Reflections on the expertise areas and personal growth
After spending two and half years study at TU/e, I would like to reflect my personal growth and interpretation of the six expertise areas.
Design Research Process
This expertise area I have developed most throughout the master study. My previous education was practical-oriented. Most of my works were based on a personal assumption and judgement without applying proper research (methods) before the actual design phase.
In the first year of master study, the core course ‘Constructive Design Research’ introduced several different design research methods, (e,g. research through design, diary studies and contextual inquiry). Besides that, I also learned how to conduct qualitative data analysis by using the affinity diagram method. The chosen research subject was ‘co-performance’ proposed by Dr. Lenneke Kuijer. Her works inspired me a lot to reconsider the relationship between the environment, artefacts and users, not only the technical aspects and aesthetic quality. This course helped me to formalise sequences of performing RtD projects, it also raised the awareness of how suitable methods can contribute to a research project. I have learned a lot from this course, not only the theoretical frameworks. But also gain valuable experience to quickly apply these methods to new research projects.
Creativities and Aesthetics:
I used to believe that creativities and aesthetics are the most important qualities for being a designer, as well as tools to measure the performance of a product or services. In my previous design works, most of the attention was given on optimizing the aesthetics quality of form. For instance, the use of material, texture and colour.
In the elective ‘A designerly perspective on IoT,’ I learned the design framework of Rich interaction, it awakened me that aesthetics qualities are more than optimization of form. It is a unity of form, interaction and function (Frens, 2006) and it has to do with good user experience while interacting. In the research project and FMP, I started learning and applying different design frameworks to evaluate my design decision. For instance, I learned from the Frogger Framework (Wensveen,2005) that coupling between the action and function should naturally occur.
The course ‘Interactive materiality’ has deepened my understanding of haptic interactions and shape-changing interface. My perspective on the form (materials, texture and colour) has been changed. I see them as an interface that can transfer a message to users and invite them to perform what is intended with the designs, by fine-tuning and detailing the subtleties of interactions, designers can give new life to materials rather than a building blocks that can be used.
User & Society
Use experience aspects play an important role in the design and development of products and services. Understanding users and their expectations, needs and desires can help designers to better understand the contextual environment. I followed several electives in this expertise area, besides the ‘Constructive Design Research’, I also followed ‘UX Theory & Practices’ where I gained theoretical knowledge and practical experience by completing several design challenges.
For my FMP, in order to define functions and generate different concepts. The project began with applying several design methods to empathise the user’s situation. Then I analysed their acceptance of new technologies and expectations, as a result, I obtained an understanding of what affects their willingness to adopt new technologies and what motivates them to continue using them.
What drives innovations and developments? In my opinion is the social aspect and influence of products or services. Understanding users and providing them with products or services to influence their environment can help us to shape the vision of everyday life into meaningful, sustainable and fruitful, and even gain user’s satisfaction.
Business & Entrepreneurship
In my previous education, I only learned theoretical knowledge of business aspects, my experience with entrepreneurship was a start-up project during my exchange study in Finland. My role in that project was a graphic design who needed to complete what clients asked.
My understanding of this expertise has changed through electives I had in my master study, as well as my FMP. In the elective ‘Creating Cooperative Entrepreneurship’ I learned several methods (business model canvas, stakeholder map, empathy map) to not only empathize with the users but also to gain an understanding in the expectations from Client. Therefore, my visions in product design and development have widened.
For the design challenge offered by BrianPort Smart District in the elective ‘Smart Cities’. I applied the methods which I learned from the business elective and conducted several meetings with the stakeholders. Besides gathering insights from them, we also learned that they would like to have an ‘easy entrance’ in order to understand the automation systems and their implementations. Therefore, I applied my graphics skills to create several distribution diagrams for the clients which received positive feedback. Last but not least, I also learned a lot during my FMP how to work with clients and deal with multiple stakeholders.
