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  1. What is a contradiction and why it is relevant to design research?

    What is a contradiction and why it is relevant to design research?

    Design research is increasingly concerned with being part of change processes in everyday life, in communities, in organizations, and in large-scale sociotechnical systems. Despite the growing interest, the field is not prepared to deal with this topic. The predominant theories in design research were crafted to understand individuals interacting with products, or groups of people […] - Apr 21, 2020
  2. Seeking freedom in design

    Seeking freedom in design

    Open Design was initially introduced as an analog to Open Source Software, a concept which explains why software source code should be part of an official product release. The analogy went by stating that electronic drawings and models be released together with physical products, in the hopes of enabling modifications or self-production through digital fabrication. […] - Apr 6, 2020
  3. Design ethnography with activity theory

    Design ethnography with activity theory

    Design ethnography is a field study method which aims at uncovering user needs and innovation opportunities. Through this method, anthropologists can help understand the context, bringing up semantic, emotional, and social issues that may represent innovation opportunities. However, most design ethnographies are not carried out by trained anthropologists. Design ethnography is typically conducted by designers themselves, […] - Oct 28, 2016
  4. Contradiction-driven design

    Contradiction-driven design

    I have developed for my Design Thinking course a comprehensive explanation on how design can be part of big transformations in society. Instead of making changes to society, as in the paradigm of “social impact”, I teach my students to discover transformations already in course, understand them, and support them. The concept of contradiction is key to my approach: a unite […] - Oct 28, 2016
  5. Expanding the design object

    Expanding the design object

    In the first lecture of my Design Thinking course, I gave a historical perspective on the evolution of the design object. According to my thesis work, the object of design expanded in the last century from complex entities to emergent performances, such as experiences, interactions and business. The characteristics of this object are: It includes the user behavior, as […] - Sep 16, 2016
  6. Expansive Design Open Data

    Expansive Design Open Data

    The Expansive Design thesis was crafted on the methodology of historical analysis from Cultural Historical Activity Theory and Production of Space Theory. This page explains in details how data was collected and analyzed, as well as introduces the data records, which are made public here. Open data The graphical maps used for data collection and […] - Feb 15, 2016
  7. Representing contradictions without trying to solve them

    Representing contradictions without trying to solve them

    Design-oriented ethnography seeks to find opportunities for innovation in social activities. Disturbances, tensions, and conflicts are sometimes used to ground or justify these opportunities, as if they could be avoided by an innovation. Ethnographers know that social contradictions cannot be resolved by design since they depend on collective endeavors; however, they still need to provide […] - Nov 20, 2015
  8. What is expansive design?

    What is expansive design?

    Expansive design is a concept initially defined by psychologist Yrjö Engeström which I developed further in my PhD thesis. It means expanding the design activity towards the use activity, or in other words, connecting them together. This connection is characterized by co-creation; instead of merely producing objects for users, designers co-create objects with the users. […] - Nov 20, 2015
  9. Analog Social Networking Game

    Analog Social Networking Game

    The functioning of Facebook is a mystery to most of its users, but an actual divider of social groups. Facebook gives the impression that if a user posts a status update, all of her friends receive it in the timeline, but that is not always true. The Edgerank algorithm decides what is shown at the timeline based on three variables: Affinity: […] - Jul 31, 2015
  10. The emergence of boundaries

    The emergence of boundaries

    The boundaries between humans and collective association of humans are one of the most dynamic resources for work and development. Nature generated physical affordances that hinder human movement, but humans barely ever accept them. Humans open pathways through jungles, build bridges across rivers, and fly over the ocean. Nevertheless, humans draw their own boundaries too […] - Jul 18, 2015
  11. The homogenization of differences

    The homogenization of differences

    The competition for exchange value has shaped the space of capitalist societies. In order to compete in the global market, the land, the cities, and the homes are becoming more alike across the world. People are trying to use space in similar ways due to the possibility of surviving from exchanges in the global market. This phenomenon […] - Jul 17, 2015
  12. The collaboration for use value

