Monday, February 23, 2004

Design and Everyday Life

The Drift Table

The Drift Table is a coffee table with a small viewport showing a slowly changing aerial view of the British landscape. Shifting items on the table changes its apparent height, direction and speed. The current 'location' of the table is shown on a small screen on the table's side, and an electronic compass aligns the photography with its actual surroundings. The Drift Table is designed to allow exploration and daydreaming, rather than to fulfil any particular task. People may use the table to explore the country, to travel to a friends house, to explore questions about geography, or to simply watch the world go by. It is intended to provide an opening in the home to other places and other landscapes.

The Drift Table will be installed in Jack Mottram's room on Friday, and we can follow its virtual travels for the next six weeks at the Drift Table Weblog.

Very nice.

No doubt inspired by elements of Dunne & Raby's Placebo Project, The Drift Table is one of EQUATOR's Weight Furniture devices, developed as part of the Domestic Experience project.

All of this makes me think of the place of things in everyday life, and Bill Gaver's Designing for Homo Ludens:

Scientific approaches to design need to be complemented by more subjective, idiosyncratic ones. It is difficult to conceive of a task analysis for goofing around, or to think of exploration as a problem to be solved, or to determine usability requirements for systems meant to spark new perceptions ... Designing for Homo Ludens means allowing room for people to appropriate technologies. Playing involves pursuing one’s inner narratives in safe situations, through perceptual projection or, ideally, action ... Designing for Homo Ludens requires a new focus that seeks intrigue and delight at all levels of design, from the aesthetics of form and interaction, to functionality, to conceptual implications at psychological, social and cultural levels. Not only should technologies reinforce pleasures that people know, but they should suggest new ones.

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