Technology & Realization
I have several years of experience with 3D modelling and rendering from previous educations, as well as 3D printing and laser cutting. However, it was more related to architectural CAD drawings and architectural visualization. During the master study, I aimed to develop new skills in 3D modelling and prototyping. The parametric design, which is popular and advanced algorithmic modelling both for form-making and form-finding. For my research project (M1.2), besides creating different iterations of the prototype, I also offered parametric modelling services to the Labeledby (Labeledby,2019). We created 3D printed garments that were used for their fashion summit in 2019 in Bangladesh.
Most significant growth in this area is my prototyping skills with the usage of Arduino and electronics for my FMP. I completed a bachelor elective (Creative Programming) during my pre-master, I gained a basic understanding of object-oriented programming. After that, I stayed in my ‘safe zone’ of parametric visual programming. However, for my FMP, I aimed to improve this expertise and therefore invested serious effort and time in experimenting with different sensors and actuators, creating circuits. I gave life to these sensors by using Arduino and created communications between the users, sensor and data on Data Foundry Platform.
Moreover, in the minor elective ‘ Smart Cities’, together with three engineering students, we proposed a sustainable solution in both HVAC systems and energy systems to the Brainport Smart District in Helmond. I gained practical experience in both fields of system design and their distribution, but also theoretical knowledge for my FMP.
Math, Data & Computing
Parametric Design is one of my specializations, in my experience, digital modelling (e.g. Solidworks, Fusion) has traditionally been based on virtual manipulation, by using a mouse and keyboard to manipulate and interact geometries in the digital environment. Parametric design is algorithmic modelling (visual scripting) based on logic, it allows designers to establish conceptual relationships between geometry and mathematics. Data is manipulated instead of digital objects. In order to deepen my understanding of parametric design, I also completed an elective ‘Parametric Design’ in the Department of Built Environment and obtained an 8 as a result.
In the course ‘Intelligent Buildings’, besides the theoretical knowledge of building automation systems. I also learned how to analyse large datasets using Python and its different libraries (Panda, Numpy). Furthermore, I gained practical experience in data mining and training models by using MATLAB Statistics and Machine Learning Toolbox.
For my FMP. I was inspired by the Data-Enabled Design (Van Kollenburg & Bogers, 2018) method and applied this method in the pilot study to obtain an understanding through collected data. Through the entire FMP, I developed my programming skills in Arduino, the final product not only offers intuitive interactions but also collects both environmental and user data for the Building Services Research Group.
Premaster | 2017-2018
In 2017, I started my premaster at the Department of Industrial Design, Tu/e. With a design background from my previous education. I needed to complete 4 electives from different expertise areas in order to bridge the gap between my bachelor study and master program. I also completed one group research project in the 'Crafting Everyday Soft Things' squad.
Master | 2018-2019
In the first year of master study, exploration were spent on identifying the expertises areas and specialisation. Therefore, besides the core course (CDR), I also completed 5 electives in the areas of US, MDC and CA. I also completed a design project in the context of Eindhoven Museum and a research project that was related to parametric design.
Master | 2019-2020
For my FMP, I completed a cross-faculty project stands in the department of Industrial Design and Built Environment. To be able to actively perform this project, I followed a minor program at Built Environment Faculty. Besides that, I also completed two electives in the areas of AC and BE.
1. Labeledby, 2019. Link retrieve from https://www.labeledby.com/
2. Frens, J. W. (2006). Designing for rich interaction: Integrating form, interaction, and function. In conference; 3rd symposium of design research; 2006-11-17; 2006-11-18 (pp. 91-106). Swiss Design Network.
3. Wensveen, S. A. (2005). A tangibility approach to affective interaction.
4. Bogers, S., Frens, J., Van Kollenburg, J., Deckers, E., & Hummels, C. (2016, June). Connected Baby Bottle: A design case study towards a framework for data-enabled design. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 301-311).