    The collaboration for use value

    The basic assumption of capitalism that companies make money from valuable products is being challenged by recent market changes. Products are no longer considered valuable only for sales’ performance. They must perform well after the sales, i.e. in use, otherwise sales may drop. The use value (a.k.a. value in use) corresponds to the product applications found […] - Jun 10, 2015
  13. The competition for exchange value

    The competition for exchange value

    Value is an expected outcome or the effective outcome of using an object. If the object is useful, the value should be higher, however, that is not the case in a capitalist economy. If many people possess the object and are willing to exchange it, the value is lower, no matter how useful the object […] - May 5, 2015
  14. The spatialization of workflow

    The spatialization of workflow

    At the beginning of the industrial revolution, workspaces were scattered over factory plans in no rational order. They naturally emerged around stationary large products, machines, and tool sets. The rise of the assembly line brought a new strategy for factory space: the spatialization of the workflow, i.e. to ascribe tasks to certain spaces and to […] - Mar 25, 2015
  15. The flexibilization of workspaces

    The flexibilization of workspaces

    The organizations interested in the co-creation of knowledge are making workspaces more flexible to enable temporary project-specific adaptations, casual encounters, and unplanned team work. However, the flexibilization of workspaces is pursued by organizations interested in the optimization of work processes too, with a different motivation: they want to shrink or grow the employee base at the […] - Mar 24, 2015
  16. The optimization of work processes

    The optimization of work processes

    Work has been a traditional human activity for millennia, evolving into the many directions that needs and curiosity brings about. Since the industrial revolution, though, work is being channeled towards one direction: maximizing the collective productivity. The first implication of this redirection is the split between the worker and the work process, which is then […] - Mar 22, 2015
  17. The co-creation of knowledge

    The co-creation of knowledge

    Knowledge production in ancient Greece was the privilege of a few men. They had slaves of their own or they benefit indirectly from slave labor. By handling the basic activities of survival to slaves, they could concentrate on the higher activity of thinking. Already in Greece, there was a divide between those who possess knowledge […] - Mar 18, 2015
  18. The alienation of design possibilities

    The alienation of design possibilities

    The progressive contraction of design representations is synchronized with the alienation of design possibilities. Alienation means that some of the design possibilities are taken out of the design space and, therefore, never considered. These possibilities are put aside for being unacceptable, unthinkable, or unknown. This can happen by many reasons. In the socialization of the […] - Mar 16, 2015
  19. The socialization of the design space

    The socialization of the design space

    The expansion of the design object from materials to experiences is synchronized with the socialization of the design space. The design space can be understood in three ways: As the physical space where designers work (e.g. a studio or an office) As the social space where designers meet users and clients As the mental set […] - Mar 16, 2015
  20. The contraction of design representations

    The contraction of design representations

    In the last post, I described the expansion of the design object in the last centuries. This process is followed by another historical change in the opposite direction. Instead of expanding together with the object, the design representations are becoming smaller and more precise. The representations are being contracted in the hopes of corralling the […] - Mar 12, 2015
  21. The expansion of the design object: from materials to experiences

    The expansion of the design object: from materials to experiences

    The object of design was once easy to grasp. If we look at the first Bauhaus curriculum, we see the prominent role the building materials played in the designer’s formation. The aspiring designer was supposed to master these materials and tranform them into aesthetical compositions. At this time, the materials were the design object: concrete, […] - Mar 9, 2015
  22. Reductionism and expansionism in design theory

    Reductionism and expansionism in design theory

    In the readings of my PhD I came across the term reductionism a lot. It is used to criticize or warn against the trap of analyzing social phenomena in a rather restricted way, with no clear definition of its own. After years of reading those uses, I got a tacit understanding of what can be […] - Feb 23, 2015
  23. Collaborative Future Making

    Collaborative Future Making

    Prof. Pelle Ehn from Malmö University gave a Masterclass (45 hours) at the University of Twente about the latest advances in his research group from the 2nd of February to the 17th of April of 2015, as part of the initial activities of the UT DesignLab. This course was based on a book called Making Futures. Frederick assisted […] - Jan 19, 2015
  24. Sketching an expansive design definition

