Seminar at the Academy of Fine Arts in Braunschweig

Graduate-Designer Christoph Luchs taught the seminar Information_Interface between 2008 and 2012 within the module Basics of Design by Prof. Alexandra Martini at the course of studies in communications design. The focus of the seminar was teaching the basics of Information-Architecture and Interface Design.

Innovative learning- and teaching-concept

This territory was not only thematically explored: the seminar consisted of a combination of meetings, exercises, teamwork and theoretical blocks as lecture. As a weekend seminar from Friday to Sunday was ensured, so that the students are able to deal intensively with the topic. As an introduction a brainstorming session was chosen, which was deepened with a subsequent exercise in teams of two.

User Interface Design: Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow

This was followed by a compact lecture on the origin, present and future of the User Interface Design and the Human-Machine-Interface. Based on the impressions there often resulted a spontaneous discussion about future technologies like Google Glass, the prediction of human decisions or transparency of our digital life.

Teamwork with topic selection

At the focus of the seminar and thematic default there stand a joint design of interfaces. The students could combine from various target groups (children, business professionals, 60+), a place (in a strange environment, in the supermarket, home) and an action (orientation, …) based on a metaphorical construction kit of a topic.

Phases of the User Interface Design

Starting from a chosen theme the group of three to four students has advised about what and how something has to be implemented. The design should be based on the usual steps in Interface Design: Moodboard, persona, storyboard, layout, screendesign and prototype. Three case studies with different tasks and roles needed to be implemented with the interface idea.

Surprising results and product ideas

After a one-day design phase, a preparation of presentation followed. The interface ideas were presented by the groups in the plenary on the basis of two typical scenarios. The students chose very individual, surprising and entertaining presentations. Drink machines were modeled in life size, digital voice control were simulated or scenes between tourists, who could not communicate in one language, were replayed ready for the stage. Each group developed a compelling product or service idea, which was seen in a similar way in trade a few years later or is nearing production readiness today.

Interface Design is also Industrial Design

Although the seminar is located in the Department of Communication Design, it should teach students that different disciplines are involved in the design of an interface and only meaningful ideas can arise when designers think outside the box. There were, depending on the product idea, excursions in the product design and topics such as ergonomics or usability have been discussed with the lecturers and tutors. In the lecture, communications and sensor technologies have been introduced to ensure that the design students also were able to develop an idea of what daily life will be in the next few years.

Result: Teamwork

The modern and group-oriented form was a welcome change in the university practice of pure lecture or design exercises at weekly intervals for the students. Finally, the group works were evaluated consistently positive by the students. For many this was the first teamwork while studying!

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