Antoni Gaudí and Interaction Design: thoughts about nature and sustainability

If you ever been to Barcelona, you’ve probably visited Antoni Gaudi’s famous places: La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Park Guell and Batllo House. Everywhere in the city you can see his fantastic and incredible master pieces.
Gaudi was an architect and designer. His inspiration was founded around nature. Organic compositions, vibrant colours and breath-taking buildings are part of his work.
But what does it have to do with interaction design? While interacting with his work, a few aspects called my attention: the sense of spirit and respect towards nature, organic interaction with objects, the integration of elements (consistency), colour information, attention to detail and his inverted model of visualisation. Most important, however, was Gaudi’s respect towards life. This could be explained not only by nature but the thought about human interaction inside those buildings. For example, in the Batllo House,  waves in the window’s glass could bring a sensation of being inside the water. Nature had a purpose in his work. This shows that the integration of natural forms is part of interaction design. But also the inclusion of human factors in the centre of the design process. With that, I’ve selected a few elements: nature, maths, storytelling and reutilisation of resources.
Tiles at the Batllo House
Tiles at the Batllo House
Nature
Gaudi’s relationship with nature was almost spiritual. One of his most wonderful works is La Sagrada Familia: a breath-taking church, built around natural forms. In interaction design, it is crucial to understand the context of each experience. The lesson that we can learn from Gaudi is that natural forms can evoke a certain familiarity and a sense of belonging. This could be evoked by different elements, textures, colours and combination of those elements. This reminds me of the old term Bionics and its applications around biological methods.

Toccata e fuga Bologna /Barcellona.#lapedrera #barrigotic #casabatllo #sagradafamilia ….tapas birra shopping😄😄😄

A photo posted by Barbara Roncaglia (@barbara_roncaglia_) on

Mathematical approach
Maths were also mentioned in Gaudi’s work. This could also evoke a sensation of “perfection”, particularly through mathematical equations utilised to build organic forms. The columns in the Sagrada Familia church were built around hyperbolic equations, in order to sustain the weight of the pillars and the roof. This could suggest that in interaction design, it is important to follow natural patterns of interaction. Mathematical models of structure could be also effective while dealing with interaction design projects.
Storytelling
Another important element was storytelling. Every detail in the church could tell a story. This suggests that integration of elements and narrative are crucial while designing interactive projects. The attention to the order of problems and the representation of this narrative could also bring a sense of flow and understanding. This logical order of information is crucial.
Reutilisation of resources
Most of the decoration was reutilised from old pieces of glass. This reminds me of sustainability. I remember listening to the audio at Bartllo House: Gaudi started to think in terms of sustainability even before the term “sustainability”. This reutilisation was organic and natural. We couldn’t see that glasses were reutilised to bring different textures to Gaudi’s work. This integration was crucial. As an individual walking inside and outside his buildings, I’ve felt inside a wonderland of fantastic and useful objects at the same time. It was like a mix of hedonic and utilitarian approaches all at the same time. For sustainability, Gaudi just ticked the boxes of sustainable interaction design. The promotion of both renewal and reuse was in his work and integrated with the whole building.
Sustainability is a word that has a strong relationship with Gaudi’s work. Some say that it is a reflection of sustainable architecture, represented by good utilisation go green spaces and coherent constructions. Gaudi’s work can also inspire Design Thinking and human-centred design. For example, Gaudi was able to empathise with human needs and expectations, looking at human interaction with the environment and replicating it into buildings.
Of course, in terms of sustainable behaviour, it was unlikely that after being at Gaudi’s buildings you would remember to save energy. However, the main sensation while being around his buildings was that we have to respect nature. It sounds cliche, but the experience was that we are part of the environment and we have the power to change our surroundings. Gaudi’s legacy is unquestionable. If you have the chance, please go to Barcelona and visit his fantastic buildings!
La Sagrada Familia - Photo taken by the authorLa Sagrada Familia – Photo taken by the author

Designing with details [#isa2012]

Today’s post it’s about microinteractions and the importance of the details. Last week we had a conference about interaction design (#ISA2012) in São Paulo and I decided to make separated posts about the talks.
Microinteractions are the way we experience detailed events. So, when we try to approach a design process with attention to details, we are talking about creating microinteractions. Thus, while trying to solve massive problems through design tools, the details are often lost during the process. We should work by the bottom up system, giving more attention to small things. This is the theme of Dan Saffer’s new book, “Microinteractions“.