    Sketching an expansive design definition

    While writing my thesis, I make visual and textual sketches. Most of the times, these sketches are replaced later by a well-thought text, typically without the pictures. The sketches are removed because they cannot withstand scientific criticism, but they might be useful to communicate to a broader audience. With that in mind, I’m publishing the […] - Jan 12, 2015
  25. How to represent contradictions

    How to represent contradictions

    Contradictions are social tensions that accumulate in the history of a society. When they reach the peak, conflicts come to the surface and society has to take action to change what is feeding the contradiction. In simple words, it is necessary to attack the root of the problem. There are design approaches that try to […] - Jan 5, 2015
  26. Double stimulation experiments

    Double stimulation experiments

    For my PhD research, I had to do some experiments in design education. Design education is characterized by a learning-by-doing approach when the learner is pushed to take the lead of experimentation. This represents a problem for design educators who also want to test the research hypothesis within teaching activities since it is not easy […] - Dec 20, 2014
  27. The low-tech visualization method

    The low-tech visualization method

    The World Usability Day was for the first time organized here at the University of Twente. In this event, I shared a practical output of my PhD research: a method to gather user data using low-tech materials. The method consists of collecting data through low-tech visualization and using the data to build high-tech visualizations, following […] - Nov 25, 2014
  28. Change by Design London

    Change by Design London

    I read the reports from the Change by Design workshops in Brazil, Kenya and Ecuador and decide to join the next in the UK. These workshops are organized by Architecture Sans Frontières UK, a non-profit that aims to bring forth community engagement in architecture practice and teaching. The workshops are based on participatory design sessions […] - Sep 18, 2014
  29. Game spatiality

    Game spatiality

    I’m developing a concept to understand how board games are employed to produce a social space among the players where conflict is enacted and worked out. Game spatiality is the sense of being in a space produced by playing a particular game. This sense is gradually developed through the bodily actions of players trying to […] - Aug 14, 2014
  30. Participation and transdisciplinarity

    Participation and transdisciplinarity

    Participation is an issue that crosses the boundaries of a single discipline. Its fundamental assumption is that people can make better decisions together than led by a single discipline. To approach participation in the renovation of healthcare facilities, it is important to consider disciplines concerned with the built environment – Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), […] - May 15, 2014
  31. Designing with contradictions

    I just made a pecha-kucha presentation about my PhD research in 6’40”. I try to explain what I mean with Expansive Design, the design approach I’m building up that takes advantage of social contradictions, instead of trying to solve them. Contradictions are social relationships that have a long history and cannot be solved by any […] - Mar 12, 2014
  32. Using smartboards to enable user participation in architecture

    Last week, I demoed my Walking Paths application at 3TU Innovation & Technology conference using a Smartboard that allows touch and pen interaction. To explain how it enables user participation in architecture, I presented a model of the building where the conference was held and asked visitors to draw the path they took across the […] - Dec 9, 2013
  33. The validity of user’s activity representation

    The validity of user’s activity representation

    Last week I attended a conference in Milan about visualizations in Architecture. The conference showcased many objective ways to represent the user perception of space before it is built: maps, simulations, calculations, scatterplots, etc. The represented perceptions ranged from confort to privacy. My own presentation raised the issue of validity of such representations, considering the […] - Oct 7, 2013
  34. Movies related to ethnographic user research

    I’m currently conducting interviews and observations for my PhD. As I go through them, some images come to my mind: the similar  situations that I saw in particular movies. I compiled a list with the movies that I watched along the years related to the task of observing and interviewing users for design purposes. The […] - Jun 9, 2013
  35. Making games to communicate research findings

    Making games to communicate research findings

    After two years conducting field studies about the participation of healthcare professionals in construction projects, I decided to make a board game based on my findings. The target players are those same professionals I’m studying. The idea is that the construction and healthcare professionals can switch their roles for a while and understand their different […] - Apr 4, 2013
  36. Visualizations for Participatory Design

