Interaction Design, Service Design, User-centred design, UX design…

2012-05-20
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Call it what you will…interaction, services, user-centred design…they all encompass moments of interactive experiences created for the people, by the people.  I put theory to practice by making the pilgrimage to IKEA yesterday because I felt cold to the bone and wanted to buy those 100-pk tealights called Glimma —you

Call it what you will…interaction, services, user-centred design…they all encompass moments of interactive experiences created for the people, by the people.  I put theory to practice by making the pilgrimage to IKEA yesterday because I felt cold to the bone and wanted to buy those 100-pk tealights called Glimma —you know you’ve been to IKEA far too many times when you recognise the product names  on your bill—and yes, I was procrastinating a bit as well. The looming abstract could wait, I told myself; I needed to be relatively warm to write it properly.  The trek across London took even longer than I had anticipated, for I had forgotten the game at Arsenal and chose to hop back on the bus to Angel (rather than walk 400 metres above the Highbury & Islington station where a sea of people from the stadium were making their way down through the temporary barriers to access the tube) before making my way up to Tottenham Hale.  Once inside the Swedish beacon I immediately made my way over to the canteen for the predictable, consistent Swedish cultural message of meatballs and mash.  The queue took awhile and I overheard snippets of future planning from two twenty-something guys:  moving to New York, buying something in London first.  Before it was my turn to order, I observed the activity happening behind the counter and watched the guy on the left asking customers what they wanted to have, then dictating to the guy on the right “gravy,” “peas.”  The poor guy on the right had been robbed of all dignity as a human being; he had actually been reduced to replicating robotic movements of slopping gravy onto the plate without speaking; he did not even glance at me when handing over the plate of food, even though I smiled and thanked him politely.  I was taken aback by this method of serving and wondered if it was protocol, or if the guy on the left had decided to create his own system.  Did he think he was being ‘helpful’ to the overall system by absorbing everything at the onset of the process?  Did he think this a ‘more efficient’ way of taking care of the customers? I wondered if he had any idea how his behaviour was affecting the other chap. Next, I turned my attention to the seating area and watched how children had created their own living room experience at IKEA—toys from the showroom had made their way over to the canteen and were casually flung about across tables, sofas, the floor, even.  I could not help but smile and wonder if IKEA had become the universal indoor playground for families on week-ends.  I imagined parents discussing between themselves, “where should we take the children today?” and the reply—well, you know the reply.