How has my view on interaction design changed after the 1st semester at CMU?
In one of the earlier posts for the seminar class, my peers and I were asked to write about our own definition of interaction design. In the previous post, I’ve written that interaction design should aim to craft a ‘language’ that can be spoken among all users to create a meaningful dialogue and build relationships with one another as well as their surroundings. I think interaction design steps in to identify what is hindering the communication currently and make the transaction of ideas, experiences, values, and beliefs possible through a design intervention. To do so, interaction designers need to be able to ask a right ‘question.’
It had come up in one of the class discussions that it is natural for designers to have a tendency to identify a problem and to solve it. During my undergraduate program in industrial design, the design process and methods that I learned aligns with that inclination. Earlier in the semester, we read pieces on problems and problem-solving. From those readings, the idea of wicked problems that are unsolvable was really refreshing — an intertwined network of unsolvable problems that cannot be addressed by a single designer or an organization. Although I knew design can’t be a cure-all for ALL existing problems in the society, accepting it as a fact gave me a sense relief.
From then on, I started to look at ‘problems’ at a different angle, and how might designers start to devise design implications accordingly. I think an unsuccessful design solution results from an ill-defined framework for the problem — trying to solve thousands of complicated web of problems with a single miracle solution. Throughout the semester, I learned the importance of establishing a graspable framework to work within. In my opinion, this is where designers can start asking a set of questions that sheds a light on the right part of the problem to focus on and thinking of a solution to address the needs.
Although my perspective of design as a universal language has stayed the same, I’m certainly more conscious of every design decisions I make. From my undergraduate design education, I learned various methods and skills to execute design tasks, which is a valuable foundation for my design ability to communicate my ideas through visuals as well as tangibles. Here at CMU, professors are always pushing us to constantly be aware of the design decisions that we are making, and most importantly, WHY we are making such decisions. For me, the biggest takeaway from the first semester of MDes program is that we are learning to ask questions — hopefully a piercing one — to ourselves of the decisions we are making as designers.