    I made a video showing my PhD research progress so far. You can see how I video-record my workshops, analyze them, and develop new visualization tools based on my interpretation of what could be improved. - Dec 12, 2012
  37. How to knit spatial layout with workflow

    How to knit spatial layout with workflow

    After realizing that the use situation is more complicated than what they thought, the managers from the CMI project organized a second user workshop to check if the current floor plan fits the workflow of scanning patients in machines such as EGG, PET-MRI, MRI, and CT. In the last workshop, a lot of time was […] - Oct 2, 2012
  38. Use and design: two points of view

    Use and design: two points of view

    I’m following the CMI-NEN project in my PhD, a healthcare facility that combines research, education, and care services in one place. The project is very innovative because it links medical image research to care demand. The concept is to drive research with the actual use of diagnosing technologies, instead of just exploring what is possible […] - Jul 13, 2012
  39. Technology Appropriation Scale

    Technology Appropriation Scale

    During my Masters I stumbled upon the paper [PDF] from the Abaporu Project, a project that studied mobile technology in Brazil. Instead of a traditional adoption study based on the chart above, the authors decided to go from the other way around. They didn’t tried to track to what extent a specific (foreign) technology was […] - Jun 27, 2012
  40. When Participatory Design makes sense

    When Participatory Design makes sense

    In the course of writing my PhD proposal to the disciplinary council of my faculty, I had to define which kind of project could be appropriate for doing  Participatory Design research. Not every project can be participatory or profit from being participatory. There are specific situations where Participatory Design makes sense, but I couldn’t find […] - Jun 4, 2012
  41. Spreading participation into the routine

    Spreading participation into the routine

    Participatory Design usually happens in ritualized gathering where participants enact their political positions and build things together. The workshop creates an ephemeral horizontal power structure where people from the lowest level can work with medium an top level of the hierarchy. From what I observe so far in the Healthcare Construction Industry, where I conduct […] - Mar 1, 2012
  42. Interaction Design as a Cultural Project

    Interaction Design as a Cultural Project

    I’ve been very lucky to attend Interaction 12 in Dublin last week. Everything was so well organized and still with a human touch. The conference allowed a lot of networking between presentations. There was large corridors and rooms for side conversations, which for me are the best part of going to conferences. On the background […] - Feb 8, 2012
  43. Public participation can revitalize decaying places

    Public participation can revitalize decaying places

    I’m currently on vacation in Brazil enjoying the time to think on how will I contribute to Brazilian society when I’ll be back from my PhD on Participatory Design in Netherlands. One thing that I often hear is that participation can only work in advanced democracies. It wouldn’t work in Brazil because people wouldn’t make […] - Jan 23, 2012
  44. Why measuring design aesthetics?

    Why measuring design aesthetics?

    The aestheticization of politics pioneered by fascist and populist governments is not working so effective as it was in the past. People don’t trust politicians neither the media anymore because, among other factors, they could not keep up with the diversification of identity wishes from the population. Companies, at the other hand, have been very […] - Dec 15, 2011
  45. Enabling participation in healthcare construction

    Enabling participation in healthcare construction

    After conducting initial observations on two healthcare projects ­— a new medical image center and a hospital reallocation, I identified three shortcomings for Participatory Design in healthcare construction: lack of proper tools to collaborate over design models with non-design experts economic and political costs for scheduling meetings over reliance on consensus to move design process […] - Dec 2, 2011
  46. Cannibalistic Interaction Design

    Cannibalistic Interaction Design

    Last week, I was in Italy for an academic forum about Latin perspectives on Design and I presented our view from Faber-Ludens Institute. I described the context where the Institute emerged and explained our Design Livre approach for project development. Previously, I used the translation Free Design, but from now on I’ll keep the original […] - Nov 9, 2011
  47. Using Activity Theory to situate Design Thinking

