Academic journal article International Journal of Design

A Systematic Analysis of Mixed Perspectives in Empathic Design: Not One Perspective Encompasses All

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

A Systematic Analysis of Mixed Perspectives in Empathic Design: Not One Perspective Encompasses All

Article excerpt

Introduction

The work presented in this paper is set up in the context of empathic design, in particular design for people in mourning situations. It seems almost a truism to say that designing for a situation as delicate, emotional, and complex as mourning demands that the designer is able to build empathy and (com)passion with the people and context at stake. In building empathy with stakeholders in the design process, it is important for designers to approach the problem from multiple perspectives and values in order to understand how diverse individuals experience and go through such rituals (e.g., mourning). Of particular concern in this paper is the question of how designers can utilize their own feelings, intuitions, and experiences in the design process. Especially in design projects that require great sensitivity on the part of the designer (e.g., empathic design), the wise application of this first-person perspective may be a major contributor to the design outcomes. Therefore, we aim to provide designers and coaches of design students with a way to design for and with others and within user situations by deliberately using perspective transitions and clusters in different phases of design processes.

Various scholars have proposed design methods that bring relevance to and support design with users (Dandavate, Sanders, & Stuart, 1996; Ehn, 2008; Fulton Suri, 2003; Koskinen & Battarbee, 2003; Mattelmäki & Battarbee, 2002; Mattelmäki & Sleeswijk Visser, 2011; Sleeswijk Visser, Stappers, van der Lugt, & Sanders, 2005). Methods and tools for building empathy with users are part of design traditions such as user-centered design (UCD), human-centered design (HCD), participatory design (PD), and co-design (Co-D). Yet, this body of knowledge focuses almost exclusively on utilizing user perspectives and user contact to inform design decisions, while design can (and implicitly does) also build on designers' own personal experiences, feelings, and emotions from within the design context. Although it is well known that designers implicitly base design decisions on their own experiences, feelings, and emotions, the specific utility, legitimacy, and validity of the first-person perspective in design is insufficiently understood and recognized (Cross, 2001; Zhang & Wakkary, 2014).

Despite a growing recognition of this lacuna in the literature, few authors have proposed practical solutions and guidance for designers. One exception is found in Tomico, Winthagen, and van Heist's (2012) argument for an explicit application of several basic design perspectives, including the designer's first-person perspective. That paper is a key inspiration for this study. Since the three individual perspective definitions in that paper built on a single design case, we will provide more elaborate descriptions and a structured overview of related literature to complement these definitions in the next section. In addition, this overview will help specify how the three basic perspectives can be mixed in valuable ways. In the next section, we will introduce three theories that support the expansion of our understanding of the perspectives introduced by Tomico et al. (2012).

This paper is organized in three main sections. In the first section, we will review related work to provide a structured overview of existing literature on perspectives and to motivate our case study analysis. Next, we will present the case study. We will provide a detailed analysis of the design processes of four junior designers who tackled the problem of designing intelligent products for mourning. This analysis will give insights into the utilization and specific value of first-, second-, and third-person perspectives in these projects. In addition, we will identify, specify, and discuss the specific value of perspective transitions. Then we will highlight how perspective clusters might give guidance to empathic design. Finally, we will present our conclusions and discuss the impact of perspectives (including mixed-perspectives) on empathic design research and practice. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.