Designing in the connected everyday

Things2Things was a one-year-long project of the 3TU Industrial Design programs in the Netherlands that ran from January to October 2016. The project brought together a community of almost 50 professional designers and design researchers to explore the role of design thinking in creativity and innovation within the field of the Internet of Things. We have captured the key insights generated during the workshops in a booklet that we are launching at the Dutch Design Week, DRIVE Festival for Design and Innovation.


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The people running this initiative have gone to great lengths to create bridges between design research and practice and build a community of ambitious and curious people. For design to be able to contribute to worldwide challenges, building these communities is of utmost importance. These are the people that joined the community.

Breathing life into a product or environment by giving it a personality and acting it out makes for a quick but powerful way of understanding the nuances of good smart product interaction.

Pieter Diepenmaat, Hoog+Diep (Objects with Intent)

In this workshop, we explored the question of how digital objects can be designed in such a way that they ”leave traces“ of the way they work. Rather than having shiny and smooth surfaces that reveal nothing of what is going on behind the screen, they might become interfaces through which users can engage with the bigger questions of our digital society such as dataveillance, commodification, and profiling. I am not yet sure how objects can be designed that way, but for me, the rich interactions of the workshop itself constituted such an interface. Would it be possible to design digital objects so that such interactions could become part of their daily use?

Dorien Zandbergen, University of Amsterdam (Im/Material Traces)

As the physicality of products is diluted by connectivity, data, and algorithms, T2T helped us understand that new design methodologies are needed to embrace the more intangible and uid forms of things-formerly-known- as-products.

Marcel Schouwenaar, The Incredible Machine (Predictive Materialities)

The Morse Things bowls and their difficult- to-grasp communication have thoroughly confounded us despite their beauty as dumb objects. There’s clearly much work to be done uncovering how to design networked objects so that our relationships with them are lasting and valuable.

Ryan Betts, HUMAN (Material Speculations)