    Using Activity Theory to situate Design Thinking

    During my last trip to Brazil, together with Andre Malheiro, I conducted a Design Thinking workshop at Rede Globo, the producer of the famous Brazilian soap operas. I’ve been experimenting using Activity Theory as a framework for Design Thinking in these kind of workshops for a while, but after this, I got an important insight: […] - Oct 31, 2011
  48. Brazil Open Government Act

    Brazil Open Government Act

    Last week, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff signed a decree for starting the National Open Government Plan (Portuguese). The main objectives are: Increased availability of governmental activities information, including spending and performance Support for social participation in decision-making New technologies for managing and offering public services Increased public information transparency process and technologies Better accountability and […] - Sep 19, 2011
  49. Social Shaping of Innovation

    Social Shaping of Innovation

    I’ve been in a Summerschool last week entitled Social Shaping of Innovation (PDF), organized by the SPIRE center in Southern Denmark University. The event gathered PhD students from many countries working with social aspects in Innovation Management, Design and Engineering. For me, it was an intense and positive experience. I’ve met a lot of people […] - Aug 26, 2011
  50. Issue-Based Information System (IBIS)

    Issue-Based Information System (IBIS)

    Since I started doing my PhD Research, I learnt a lot of new concepts, but I don’t like to write down everything that I find interesting during my research. I find it too boring. I prefer to rely on my memory filter; if it’s relevant, I’ll remember when needed. But, gosh, that’s not always the […] - Aug 12, 2011
  51. The next step for social networks: Cycles

    The next step for social networks: Cycles

    Social networking websites offer value by mapping social relationships. As with any map, relationships are represented in a simplified way, a kind of metaphor. First was the connection, now we have the circle, and what I believe to be the next step is the cycle. These relationships are evolving as long as technology companies figure […] - Aug 4, 2011
  52. Interaction Design as Mediation

    Interaction Design as Mediation

    During my Master’s research, I looked for alternative views on Interaction Design that went further than User Interface Design. Most definitions say that the former is broader than the latter, but they didn’t provide clear objects to work with. David Malouf did a good job of extending Dan Saffer’s elements, but his foundations look still […] - Jul 26, 2011
  53. The uses of the human body in CAD

    The uses of the human body in CAD

    Yesterday I was in Germany for a collaborative meeting with some researchers working with computing and spation reasoning. I presented a poster outlining the challenges of my PhD research. Schloss Etelsen, the venue, couldn’t be better for reflecting about space abstract modeling. Look at the site: Coincidence or not, the 19th century castle had been […] - Jul 1, 2011
  54. Co-creation tools for Architecture

    Co-creation tools for Architecture

    Today I found a very nice example of what I’m researching in my PhD program. Liz Sanders is a well know practitioner that have written mainly about using expressive tools for users to collaborate in design process. Her papers always have some colorful pictures like that: Today I discovered through a record talk she gave […] - Jun 28, 2011
  55. Open Design and weapons of mass destruction

    Open Design and weapons of mass destruction

    Yesterday I went to the Open Design Now book launch in Amsterdam. People were so excited with the possibilities of openness, that few mentioned potential drawbacks of it. The only potential drawback discussed there was about the possibilities of not making money from it. It’s true that Open Design doesn’t have clear business models right […] - Jun 9, 2011
  56. Aesthetics in Design Thinking

    Aesthetics in Design Thinking

    Both Design Thinking business discourse and research relies heavily on the problem-solution dichotomy for explaining what design is. The emphasis is given to go beyond the common-sense notion of design as form shaping and open new spaces for design in science and business. The aesthetics of form shaping is not entirely rejected in this turn, but reduced to an aspect […] - May 13, 2011
  57. Open Design and Free Design are not the same

    Open Design and Free Design are not the same

    Design is a messy word with many different meanings. When people wants to stay focused on a practical matter, they add a noun to it: Graphic Design, Furniture Design. When they want to qualify Design, for instance, they use an adjective: Industrial Design, Good Design. It´s a simple statement that an adjective can change the […] - May 10, 2011
  58. Designer’s role in a Free Design world

