Democratic Design Engagements

Can design for the masses be democratic? - An alternative view on  innovation success
By: Pelle Ehn, Malmö University

The Bauhaus manifestos proclaimed design to be democratic. The furniture company IKEA literally made “democratic design” a corporative trademark. In an era of crowdsourcing and fabrication laboratories the user is declared king and innovation democratised. But can we today with any trustworthiness talk about this as democratic design engagements?
This keynote address is an attempt to re-define design and innovation in the light of democratic engagement. This endeavour is grounded in participatory design practices. The focus is on democratic design experiments as future-making practices that are neither user-centred nor object-oriented, but interpret design practice as both parliament and laboratory.

Pelle Ehn, is a professor at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University, Sweden. He has committed four decades in the field of research on participatory planning and design. His research projects include: DEMOS from the seventies on information technology and work, UTOPIA eighties on user participation, and during the last years MALMÖ LIVING LABS, design workshops for social innovation. His publications include "Computers and Democracy" (1987, Aldershot, England), Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts (1988, Stockholm, Arbetslivscentrum), Manifesto for a Digital Bauhaus (1998).


Mascha van der Voort is Associate Professor and head of the research group on Use Anticipation in Product Design at the University of Twente. This research group focusses on supporting designers in eliciting real user needs, sharing use and user-related knowledge within their design team and designing products that meet user needs and expectations. Acknowledgement of the use related expertise of each stakeholder is key to a user-centered design process. To engage users in the design process and facilitate level exchange of use-related knowledge, scenario-based and participatory design approaches and tools are developed that frequently incorporate techniques as workshops, gaming and virtual reality.


Embedded User Engagement

By: Christian Suurmeijer, Benchmark Electronics

More companies realize the importance of user engagement; VOC visits are becoming increasingly popular. Developers need to fully understand the customer to deliver products and services with the best customer experience.

But how do they act upon this insight? How do they balance usability, functionality and cost? Are they able to embed user engagement in their development process? How do we ensure usability becomes part of our everyday routine, like powering up your computer?

Christian Suurmeijer started designing complex professional devices at Fluke Corporate Design, were he learned the importance of strategic user centered design approach. He is using his strength of visualization and prototyping to serve various international clients in the high tech medical and industrial markets. Last 8 years he worked at Benchmark Electronics as a Lead Industrial Interaction Designer. In cross functional teams he is always trying to look beyond, still balancing technology, cost and usability.

Christian Peter Suurmeijer, Groningen, 29 Oktober 1968, now lives together with wife and 2 children in Amersfoort.


Make more use of user testing!

By: Tom Evers, D’Andrea & Evers Design

How can we improve the needs of user testing in the product development process? How can we convince our customers?

Interesting example is the environment of design for elderly. There is a big transition going on in the field of care products and services.

The marketing and the product development have to focus now on the individual consumer instead of the health organisations.

Here’s created a need of user testing. Not only by functional aspects, but even more important, emotional acceptation.

Tom is the owner of D'Andrea & Evers Design, a design office with 15 employees, specialized in connecting design to innovative products. The company has started in 1992 and has created a broad port-folio since. We have experience in consumer products, interior products, machines and appliances, medical products, interior design; packaging and visualizations.

Specialties: Product design and user interface design. The combination of esthetic and technical skills, with feeling for the market, which guarantees good and successful products


Mind the Gap

By: Jos Thalen, Invocate

We founded Invocate with the aim to bridge the gap between new user engagement techniques emerging from research, and practical applications in industry. Even though companies are starting to see the importance of user engagement throughout a design process, user engagement techniques (unfortunately) still don't sell themselves. In my talk I'll present some of the challenges we face and cope with when engaging companies to adopt new design techniques.

Jos Thalen has a background in industrial design, but is also an avid animator, graphic desginer and software developer. After mixing these skills for his PhD research on "facilitating user centred design through virtual reality" in 2013, he left the University of Twente to co-found and work for Invocate. Invocate is a consultancy firm that helps clients to actively involve stakeholders in design or development processes, using design techniques such as co-design, gaming and virtual reality.


Regulatory expectations on user engagement for medical devices

By: Sonja Paus-Buzink, UL-Wiklund

The standard on ‘Application of usability engineering to medical devices’ (IEC62366) is used as guidance by regulatory authorities worldwide. Sonja will discuss the user engagement activities manufacturers of medical devices are expected to conduct in order to meet this standard.

Research activities at UL-Wiklund include observational research of, and conducting interviews, focus groups, and usability tests with representative device users. The work on product and system evaluation ranges from quick-response product critiques to full-scale, product development human factors research programs, ensuring conformance with the expectations set forth in key documents by regulatory authorities.

Sonja works as Managing Human Factors specialist at UL-Wiklund, a global independent human factors consulting group specializing in human factors engineering (HFE) with a focus on medical technology.

Research activities at UL-Wiklund include observational research of, and conducting interviews, focus groups, and usability tests with representative device users. Our product and system evaluation work ranges from quick-response product critiques to full-scale, product development human factors research programs ensuring conformance with the expectations set forth in key documents by regulatory authorities like the FDA.

In her presentation at the World Usability Day 2014 symposium, Sonja will discuss user engagement activities manufacturers of medical devices are expected to conduct to meet IEC62366, the standard on ‘Application of usability engineering to medical devices’ used as guidance by regulatory authorities worldwide.

Before joining UL-Wiklund in 2013, Sonja worked as Assistant Professor and post-doctoral researcher within TU Delft’s Medisign group where she also obtained her PhD on improving patient safety in image-based surgical procedures.



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