Designing for Interaction

I’m Hannah — a human loving explorer, a fledgling interaction designer. I hold a BA in Art History and Studio Art and an MA in Design for Interactions. I came to interaction design somewhat by accident, and though it has become an interest are of mine, technology had very little to do with my initial fascination with the discipline. I came to design as a way to think about, and work through human problems.

After graduating from college with a liberal arts degree, I found myself in India, supporting organizations in their work to tackle problems in sanitation, healthcare and education. What I found most fascinating about this work was that the most effective solutions in these spaces were not products but rather complex systems of people, products and processes interacting to support a desired outcome. I became enamored by these moments of interaction and how they could mean the success or failure of a well-meaning effort. Unfortunately, these interactions are hard to design. They involve myriad pieces interacting over time and place in a range of combinations. They are highly contextual, incredibly specific, and are hard to predict.

Interaction design proved a valuable tool to help me contend with this contextual specificity, to “solve specific problems under a particular set of circumstances using the available materials.” Rather than trying to prescribe these complex interactions “between people, machines, and systems, in a variety of combinations…[I became excited about] design[ing] for the possibility of interaction” (Dan Saffer). This semantic nuance is what drew me to interaction design as a discipline. I believe it can mean the difference between thoughtful applications of technology, rooted in human needs, and an alienating techno-centered approach to solving problems.

With roots in industrial design, communication design, human factors, and human-computer interaction interaction designers are responsible for the complex systems and services that shape the world as we know it. I am excited to be a part of this league of designers thinking critically about the complex interactions of people, products, and processes and the tools and technologies that facilitate meaningful connections between the three.