human experience.“ (Jenkins et al., 2009). Furthermore, there is a need for robust and statistical methods to create an understanding of user-product interactions. 

Also according to Jenkins, this requires “instruments that enable capture of the richness and dynamics of product experiences.” (Jenkins et al., 2009) In that same paper, Jenkins already explores the possible role of IRT (Infrared Thermography) techniques to conduct design research offering an alternative for self-report methods. The need for more, high-quality data on user experiences is also highlighted by Rasmussen et al. (Rasmussen et al., 2012). 

I believe there is a great potential for using metrics (such as IRT) to analyse user-product interactions. As written by Golfarelli, people use metrics to set up standards upon which judgements and choices can be made (Golfarelli et al., 2004). Wu found that with the help of devices which generate insights in our metrics, “people are empowered as they can take control of their own life.” (Wu et al., 2018). 

In conclusion, both design researchers within the field of reflective (thus critical) design and experiences expressed there need for new objective ways to evaluate the reactions of the users towards their objects. Since reflective design practices and theory is fairly young compared to the conducted research in user-product experiences, I can be fruitful to see where reflective design can build upon the findings within user-product experiences. For example, well established evaluation methods such as PreMO (fig. 9) or the Geneva Emotion Wheel (fig. 10) can be applied in an early stage of the design process of reflective design. This way, the reaction can be provoked in the exploratory phase and evaluated with metrics. In addition, using the preliminary findings of the biometric data (for example IRT, emotion recognition using facial expressions) might create an unconscious interaction between the users -public- and the designers which hopefully sparks the needed conversation. 

Blaiech, H., Neji, M., Wali, A., & Alimi, A. M. (2013). Emotion recognition by analysis of EEG signals. 13th International Conference on Hybrid Intelligent Systems (HIS 2013). https://doi. org/10.1109/his.2013.6920451 
Desmet, P. (n.d.). Premo | Pieter Desmet. Retreived form https:// studiolab.ide.tudelft.nl/studiolab/desmet/premo/ 
Desmet, P. M. A., & Hekkert, P. (2009). Special issue editorial: Design & emotion. International Journal of Design, 3(2), 1-6. 
Golfarelli, M., Rizzi, S. and Cella, I. (2004) Beyond Data Warehousing: What’s Next in Business Intelligence? Proceedings of the 7th ACM International Workshop on Data Warehousing and OLAP, Washington DC, 2004, 1-6. https://doi. org/10.1145/1031763.1031765 
Huisman, G., van Hout, M., van Dijk, E., van der Geest, T., & Heylen, D. (2013). LEMtool. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’13. https://doi. org/10.1145/2470654.2470706 
Jenkins, S. D., Brown, R. D. H., & Rutterford, N. (2009). Comparing thermographic, EEG, and subjective measures of affective experience during simulated product interactions. International Journal of Design, 3(2), 53-65. 
Jordan, P. W. (1998). Human factors for pleasure in product use. In Applied Ergonomics (Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 25–33). https://doi. org/10.1016/s0003-6870(97)00022-7 
Measure Consumer Emotions & Product Experience. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2020, from https://www.premotool.com 
Rasmussen, M. K., Pedersen, E. W., Petersen, M. G., & Hornbæk, K. (2012). Shape-changing interfaces. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’12. https://doi.org/10.1145/2207676.2207781 

Motivation and vision

Wiebe Audenaerd

Motivation and vision to start Design Through Public

I believe a designer is the public watchdog that always sets the evolvement of the society at the very top. I envision designers to be responsible to introduce society to new forms of technological development that will have effect on more people than just the buyer or user of the invention. Self Driving autonomous cars are a profound example of this kind of innovation since these machines operate within public places. Forming an opinion about innovations that will change the world is not complicated and can be done by everyone as long as there are means to react upon. It is the task of the designer to design and present these means to spark the -in my opinion- needed dialogue between designers and the public. However, starting this conversation is not as easy as it may sound. The society does not know where and how they should share their opinion, even once their reaction is provoked. Furthermore, designers tend to only present fully developed visions and prototypes instead of ideas in the early stage of a design process. In addition, the environment in which the presentation of the design is currently taken place, is not embracing the dialogue but creates a certain distance. 