Do one task well
Improving the microinteractions is creating engagement. This means that we should attempt to small details. “The details are not the details. They make the design” – Charles Eames. So, details must be seen as special parts of one big project.
Besides, it’s better to manage and control the work, when we are building a fragmented and complex scenario. For example, creating a small form, or the feedback from translation words on Facebook.

Transform moments into instances of pleasure
Microinteractions are good for accomplish a single task. We can interact with a small piece of data and get the maximum of feedback from it or even create a small part of content that is totally relevant.

Do not overlook microinteractions
If the interaction is poor, the features get surrounded by pain and frustration.
While designing, we must consider the big picture and details to improve the user experience.

Multi-platform
Small interactions fit well on small devices. Dan Saffer says that while designing microinteractions we can adapt the features to each device, allowing consistency.

Previewing actions
With the attention to details and micro interactions we can try to preview actions. This happens when we focus in loops and modes, by the tripod made of trigger, rules and feedback. It’s about bringing the data forward and understanding the user needs.
A good feedback can transform they way we learn the rules and the loops.

Patterns
I think that maybe with established microinteractions, we can try to create interaction patterns. So while designing a product, we can see which small interactions are concrete. It’s like going to the library and follow a guideline. Perhaps with an accurate pattern, we can develop tools for a better experience. If the big picture can be created by microinteractions and detailed experiences, we can try to approach to human interactions.

References
Designing for Interaction
Changing Perspective: A New Look At Old Problems
Touching the desktop – Modern micro-interaction and burdens of the past
Interfaces on the go

photo credit: four points via photopin (license)

Creating meaningful interactions through games [#isa2012]

Yesterday, I posted about Prototyping experiences. Last week we had a conference about interaction design(#ISA2012) in São Paulo and I decided to make separated posts about the talks.

During the third talk of the day, Olli Leno, explained why the future of games is emotional and how we can relate experiences and cognition.

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Meaningful playability

We create meaning from the quest for more emotional computer games, transforming games into playable artifacts. Olli Leno says that emotions define the way we relate to experiences, that’s why it’s important to design meaningful and emotional playability.
The future of games is emotional, not technological. Games are in pre-Citizen-Kane Era. They need to be reinvented in terms of content and address some issues from the real world. You need to feel the game as you are feeling the real world.

Playing is believing
Play is a primal mental action and emotions are judgments and interpretations of the world. The more we care, stronger is the emotion. This is known as a relative intensity.
The origins of the emotions in play is the interpretation of the game. The system’s content is the object of emotion.

Engagement and context

Caring about is a necessary condition for emotional judgment. So, why do players care? They do it because of threats of violence, rules, goals, challenges… Therefore if the challenge is right, the game is fun.
Games can also transform the context and its artifacts. Playable tools and elements can be meaningful if we create playable forms from this context. For example: a pinball machine it’s a game that became material.

Game-rules x rules
The players can get a positive description of the game behavior or rules that they need to incorporate. We are responsible for the freedom we enjoy and choose.

The possibility of failure makes playability
The GAME OVER meaning is that, you can fail in your quest. What makes Tetris playable? That you can lose. Failure is about significance. It provides a baseline for caring about in-game objects.
The Sims, for example, is a sandbox and it has no pre-defined goals but lots of opportunities to fail (like setting fire into the kitchen and letting your Sims to die)

But how to create caring?
Players need to survive in the game world. This creates a fear of failure that moves the game forward and gives an emotional commitment to the scenario.
The context became material and meaningful, so the players don’t want to lose the game, because it’s important to them to maintain this relationship.

Interaction through meaning
So when we create emotions through games, it’s possible to understand and offer more experiences for the players through meaningful choices. In order to create a complete interaction, we need to consider the logic of caring, emotional cognition and feedback.

References
On simulation, aesthetics and play: Artifactual Playground
Bringing emotions to video games
What is Love?
Social psychology
Emotions about the Deniable/Undeniable: Sketch for a Classification of Game Content as Experienced

photo credit: Art of Video Games Exhibit 15104 via photopin (license)