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A text by Danielle Arets (associate Reader DAE, critical design research, journalism)


“A mindboggling experience”, and “an intense learning curve” and “a great opportunity to get to know what else you can do in the word with design” , these were some statements of the students of the  research minor “You are in my system” after returning from their fieldtrip to Bangalore last week.

In the minor course, students employ a research through design approach towards system design. Using probes and the camera as a research tool, they try to unravel complicated smart systems, in The Netherlands and India. What can we learn from countries such as India, where human driven systems of a large scale and precision demonstrate that technology need not permeate every aspect of our lives. For example, in Mumbai, some 200,000 home-cooked meals are transported daily with 5000 dabbawala’s (meaning “one who carries a box”) responsible for weaving their way through the metropolises complex network of railways trains and bicycles, delivering hot food directly from workers door to work and back again. Considering such examples, how might we as designers operate within complex systems to design meaningful human centered experiences? How might we reconfigure technological systems to bring back the human to reflect upon and tackle technological limitations?

With that question in mind, students embarked on a field trip to Bangalore, where we partnered with strategic design and innovation studio Quicksand, who welcomed the students and tutors in their Bangalore studio, where they got introduced to design research work in India. After that, we participated in a 2 day seminar organized with a host of partners: the IISC university department specialized in design and health, The Holland Innovation Network of the Dutch Consulate, Quicksand and the Mozilla Foundation. Speakers ranged widely across design practices, from academia (IISC) to industry (Mozilla), from student (DAE) to professional (Bosch), from tech (Mozilla) to design (Qucksand), and from small studio (STBY) to global company (Philips). This variety was much appreciated by the audience that also varied across these differences. DAE Reader Bas Raijmakers hosted the event, and connected the different speaker stories through guiding discussion and soliciting questions from the audience.
For the students, meeting fellow students of IISC after the event offered several new entrances for their research, appointments were made over cups of chai and spice Indian snacks. During the research days that followed the hostel staff effortly switched from organising their usual touristic trips for guests to helping students to organise their travel destinations for research. As a result remote villages and slums were as accessible as local schools and markets.

At the end of the week the students prepared their research for a 15 min presentation of the main documented stories to Quicksand Studio and each other. This resulted in an afternoon of great stories supported by diagrams, photos and film clips. These showed not only the many people and places the students managed to connect to, but also the considerate depth of understanding of the Indian systems they investigated.
The course is co-created with the Readership Strategic Creativity at Design Academy Eindhoven, the Mozilla foundation, design research agencies STBY (Londen, Amsterdam) and Quicksand (India).
Danielle Arets (associate Reader DAE, critical design research, journalism)
Mike Thompson (critical design research, analogue sensors, prototyping)
Isabelle Makay (ethnography, video mapping, visual research),
Bas Raijmaker (Reader DAE & creative director STBY,  documentary research)
Guest Tutors: Babitha George (Quicksand, ethnographic design research)
John Rogers (visiting professor Mozilla, research on a healthy internet of things, digital detox, meaningful futures)/ check:
Published: 05-Dec-2018 11:38


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  • You are in my Indian system - Design Research in Bangalore

  • You are in my Indian system - Design Research in Bangalore

  • You are in my Indian system - Design Research in Bangalore

  • You are in my Indian system - Design Research in Bangalore

  • You are in my Indian system - Design Research in Bangalore