Beyond functionality to desirability
The Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT), one of Japan's national universities, teaches design, engineering and technology with a strong focus on textiles, an important traditional industry for Kyoto.
Professor Masayoshi Kubo, head of the Design Management and Engineering Department is active in the universal and sustainable design movements in Japan and a longstanding collaborator of the Helen Hamlyn Centre. He invited Senior Research Fellow Julia Cassim to devise a workshop and seminar about the importance of desirability for inclusively designed products.
The workshop was split into three parts: a briefing session; product analysis and a two-hour design challenge. It was intended for 40 participants but drew 60 KIT students and professional designers from across the Kansai region.
They were split into eight teams who were asked to bring along products or visual communications that they liked and loathed. These ranged from laptops, mobile phones, watches and coffee makers to disposable lighters and a cookery publication.
The teams were asked to create two displays in those categories, map the key qualities for each and compile a list in order of frequency to understand what makes something inclusive and desirable or not.
Their other task was to select the worst object, redesign it so that it was more inclusive and desirable. They then had five minutes to present their ideas.
The was a good range of responses to the brief, but the team that had selected a cookery publication led the way by redesigning it graphically, reorganising its information delivery and changing it from a static book format to a flexible scrapbook style format.
The workshop was filmed by NHK Television and was the subject of a report on inclusive design on the main evening news that week.