inclusive design

Rip and Mix at Glasgow Caledonian University

Rip and Mix is a creative process. It is a tool that enables you to come up with lots of ideas very quickly. It is a very visual way of working and highlights that starting with user needs is not the only approach to innovation. The tricky bit is sketching ideas very quickly and intuitively. This month I spent an afternoon running  a workshop on Rip and Mix with design students at Glasgow Caledonian University. In the past I have used this method to design communication products and services for the elderly - ripping and mixing communication products used by a wide range of stakeholders with communication products specifically designed for the elderly. I have used this tool addressing the question "How can we reduce waiting times in NHS surgeries?" - ripping and mixing products and services focused on time and the passing of time with various health services and other services that require 'waiting' such as the theatre...

The students have been working on semiotics and affordance so for this workshop I decided to work around cash machines for the visually impaired - ripping and mixing all products designed for visually impaired people and all products and services around retrieving finance (ranging from physical money to intangible information )

This worked really well as it had a good balance of product / interactive / 3D elements - hence catering for all the disciplines who were there:

"For example, a drawing of a three-dimensional button on a computer screen leverages our knowledge of the physical characteristics of the buttons and, therefore, appears to afford pressing. The popular 'desktop' metaphor used by computer operating systems is based on this idea - images of common items like trash cans and folders leverage our knowledge of how those items function in the real world and thus, suggest their function in a software environment. Mimic familiar objects and environments in abstract contexts to imply the way in which new systems can be used."

You can see photos of the workshops here.

One workshop was held in an bright, open plan  room whereas in the other we were confined to room filled with computers. This had a huge impact on the energy of the group.  I got asked questions about 'stakeholders' and what that really means. I also got asked to explain the meaning of 'sensual and emotional form' ... this is something that I always use real life examples to explain.

This workshop was about quantity rather than quality and teaching the students how to 'let go' and not be so precious about their ideas. I will be uploading the main ideas generated soon so you will be able to see what elements the students ripped and mixed to come up with new solutions.

Here is some feedback from Dave Wood, a lecturer in Digital Design at Glasgow Caledonia University.

"Lauren's (SNOOK's) Rip and Mix workshop was just what my year 1 and 2 undergraduate design students needed. It enabled them to move out of their design comfort zones and propose, through sketching, twenty ideas each on a design problem. The technique utilises semiotics which really helped the students understand the importance of visual analysis. It was fun, energetic, engaging and above all useful. At a post-workshop de-brief the vast majority of students said they would use the technique in the future on a variety of design problems - product, interactive and 3D.  Not one student reacted negatively to the technique - and those who were initially unsure began to see the relevance after the workshop. Overall it was a fantastic opportunity that I'd like to build into next year's curriculum again."

If you would like Snook to come and talk to your students or class mates about Rip and Mix then please do get in touch!

Inclusive Design event

'Designs on a Bigger Market' is taking place on the 2nd February at the BT Tower in London, and aims to set out the business case for inclusive design to designers, manufacturers, retailers, service providers and organisations representing business interests, and provide practical advice through workshops. People wishing to attend can sign up here - it’s a free event although numbers are limited due to space at the Tower.

Session 1: Why inclusive design is important for business

Speakers will cover what inclusive design is, the business case, views of designers and businesses as well as an understanding of the ageing population.

Session 2: Inclusive design in practice

The afternoon will be run by Cambridge University and will introduce the inclusive design toolkit. Delegates will take part in hands-on exercises about how to get started with inclusive design (numbers are restricted).

The overall aim is to encourage more businesses to start adopting the principles of inclusive design in 2010.

As part of the event, BT is hosting a roundtable at which key thinkers on this subject from across academic, public sector and commercial backgrounds will discuss the business case for inclusive design.  In particular the debate will look to explore why, despite the fact that the British Standard for inclusive design was introduced five years ago, there are still barriers preventing it going mainstream.

The debate will explore:

  • The challenges in taking inclusive design 'mainstream'
  • Getting internal buy-in within an organisation
  • Legal/regulatory imperatives for inclusive design vs. commercial benefits
  • Current and future demand (including demographic trends and consumer demands which could influence this)
  • The role that inclusion could play in an organisation's sustainability programme

Speakers have been invited from a range of sectors, and include:

  • Jeremy Myerson, Director Helen Hamlyn Centre, RCA
  • Jeremy Lindley, former Head of Design at Tesco, now Global Design Director, Diageo
  • Jonathan Hassell, Head of audience experience and usability, BBC
  • David Sindall, Head of Disability and Inclusion for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC)
  • Alan Topalian, Co-ordinator of the BSI drafting committee (managing inclusive design) and Principal of consultancy, Alto  Design Management
  • Professor John Clarkson, specialist in inclusive design, University of Cambridge

I am disappointed I had to say no to my invitation to the roundtable as I am attending an event with MyPolice that day but it looks interesting. The organisers have offered to keep me in the loop with the happenings of the event so keep an eye out for the outcomes.