In February 2013 Defne Koz and I presented our vision for working spaces of the future at the Alldesign Conference in Istanbul, under the topic nature>evolved. We imagined a completely flexible space, with minimal furniture that can be reconfigured to define private spaces or large, collaborative open spaces. Chairs can become walls, walls become screens, screens become tables. The entire space takes full advantage of mobile interactions, rather that forcing new interactions into conventional spaces and relations. This is just a snapshot of the presentation; we’ll post more as soon as the video of the conference goes online.
Last April, during the Salone del Mobile in Milano, I participated at the Conference “L’Italia di Steve jobs”. It was the opportunity to compare the way of doing design at Apple with – on one side – the design culture of large US corporations and – on the other – with the way of doing design in Italian design-oriented companies.
I personally was involved in design projects with Apple only during the period while Jobs was out [in 1989 at Sottsass Associati I led the ‘Figaro’ tablet project, and later in ’96 and ’97 I participated in two Apple Design Projects with Domus Academy], but of course I’ve been following Apple’s work and read the biography to understand more about his influence and relationship with Apple’s design team.
Visiting the Xerox Research Labs in Grenoble, with which I collaborated more than 10 years ago on Interaction Design projects, and giving a lecture there, has been quite a privilege. After all, Xerox labs invented in the last 30 years almost every technology that changed the way we live and work, from the desktop metaphor to computing ‘pads’, and they anticipated most design concepts that we use every day in our design work, from interaction design to information visualization, from ubiquitous computing to agent systems.
In my lecture I presented some of my recent Interaction Design projects, and discussed the state of Research and Innovation in Labs connected to large companies, comparing my Advanced Concepts experience in Motorola with Xerox’s current research strategy.
The video recording of the lecture is available here.
On May 31, in my keynote to the COOP 12 Conference in Marseille, France, I challenged the CSCW (Computer Supported Collaborative Work) community to consider how Social Networks may bring a fresher perspective on collaboration. In my speech “Guerrilla Collaboration” I considered how post-PC devices, cloud technologies, and the social networks revolution already changed the context for individual and ‘consumer’ collaboration. New generations grow in a ‘tribal’ social environment where collaboration is by definition informal, unstructured, episodic, real-time, and ad-hoc. It’s the opposite of the structured, hierarchical traditional work environment in an enterprise or large organization. The idea of lean, unobtrusive, flexible systems to support informal collaborative work and tacit knowledge, a vision that many researchers in CSCW anticipated long time ago, is now real, but in a very different domain, the one of teenagers sharing their private lives and friendship.
Parallel to this, I introduced the fundamental difference between HCI/HMI and Experience Design, a move from designing to support performing a task to designing to enable an experience.
The definition of Experience Design is quite common in the design community, but is not well-known in the Computer Science community. Plus, XP design blends digital and physical interaction, which is fundamental when dealing with an ecosystem of devices (appliances, phones, tablets, large screens) rather than a conventional PC. Also in this case the consumer space has anticipated the work environment, but we can expect the topic of multiple device interaction becoming mainstream in the enterprise, so it’s worth anticipating the challenge it’ll pose to designers and technologies.