    Designer’s role in a Free Design world

    On the beginning of the year, I gave a talk with my friend Gonçalo Ferraz at a Design student conference about the future role of the professional designer. We envisioned a big leap in design practice, moving from designing products to designing process. Going further than Service Design and Co-design approaches, we expect that people […] - May 2, 2011
  59. Tools for concrete collaboration

    Tools for concrete collaboration

    The traditional free meeting model for participation where supposedly every stakeholder can talk about their concerns often doesn’t satisfy the participants, for many reasons. The consensus is built up on participant’s fatigue; when one give up discussing a project stake not because she start to agree, but because she’s too tired to discuss it. This […] - Apr 29, 2011
  60. First draft for my PhD Research

    First draft for my PhD Research

    Two weeks ago I moved from Curitiba, Brazil, to Enschede, Netherlands, in order to conduct a PhD Research at the University of Twente. I’m now working at the Construction Management & Engineering department. It’s a whole new experience for me: a new country, a new language, and a new research area, of course. Our department […] - Apr 27, 2011
  61. Free Design at Faber-Ludens Institute

    Free Software communities have developed very efficient methods and tools to share programming code, however, their user interfaces are often difficult to use for people that are aside  from this process. Nobody seems to know how to include Interaction Design in Free Software projects, since their development dynamics are very different.   Interaction Design on […] - Feb 14, 2011
  62. Interaction (Design) is a complex phenomenon

    Interaction (Design) is a complex phenomenon

    A common reference for defining Interaction Design are Bill Verplank’s drawings, one of the creators of the noun. Bill defines Interaction Design as a question threefolded: How do you do? What sort of ways do you affect the world: poke it, manipulate it, sit on it? How do you feel? What do you sense of […] - Oct 28, 2010
  63. Toy Hack for opening the cultural black box

    Toy Hack for opening the cultural black box

    Last saturday, I organized a Toy Hack workshop at the brazilian national design students meetup with the purpose of invinting young designers to open the black box of electronic products, mix it’s components and see what happens. The new frankentoys created by the participants are shown in this video (portuguese): Industrial Designers are commonly not […] - Jul 20, 2010
  64. Communal virtualities and complicated pleasures

    Communal virtualities and complicated pleasures

    At the beginning of the Internet, we spoke a lot about virtual communities. We believed that we could create new worlds without borders and conflicts, driven by the information flow and organized by explicit interaction rules. The more the network becomes popular, the more the cyber-utopia gets sallow. What people wants is not information but […] - Jul 9, 2010
  65. Trends, cliches and cultural reproduction in Design

    Trends, cliches and cultural reproduction in Design

    Design is sometimes used as synonymous with innovation, creativity, innovation, cutting edge. But how much design is able to bring the new? The society fears and rejects movements that propose radical changes, such as the Landless Movement, hackerism and Punk, but deify changes proposed by design because this changes do not threaten the status quo, […] - Jul 9, 2010
  66. Critical games to reflect on violence

    Critical games to reflect on violence

    Often, videogames are considered the cause of inadequate violent acts. Traditional media prefer to find an easy culprit instead of discussing the broader problem: the origins of urban violence. The gamer that enacts an inadequate violent act would do it by the influence of videogames. To avoid this behavior, the gamer should not be exposed […] - Jul 7, 2010
  67. Tango DDR

    In my Interaction Design Foundations course, I explain to students that tangible interfaces are becoming widespread because they explore the human body as an input device. This makes the interaction more sociable and affective. In one class, I brought a Dance Dance Revolution pad for our students to experiment with and they took it to […] - Jul 7, 2010
  68. Customer necessity is the mother of invention

    Customer necessity is the mother of invention

    The first thing to do when starting a project is defining its goals. Sometimes, the goal can be broken down in sub-goals, but one of them must prevail and, generally, this goal accounts for company needs, not customer needs. For example, the overused goal “increase customer loyalty” emerges from the company need of retaining current […] - Jul 7, 2010
  69. English blog is alive

    After blogging for 6 years in portuguese on Usabilidoido, now I start to talk with the international community. - Jul 7, 2010