Design Through Public

Why we value the publics’ opinion

Your opinion counts! Technology is changing rapidly these days resulting in the introduction of new innovative designs every single day. It is time to share our opinions about these innovations and help designers to create the future that we all want! With the help of your opinions, designers are able to quickly see the reaction of society and (re-)design their visions on the future.

Let’s share and start creating our future society together!

Design Through Public as a design tool

From idea to market can be a very long and time-consuming process. There are several design practices that designers use within their work but it all starts with a concept. Designers use to create prototypes of their concept and test it with potential users.

Design Through Public enables designers to globally interact in an early phase of design with both direct and indirect potential users resulting in a fast and easy way to gather user experiences and provoked emotions!

Do you want to use this tool and collaborate in this movement as a designer? Click here!

The games

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.

Proud to present: 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:
Joep Jan Meerdink:

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!

Coming soon!

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.

The theory behind 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?

Starting point

The initial reason why Design Through Public is started can be found in previous work of the author, Wiebe Audenaerd. In 2018, he graduated from the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU) with project: May I Ask You a Question? ‘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. Audenaerd, however, forces the user, by means of a physical action, to answer the question and to choose between ‘black’ or ‘white’.

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

May I Ask You a Question? was presented at different festivals (e.g. Dutch Design Week 2018, GOGBOT Festival, etc.) where it gathered provoked opinions about the innovations presented to the participant. 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, Audenaerd believes the contradictory answers are unexpectedly fruitful to start the conversation.

Design practices

This platform is not designed with the purpose to (re-)define design practices. Instead, this platform focuses on the tool that is created for designers and society to start the needed conversation about our future as a whole. Since this platform aims at presenting any form of reflective design to spark debate, it is necessary to understand the included design practices.

Design and art practices are increasingly used to make society think, raise awareness, provoke action, spark debate and expose assumptions. As a result, designers Dunne and Raby (2001) introduced the term “critical design”. In 2013, Bardzell and Bardzell (2013) concluded that the adaption of critical design within the Human-Computer Interaction HCI community seems rather surprisingly limited. Nevertheless, 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). 

In addition to critical design, Sengers et al., (2005) introduced a new approach: reflective design. This relatively new approach can be seen as an umbrella which contains several different designs 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). 

Currently, designers tend to present their critical, reflective work at conventions, festivals, social media which do not create the needed environment and tools to share the provoked opinions and emotions. This needs to change! 

Next to that, as written by the above-mentioned researchers, it is important to asses the provocativeness first before placing the designs in the field. Sengers et al. (2005) expressed the need for measurable metrics in order to evaluate user experiences.

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 

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. 

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. 

Muller, M. J., & Kuhn, S. (1993). Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36(6), 24–28. https://doi. org/10.1145/153571.255960 

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://

User experiences

As Bardzell and Bardzell defined this design practice as “a more challenging view of human needs and experience” (Bardzell and Bardzell, 2013), it is a natural step to conduct further research in these experiences and how they are currently evaluated.
According to Hekkert (2006), there are three levels of product experiences: aesthetic pleasure, attribution of meaning, and emotional response. 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. 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.

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, Audenaerd believes 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). It is noticed that not all researchers and designers describe an emotion with the same parameters resulting in a vague definition of expressed emotions. As described by Jordan (1998), the accuracy of the given answers by participants of a study is low since not all participants of a study articulate their feelings in the same way.

There are multiple evaluation methods available to assess user experiences. Great examples of these methods are LEMtool by Huisman (2013), Geneva Emotion Wheel by Blaiech (2013) and PrEmo by Desmet. Although these methods are widely used by designers, Audenaerd sees two missed opportunities. 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.

“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). The need for more, high-quality data on user experiences is also highlighted by Rasmussen et al. (Rasmussen et al., 2012).

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. M. A., & Hekkert, P. (2007). Framework of Product Experience. International Journal of Design, 1(1), 13-23. 

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 

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. 

The motivation

Wiebe Audenaerd

Motivation 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. 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 stand for enabling design practices to make use of the public’s opinion without the need of 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 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.