Investigating Our Future through Designing (2006)

RUST, C. (2006) Investigating Our Future: How Designers can get us all Thinking Viva50plus World Ageing and Generations Congress, University of St Gallen, Switzerland 27-29 September 2006 (Invited paper)

Investigating Our Future:
How Designers can get us all Thinking

This was part of a session led by Deana McDonagh to present ideas about design to this very interesting interdisciplinary conference. I used it as an opportunity to set out some ideas about designers as provocateurs, drawing on work by two designers at Sheffield Hallam, Peter Walters and Simon Bowen. It’s a very brief paper and not exactly advanced scholarship but it takes a position.

Full paper from


This paper, and the presentation it represents, discusses the importance of bringing users into the design process and some of the techniques that can be employed to achieve that.

Designing for older people is particularly challenging because most designers do not have direct experience of the ways that people’s lives and expectations change as they become older so it is even more important than usual to give the user a direct voice in the designing. However this is not straightforward. Most people find it difficult to visualise products and environments that do not exist at the moment so we need to help them imagine possibilities and express their needs and desires.

Sheffield Hallam University has pioneered methods for using the designer’s creative talents to create situations that allow people to act out new situations and engage with the creative opportunities that they present. These methods are particularly important in the contemporary world where products are connected by complex information systems so we must attend to how people engage with both the physical aspects of a product or environment and the systems that underlie them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: