vivian chen @ stanford university
Music 256A: Music, Computing, and Design

HW0 Response
Artful Design, Chapter 1: “Design Is ______”

Reading Response

Below is my stream of consciousness regarding the following principle from the first chapter of Artful Design:
    Principle 1.13: Design is Human

That's a lot about design boiled down to just three simple words.

Now that I think about it, design exists solely because us humans exist. Whether it's "human-centered" design or "user-centered" design, human needs and limitations are usually placed in the highest priority. Neglecting common human physical characteristics means creating a product that people will not be able to use properly, so thinking about the human is the first obligatory step to making a product usable and applicable. Design is what motivates us to embrace and understand societies and cultures, yet it is also what drives us to reject the notion that technology can simply be plugged in and turned on by a switch. We are observers who need humans to inform designs. When we design, we not only focus on how humans will interact with technology, but also how humans interact with each other. The next time I design something, I won't start by deciding how people should use my product, but rather how they want to or will use the product - we ultimately design things for humans, not humans for technology.

On the front of functionality, it's important to realize that design is about how it solves a problem, not how something works. It's about empathizing with a certain audience. Humans solve problems...humans empathize. Good design connects people, understands their problems, and solves them.

Design Etude: Taking Notice, Means and Ends

Thing #1: Wedding RSVP

The last thing I received in the mail was an RSVP invitation card for my friend's wedding. The quality and design of the card is incredible, reflecting the significance of this event. Its purpose is clearly to notify the couple whether I am attending or not (in fact, it comes with an already stamped envelope to send back my RSVP), but it feels much more than just a few pieces of paper - to me, it's sort of an end-in-itself. It turns out that I can't go to the wedding, but having to check the box on the card for "will not attend" almost makes me feel sad and regretful that I cannot go. However, my favorite part is that the bottom of the card says, "A song that would get you out on the dance floor is: ______", giving me the impression that, even if I cannot physically be there, I can still (pseudo?) participate in some way. It makes me feel included.

Thing #2: E-Blue Mazer Gaming Mouse

I was a huge gamer during highschool and my early years at Northwestern. This was the one and only gaming mouse I ever owned, and I still use it to this day - even just as a normal mouse. It looks more expensive than it really is, especially with its cool, ergonomic design accentuated by blue LED lights that you can turn on and off. The DPI is also adjustable which gives it versatility. Besides its functional purpose of easily moving my cursor around the screen, it has a modern and quintessential sleek "gamer" aesthetic that I love.

Thing #3: Jaybirds

The function of these bluetooth earbuds is to allow me to listen to music. The best part is that they fit snugly in my ears without compromising sound quality and are great for listening to music especially while being active. They also come with a Jaybird phone app where the sound can be customized. The way the case charger holds the earbuds is aesthetically pleasing and inviting - it makes you want to open the case up like an easter egg, expecting to find a surprise inside.

Design Etude: Guerrilla Design

A couple weeks ago I made some dumplings. I could have simply poured the whole pot of dumplings out onto a plate after boiling them (as usual), but instead I took the time to arrange them semi-nicely. Just because.

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