Cognitive Design Congress, Lubeck: Day 2: Prof. Loe Feijs

Another interesting talk, on semiotics, product and experience design:

The structure of product semantics
Prof. Loe Feijs
Technical Uni Eindhoven

was in phillips research labs for 17yrs
involved in embedded systems / software
then Industrial Design research

functions: usability, performance
meanings: implicit messages
aesthetics: beauty, balance

more soft concepts than he was used to!

got intrigued by the idea of products having meaning

gets more important when enter a world of ‘ambient intelligence’ or ubicomp whatever you want to call it

implications for semantics:

beahviour: embedded software
dialog: 2 way meaning
complexity: mediation, abundant data, programmed behaviour

progress of product design over time:
design for
beginning – craftsmanship
industrial rev – mass manufacturing
(electronics =) formless functions
telecommuication
now / next – programmed behaviour

computing science and semantics

syntactics, semantic domains and equations…

product semantics: tried to find a theoretic frame work from semiotics and CS semantic theory

symbol: must be learned
icon: resembles hting it stands for
index: imprint or physical connection (smoke is a sign of fire footprints in the sand sign of movement)

mechanism of sign production (eco)
ratio facilis: reusing existing sign
ratio difficils: creating a new sign

tried to apply CS structures: ‘meaning functions’

m(sign)= x

Eco calls it ‘s-code’

not clear in product … need multiple meaning functions
too complex to say what is a car mean
can perhaps say what is a car optimsed for (space, speed, comfort)

interaction meanings – see work by djajadiningrat (affordances?)
fritihjof meinel – deconstructing design meaning in furntiture
meaning at individual level (materials, form)
meaning at system level (stackable chair systems form, lightweight etc)

“every product is a medium”

meaning functions become very interesting and powerful in the role of how a product mediates

triangular joints = strong
= part of a system

prof burdeck of offenbach – product language is becoming the kernel of design

not everyone agrees:
stappers ,delft: product semantics is stale…

Work of richard appleby –

examples from design history conveying ideas through product design… e.g. streamlining of steam engines/futurism, reitvelt/de stijl -purity, duchamp – importance of context, found objects/reuse in products , memphis style, alessi, stark squeezer – non functional form

linguists and semioticians

lanaguage is a system – meaning of the sign is in the difference to the alternatives (saussure)
wittgenstein – language gains meaning socially
chomsky – innate language rules
gibson – meaning of object lies in the world – perception is through action in the world
eco – a design system should be able to lie
mcluhan – medium has social impacts, extension of the senses – embodied
ovebaker – all the senses and emotions are involved
samuels – semiotic pollution
baudrillard – the nature of the real

gave all this to students and said – design a chair / telephone!

students responded well! e.g. the ‘semiotic pollution chair’, seesaw chair

combinatory chair – made of tetris block – illustrating chomsky’s theories of combinatiral primatives and rules that grow language – blocks that fit together to ‘grow’ a chair. (very cool)

icons, indexes and symbols that combine in the form/behaviour of the product

education: “4d sketching” : asking students to express behaviours, emotions through time
using microprocessors, etc to sketch behaviours in objects
e.g. Dolly (love) by Jan Hoefnagels: embodies sweetness / generosity in it’s movements to deliver the user a walnut…

not good enough to animate it on computer – believe we need to prototype it and make it real – it’s important to hear the noise of the servo motors!!!

knowledge types necessary: a lattice diagram (seems reminiscent of Irene McCara-Williams “10d” model which she presented at 2002 doors?)

0 to many

with 0 people there is still logic, maths, philosophy
1 person: human factors, psychology, material, embedded systems
>1 sociology, ehthography, politics

one product: ergonomics, perception ,HCI
many products: Manufacturing, distributed software

1 person, many products: feature interaction product interaction ,semitotic pollution ,telecomms, shared resource
many people, many products: everything + economics…

fractal structure of the knowledge necessary to create success

what is the postmodern engineer?

“we try and address in educaton and research those topics that bring the digital and the physical together”
the virtual and the real – create a rich environment

Some upcoming related events:

DPPI: designing pleasurable producst and interfaces, eindhoven 24-27th october
DESFORM: newcastle, UK: november 11th – design and semantics of form and movement

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