This stimulates me to start the movement Design Through Public. With the help of this movement,

I encourage all designers and the public to participate in the needed conversation about the future of the world. Let us combine the knowledge, expertise and skills of the designers with human beings in a very early phase of a design process.

Design Through Public stands for enabling design practices to make use of the public’s opinion without the need for detailed prototypes. Furthermore, designing through public enables the public to participate within the design process at the early stages. It is required that the practices that rise out of the movement will enter both design processes in early stages and -in a subtle way-society. This way, both design and society will strengthen instead of harming each other. 

The movement is not a guideline and will not force designers to limit their designs to please the public. In addition, the resulting dialogue is not meant to constrain the designer or the public in any way. I am aware of the fact that this movement might decrease the freedom of speech and work of designers in the long run. However, I do believe that reflecting on our role as a designer and accepting and building on the public’s opinion, within a fast-evolving world, is stronger than ignoring ethical norms and values by only pushing our own visions. In other words, there are no good and wrong answers and no consequences can arise. The only goal this movement and I endeavor for, is sparking the needed conversation. 

Design Through Public should not be confused with Public Design. Where Public Design focuses on designing products and services that will be placed within the public space, Design Through Public focusses on sparking the conversation, enabling experience evaluation and creates a podium for both designers and all layers of society to address (future) design challenges. 

I envision this movement to function as a stimulus and create direction for both designers and the public. Designers can make use of the movement by sharing their thoughts and examples with other designers.

Furthermore, the movement will also function as a database which a designer can consult to find out how the public is reacting on certain topics described within the HCI community. 

To reach the public, this movement and its design practice needs to enter society in a very subtle way. I believe, to query all layers of society, an unconscious interaction within daily practices of the public has to take place. To do so, we can be inspired by other designers and their designs. In my opinion there are a lot of ways to spark debate and gather reactions (e.g. physical products, audio, animations, video, gamification, etc.). Figure 1 – 4 are examples of designs which sparks this debate, create awareness and let the public think. For example, the reaction about human-like robots in our society is provoked by the game Detroit: Become Human (fig. 1). Reflective reactions about our own body and technology used in the healthcare sector are provoked by BNN’s television show: De Grote Donorshow (fig. 2) (translated: The Big Donor Show) and Netflix’ Black Mirror (fig. 3) uses video to create (absurd) future scenarios to let the public reflect upon. Later on, Netflix launched a new version of Black Mirror called Bandersnatch (fig. 4) which enabled the spectator to influence the story based on its own ethical values and norms. 

Abrahams, R. (2017, May 25). Reconstructie: De Grote Donorshow. https://delagarde.nl/reconstructie-de-grote-donorshow 
Bouma, B. (2015, 6 november). Voedselpolitie adviseert meer thee: nu met bonus. http://www.hiddenvalues.nl/voedselpolitie-adviseert-meer-thee-nu-met-bonus
Jobson, C. (2017, August 17). Traffic Light That Lets You Play Pong with Person on the Other Side Officially Installed in Germany. Retreived from https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/12/traffic-light-that-lets-you-play-pong-with-person-on-the-other-side-officially-installed-in-germany/ 
Netflix. (2011). Black Mirror | Officiële Netflix-site. https://www. netflix.com/nl/title/70264888 
Netflix. (2018). Black Mirror: Bandersnatch | Officiële Netflix-site. https://www.netflix.com/nl/title/80988062
Peppers, B. M. (2014, March 13). The bus stop that only heats up if you hold hands. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/ article-2580327/A-bus-stop-heats-hold-hands-Shelter-powered-electrical-circuit-activated-human-connection.html 
Playstation. (2018). Detroit: Become Human. Retreived from https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/detroit-become-human-ps4/ 
Urban Invention. (n.d.). URBAN INVENTION | URBAN INVENTION – Invent the urban place. Retreivend from http://urban-invention. com