(Journal Artifact) Non-directive experience design

Morten Winther


This article has been selected for a special issue of the online journal Artifact.

How do we design ambiguous and non-directive interactive artefacts that offer multiple ways of engagement? This article presents the initial thoughts on the form-giving of tangible interactive prototypes for practices that demand nonauthoritative designs without specific functionality. In a project designing for children with profound cognitive disabilities, we adopt a shift towards a holistic user understanding and material and expressional explorations as key strategies for addressing their emotions and senses, rather than focusing on cognitive advances. The result was two exploratory interactive sensory pillows with a variety of different expressions and modes of interaction. We propose how design for nondirective practices can be framed by initial articulations of the desired experiences, emotions and senses, based on empathic insights of the users. From these, we suggest to experiment with various materials to explore potential forms for ambiguous designs that allow for a multiplicity of ways of interacting with them.

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