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Values in Design

Lenny van Onselen

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PhD research

Swimming​ in data

In the past few months, I have been up to my ears gathering data and developing tools to support junior designers reflecting on value-based conflicts. This was amazing! The next step is to consolidate all this data in a paper. I have so much data that I almost do not know where to start. I have collected pictures, drawings, notes, chats, interviews, videos, survey data, emails… to name a few.

Data collection
Data collection (pic by Jens Gijbels)

In my first study, I conducted 22 interviews which were transcribed. I added a few more data sources for triangulation, but my main source of data were interview transcriptions. Since my last interview in 2016, I have been analyzing with my supervisory team. We have been working through this rich material. I am happy to announce our first journal article is finished. I submitted it to a journal for review yesterday.

To come back to my second study, you may understand my worry. As I have been working over 1,5 year to have something publishable for my first study, I start to feel some stress for my second study. This is a much wider collection of data. I have to be pragmatic and get a grip on this fast. I have 1,5 year left to finish my thesis, so although it may sound a lot, I do feel some pressure building up.

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Income or going for your values?

Today, I met a junior designer with a freelance business. One of the frustrations he had experienced, was about what is a fair price? He was asked by a friend of a friend to do a job. She thought his rate was high and had expected to give some discount for work he did. Sadly, it is a typical confrontation freelance designers experience. Long time ago, I have myself also been struggling with balancing free or low priced jobs and getting enough income to support myself.

It is unfair choice to ask junior designers to deliver things for free or under market value. Yes they are passionate about their job, and yes they need experience. But how on earth is it fair to expect from them to put a lot of time for free into something you cannot do yourself? They will create something with high talent and quality of deliverables, so you will get in more clients. It is not a direct one-on-one pay back for you, but I am sure it has effect! You want it right?

Ok, so far my preaching, as many of you who read this are probably designers. You know all this? You have probably experienced it, right? What was your strategy? How did you deal with it? Please share your story 🙂

For future projects, you could use this chart to find your answer. A tip from the designer I talked with today.

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Designer Identity

Today, I participated in an (semi-)international seminar for Industrial Design Engineering programs of University of Applied Sciences. I joined a session on Identity Education. We shared how identity education played a role in our programs and what questions we had that we wanted to tackle in this session. As an answer to these questions, we created a vision on how identity support could be for 2025. We envisioned a student who steered in a cabriolet through an ever-changing landscape full of challenges.

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Remarkable for me, was Continue reading “Designer Identity”

Learning loop

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I have these little epiphanies. Last week, I had a major one. I could say, I completed a learning loop. Kolb (an educational theorist) developed the experiential learning model composed of four elements: concrete experience, observation & reflection, formation of abstract concepts, and testing new concepts. According to his theory you have a preferred learning style, but you generally go through all four stages. So, what happend with me?

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Continue reading “Learning loop”

Being creative versus earning a living

Making a living from your craft is a challenge. You are no longer focussing on your craft solely. Being creative and contributing to a better world are opposing values to earning a living and building a public image, values you need to pursue as (senior) employee or entrepreneur. Jacob Waites recommends to shut down the computer and keep making stuff by hand. Underlining this story is a typical value conflict experienced by many designers. Read the full blog here.

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The Anecdote

This how it all started a long time a go, when my PhD was just a seed.

As junior I worked as freelance consultant. One value I hold dear, is sustainability. Working on free projects, I could pursue this value. However, to get food on the table, I had to accept projects that had nothing to do with sustainability. After a discussion with a client about considering sustainability in the project or not, I became frustrated. I realized later, I was dealing with two opposing values. I lacked tools to effectively deal with this value difference and as a result I quit my freelance business.

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Lecture on Value-Sensitive Design

Given by J.v.d.Hoven from Delft University of Technology

Figuur values map

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