> Bill Moggridge at last weeks' Ivrea symposium indicated that interaction design is a sort of digital > industrial design (to Beth Mazur's earlier
point). Those who come from technology tend to look at
> it differently: as a series of interfaces and interactions with screens and layers of information.
Calling interaction design "digital industrial design" might be a useful
to help traditional designers feel more comfortable with it, but like most
it has significant limits. In this case, the core differentiator between
other design disciplines -- a focus on behavior before form -- is buried.
last saw Bill Moggridge speak at BayCHI a year or two ago, he defined
design as the design of look and feel of digital display surfaces: the
he gave was his design of the GRiD Compass (an early laptop) display. For
this definition literally only skims the surface.
I would define interaction design as the design of the behavior of artifacts
and secondarily the form that serves and embodies that behavior. Those
be digital, or might not. It just so happens that most artifacts and systems
behaviors complex enough to have significant interaction consideration are
those that include
digital computers in one form or another.
Why is this distinction so important?
Traditional design disciplines have historically been concerned with the
design of form, not
behavior. Form is typically static, and is usually easily palpable and
is dynamic, temporal, dependent on input, and inherently non-palpable. Form
visualization as a primary design tool, and assumes a working knowledge of
perception in context. Behavior relies on narrative as a primary design
tool, and assumes a
working knowledge of human behaviors in context. Although I believe that
many (if not all)
overarching high-level processes are shared between most design disciplines,
it's also my
belief that the specific methods and practices of the design of behavior
must by necessity
be somewhat different than those that traditionally deal with form alone,
and are not part
of the tradition of traditional design disciplines.
It is true that some of the more progressive industrial design programs are
coming around to the design of behavior as a distinct element of product
but this is still very much at the vanguard (as far as I can tell, at least
in in the US),
and does not represent a majority view in organizations such as IDSA.
disciplines are beginning to recognize that there is something different
"new" kinds of design problems, but as long as they try to shoehorn the
of behavior into traditional form-oriented models and methods, I'm afraid
that we will continue to
have a "blind men and elephant" approach to and understanding of interaction
However, on the bright side, as Kristoffer points out, it also means that
us from disparate design and other disciplines who *do* recognize the
differences between traditional design and the design of behavior bring an
diversity of skill and perspective to the problem. IntD has many roots in
disciplines, and that is both its strength and (when it comes to
explaining themselves and the field to the rest of the world with a single
its Achilles' Heel.
All that said, I agree with Beth Mazur that the best way to take interaction
into the mainstream is to reach out to, affiliate with, and educate the
It's interesting to note that in Italy, industrial and product design sprang
from architecture. (Until recently, it wasn't possible to study these things
separately from them.) I also have heard but can't verify that Italy
graduates 10,000 architecture students each year. Bill Moggridge at last
weeks' Ivrea symposium indicated that interaction design is a sort of
digital industrial design (to Beth Mazur's earlier point). Those who come
from technology tend to look at it differently: as a series of interfaces
and interactions with screens and layers of information. Service design
comes out of industrial design (check out Ezio Manzini's work, for example),
but has a strong connection with architecture (think of the book "Cradle to
Cradle," of which one author is the former head of the University of
Virginia Architecture school).
Now finally, I'm realizing that maybe this is where all these different
views of interaction design come from. There's a difference, too, in how
it's defined in Europe versus in the US. And if we were really involving
Asian perspectives in this, it might look different yet again.
I tossed the above out to see what thoughts might emerge. Interesting that
some folks came back to defend the orgs. I surely wasn't suggesting that
these orgs should be consulting with us before moving forward.
There were some other topics that I hoped would emerge though:
1. Are these two disciplines, graphic and industrial design, the roots of
all design disciplines? Did they spawn from architecture?
2. Some of us are so distant from these organizations that they are
meaningless. Why is this so? As a result can they adequately speak for all
of design? Can design have one voice anyway?