“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Foundations to IxD – Let’s start breaking the whole thing down

As many people who read this space know, I have recently taken a few courses in Industrial Design and was seriously considering going to graduate shcool in Industrial Design at the Pratt Institute. During my research of Pratt my professor recommended my reading a book about one of the primary faculty members who founded the department there. The book is called Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to understand a bit more about general design and a lot more about the design of 3-D form. The reason though I bring it up here is because it was the first time I was introducted to the concept that there is a foundation, a base, from which a design discipline needs to be explored. That there is also an educational process for exploring that base within a design process as opposed to a pedagogical process.

My question here is whether or not there can be such a detailed and base set of foundational elements for Interaction Design. I have done a small bit of research and it doesn’t seem like there is an understanding of of this in the few areas of the world that have IxD programs.

Well, like the title suggests, I’m just beginning here and I’d like to do it in a space that people can work with me on. So I’m hoping this thread will generate more comments than usual. But first I feel I need to explain more of what I mean by a “foundation”.

According to Rowena Reed there are 6 elements that make up the foundation to 3-D form: line, luminence & color, space, volume, negative space, texture (not exactly right, I lent my copy out and don’t have it off the top of my head). But what is more important than the qualities that make up the foundation of 3-D form is that way students and practitioners learned to master them. Students in studio would work on 1 element of the foundation at a time, iterating pieces based on instructor original direction and repeated critique, so that all 3 aspects of creativity were worked together: craft (muscle memory), theory (information to guide), perception (knowing how it should be). You can translate these to any creative endeavor, such as music: playing the notes, knowing the information to understand scales, harmony, rhythm, melody, and finally knowing what it should all sound like.

So to start here, I’d like to hope that people can offer me a list of elements that they feel make up the world of Interaction Design. I see 3 areas that we will need to proceed through:

  1. Recognizing them – just separating them out from each other and from other disciplines
  2. Defining them – creating a definitions that are generic enough to not pigeon-hole IxD into only one medium (i.e. I am not ONLY talking about compter software)
  3. Teaching them – creating a pedagogy around them. My personal goal is to make sure that such a system is not only academic but also available in the apprentiship model.
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  • http://www.odannyboy.com Dan Saffer

    Time. Actions (inputs). Feedback. Space.

    The book you mentioned was the first book I read in grad school. One of my professors, Craig Vogel, was a disciple of Reed’s. (She started at CMU…)


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