Date created: 
Everyday designer
Internet of things
Autobiographical design

This doctoral work aims at articulating and deepening our understanding of how people design and make a space they live in with the goal of informing the design of interactive artifacts. While previous research described the appropriation and transformation of design artifacts through their everyday uses, those descriptions have focused mostly on discrete artifacts or systems. In this doctoral work, my goal is to go beyond unique instances by looking at the relations between design artifacts, ensembles of artifacts, and the spaces they are in. This dissertation puts forward the concept of design-in-living as a way to rethink the design of interactive artifacts and spaces. Design-in-living describes how everyday designers engage in multiple ways of designing by combining unconscious design acts, ad hoc design, and planned design activities in order to construct their built environment. Design-in-living occurs while living in a particular space over time and design acts are motivated by fit between artifacts, ensembles, and the space. As a result, the space is constantly and incrementally built, leading to an invariably unfinished space. The articulation of design-in-living emerged from the findings of four studies. Each study was previously published and the full text of those four studies is presented in this cumulative format dissertation. The four studies include 1) a critical literature review of human-computer interaction (HCI) research on the home, 2) an ethnography inspired study of the practices of design and making of three groups of non-expert designers, 3) the articulation of the conceptual construct of unselfconscious interaction, and 4) an autobiographical design project of converting a cargo van into a campervan. In addition to the conceptualization of design-in-living, this dissertation I pose a critical reflection on how to design for people who live with the Internet of Things, at home and beyond. Moreover, I offer a methodological reflection on the use of autobiographical design as a method of inquiry. Finally, this dissertation is addressed to interaction designers and HCI and design researchers who are interested in designing interactive artifacts that can become part of the making and designing practices in lived-in spaces.

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Ron Wakkary
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.