People, design, technology and place: confluences of Interaction, Product and Interior Design

talk – 20 min | Feb 4 – 15:30

Showing good practice and discussing the challenges of teaching interaction design at an undergraduate level, as a dedicated degree yet in an interdisciplinary grouping alongside product design and interior design.

15 years since it began in Scotland, interaction design as an undergraduate degree still feels for us pioneering territory: exciting yet sometimes daunting. Maybe because of this––and certainly to its advantage––its relationships with other, longer established disciplines are important in blending the flavour of interaction design here (because no programme could ever support all of what interaction design is).

At DJCAD, the art college at the University of Dundee, we have chosen to align Interaction Design with Product Design and Interior & Environmental Design, in an academic grouping that we call ‘Social Digital’. This is because of shared values of ‘people, design, technology and place’, an emphasis of people-centred design and thinking through prototyping, of getting out of the studio and into the world and being hands-on with technology.

At the same time it is important that each programme retains its identity and therefore its unique contribution to this whole.

We will illustrate this balance with work from two undergraduate courses: ‘Designing Social Networks’, taken by interaction design undergraduates alone, asks them to visualise an online resource for a specific creative community; ‘Physical Digital’, shared with Product Design students, last year asked students to build a meter that measures or displays a socially-meaningful quantity. We will show this work.

On another occasion, students designed digital objects with one of their grandparents. We will show an excerpt from a film, ‘Inclusive’, commissioned by Microsoft and featuring one of our graduates and his grandmother talking about ‘Social Sewing’, a poetic digital system to reconnect a community of seamstresses in Athens.

We will also show how this balance influences the breadth of final self-initiated degree projects and ultimately the career paths our graduates have taken, for example with the BBC, IDEO, Goldsmiths Interaction Research Studio, Tesco Bank and Zone Digital.

Graham Pullin

Graham Pullin
DJCAD, University of Dundee

About the speaker

Graham Pullin

Graham Pullin

DJCAD, University of Dundee
Graham Pullin is Programme Director of BSc(Hons) Digital Interaction Design at DJCAD University of Dundee and co-founder of the Social Digital department. He is Reader in Disability-led Design: his book Design Meets Disability (MIT Press paperback, 2011) is a manifesto; his PhD ‘17 ways to say yes’ explored the tone of voice of speech generating devices. His undergraduates have appeared in the film ‘Inclusive’ by Microsoft and have created the Museum of Lost Interactions. Previously he was a Senior Interaction Designer and Studio Head at IDEO, where his work with others won an ISDA Gold Award for interaction design.


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