Category Archives: Environmental Design

We Work Office Space

Presumptive Design

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As a self-professed codger, curmudgeon, and contrarian, I am increasingly disturbed that so many “designed solutions” of built environments have very little to do with design thinking, understanding users’ requirements, or meeting a specific goal. They are mostly just presumptive designs. By that I mean, the design meets a single or set of underlying assumption(s) most often based on rather tenuous logic.

Presumptive design has dominated approaches to workplaces for more than a decade, resulting in so-called designed solutions that include smaller and smaller individual space, more openness, and less enclosure. In truth, this meets one primary goal: reducing the cost per occupant of these workplaces.

retro kitchen

IKEA’s Kitchen of the Future

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Here is another great piece on innovation in one of the most important rooms in the house – the kitchen. And as with many of the other innovations in this area that we have shared here on EID it comes from Northern Europe. In this case from a partnership between IKEA, Lund University, and Eindhoven University – with an assist from that fantastic source of design thinking – IDEO.

The design students spent months researching people’s attitudes about cooking and eating and how the world of food might change over the next decade. After the students came up with more than 20 visions for future kitchens—from a shared community kitchen for city neighborhoods to an interactive chef’s hat that teaches kids to cook through games—Ideo built a working prototype.

bicycle

Park & Pedal

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The idea behind this design is quite clever. There are some people who are hardcore cyclists and will ride no matter what. There are even more people who will not bike no matter what. But there are millions of people in the middle who are among the “convertibles”. They are willing to consider it, at least some of the time. But it depends on the weather, the traffic, the convenience, and other factors. It is a simple case of motivational psychology. Perceived coherence of the context, perceived value of the benefits, perceived social status and norms, and so on.

Park & Pedal aims to ease traffic congestion into the city each morning as commuters clamber to make it to their jobs on time.It’s also meant to inspire more people to get out and exercise.

reusable shopping bag

The Entitlement Effect and Indulgence

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This is a simple example of the entitlement effect. At its essence, the entitlement effect is what happens whenever we feel like we have made progress towards a goal (or completed one). We feel entitled to reward ourselves for the progress by indulging. Sometimes the indulgence is directly related to the goal – for example rewarding ourselves after a big workout with an indulgent meal. Sometimes it is unconscious and only partially related – such as the junk food purchases in the @hiddenbrain story.

Researchers ran a couple of experiments, which suggest that when people visualize taking their own bags to get groceries, especially when they are doing it of their own accord and not because of a store policy, they’re more likely to indulge themselves and buy themselves treats.

Astronaut in space

Teams to the Extreme

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A recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science has a fantastic article from our own Ed Salas and his colleagues that expounds on the needs of teams for extreme missions such as space exploration. For me, this was a dreamy combination of some of my favorite topics: teamwork, space, extreme cases, and ideation.

Researchers from a variety of disciplines are currently working with NASA to prepare for human exploration of Mars in the next decades. Such exploration will take scientific discovery to new heights, providing unprecedented information about the geology, atmosphere, and potential for life on Mars, including previous life, current life, and perhaps even our own lives in the future. To make these unparalleled discoveries, however, astronauts will need to undertake a novel and unprecedented journey. Moreover, the mission to Mars will require a team of crew members who will have to endure and sustain team performance requirements never seen before. Multidisciplinary teams of scientists have begun to provide the needed steps to address this challenge.

home office

How ‘macro’ is Macro?

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Note from the Editor: We are pleased to have the first guest post from the site manager – France Jackson. I don’t expect it will be the last, so please give her a warm welcome as you post your comments.

We have done a series of articles centered around the workplace environment. There have been numerous pieces on standing desks, leaning workstations and a modern collaborative space. But with many companies shifting to mobile workers and telecommuting, the home has become the workplace for many Americans. According to Green Biz, companies can save up to $10,000 per employee a year by having workers telecommute. A recent article by Fast Company highlights the homes of some of the “top creatives from around the world”. The article mentions how creative offices spaces are designed to inspire, but inspiration starts at home.

estimote beacon and cell phone

Nearables

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Nearables is a cute name for a product developed by startup Estimote, along with its partner – design firm IDEO. Nearables are an application of beacon technology that I hope evokes some thought to take you through the weekend.

“Beacons are a little bit like URLs for the physical world,” says Steve Cheney, cofounder and senior vice president. “We don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out, from the experience level, but I think the apps you use the most will start to integrate beacon technology in a way where you assume it was always that way.”

Sunbway

Guerrilla Wayfinding

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One of the wisest pieces of design advice I have heard is that user centered design is not about letting the user design the system. It should focus on finding out your user’s pain points and needs and workarounds and preferences. Then have skilled HF and UX designers turn that wealth of information into a design.

fruit bar and lunch tray

Smarter Lunchrooms

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I am a member of the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. The organization does research and promotes best practices in the design of K-12 school lunchrooms using behavioral science, persuasive design techniques, ergonomics, social psychology, and other sciences and design methods. Simple things like putting healthier foods within easier reach and at the front of the line (when students’ trays are empty and their budgets are full) and the reverse for the junk food.

leaning workplace

Leaning Workplace

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I don’t know about you, but I find this to be incredible intriguing. I am not ready to say yet whether I think it would actually work, but it is certainly thought-provoking and a great topic for this week’s “Thought-Provoking Thursday.”

Forget standing desks. In the office of the future, you might lean instead—supported by giant rock-like sculptures that designers argue are a healthier, more active way to work than anything that’s come before. A prototype of the office design is now on display in Amsterdam.