A multidisciplinary framework for (teaching) human product relations

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
DS 62: Proceedings of E and PDE 2010, the 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - When Design Education and Design Research Meet, 2010, pp. 266 - 271
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In this paper we introduce a framework for dealing with the complexity of human-product relationships. The actual framework is a matrix of design perspectives, with three cooperating disciplines on the one hand and three levels of abstraction on the other hand. Basis of the framework is the notion that a product cannot be seen as stand alone, yet always is influenced by the user(s). Thus, according to philosopher Don Ihde [1], user and product together define the actual product (use). The framework was developed for an integrated course on human product relations with input from the research groups on Usability, Design Aesthetics, and Philosophy of Technology. The interaction (or relation) between the product and the user can be analyzed and influenced with the use of theory from these three disciplines. Therefore we discern "A human as a User", "A human as an Aesthetic", and "A human as a Consumer". From the philosophy of technology perspective (the human as a consumer) for instance, the theory of mediation and the ethics of influence of behaviour are used to analyze existing human product relations and create meaningful new ones. The three levels of abstraction within the framework concern interaction on an individual, a social and a societal level. Finally we discuss the implementation of this framework within education practice.
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