slow design

A speculative story


As life got faster and faster, the complexity of it increased. It started with consumption of the resources, then relationships and finally time. Designers and engineers kept working to create tools that will help people cope with this high pace life, making all the tasks less time consuming to allow the consumption of more… and more.. and more.. By 2015 people were already buried under the digital speed, by 2020 ubiquitous computing, ease of data access and productivity requirements due to the increased competition made the attention span so little, that anything that was “in”today was “out” tomorrow.

Usability and user friendliness became highly important to avoid all the friction by making the interactions smooth and seamless. Computers started reacting to your needs just merely by thought processing and new services popped up every day to bring you the world in the comfort of your house. The loss of friction had an unexpected effect, it was killing the opportunity of reflection and depth. Even though, it was a naturally occurring course, the industrialized system made good use of this.

Designers got better at producing even more user friendly tools, such as computers that react to youwithout you even stating what you need or services that bring you everything you need in the comfort of your home, interactions offered less and less friction which in turn left no chance for reflection. The smoothness of the tasks raised the expectations for humans to be more like machines. The increasing pace of a human life after the industrialization continued its acceleration where eventually it reached a point where anyone that didn’t reach to the pace of the machine was considered to be useless to the society.

The world did not become robotized at once, but human to human interactions (HHI) started decreasing drastically, since computers and smart devices did not lose time through those kind of interactions. Work/ life balance slowly disappeared as remote working, mobile technologies and brain implants became commonplace, leaving you no place to hide from the work. Even when for some wicked reason, you didn’t get any work related messages, you were lulled to a passive state due to the social cloud apps that came preinstalled with the implants.

HHI regulations put an end to face to face meetings and casual chatter, which in turn turned all the relationships into busiships (a business relationship, much like what we know as networking today) where you were free to buy and sell busis (the business friends) depending on their qualities work. It was far from being a currency, but if your busi was putting someone for sale, it meant a huge drop in their sociodigital credibility. Since face to face interactions diminished noticeably, the connection had to be made via the

Many of the activities that once was considered as daily practices such as going out for a walk, talking with a friend and even religious affairs started to get integrated into the work life. In fact, for a while the workspace was considered to be the sanctuary of modern life. just like the ancient deities, the material gods asked for services and sacrifices, which resulted in the creation of Workship Lines in every office where workers sacrificed their times in assembly lines.  The holy Book of Fast entitled many principles such as “You stop you die!”, “Don’t you want to be something, more than anything?” and “Nobody will like you unless you win the race”.

It was that, the workship lines that led the system to fail. Due to the dullness of the ritual, the workshippers started getting into a more meditative state of mind. This in turn caused the brain implants to malfunction, leaving silence instead of the non-ending hum of the social cloud. In the silence, people started finding themselves. Small revolts started here and there and everywhere. The food pill movement was the first, followed by many, but the story we will tell now is about a small (in fact they were only 2, Shane Huxley and Maureen Sade) order named “Slow New World”.

The activities of the slow new world, started from where they were the most: the office. There were many offices in the town, but this particular office was a design office and it was called “the factory” due to the endless working hours of the employees. The “designers” were still able to work with only 1 day off in 3 months and they were preprogrammed in their brains to feel guilty and sinful when they took the time for reading a book. The factory was where all the smoothness was created. It worked like a clock and even the creativity was standardized, so that they could do more without thinking or going deeper…

Due to the policy “Report Inefficiency”, they were highly monitored so they all worked separately to bring a change to the office. 

Shane Huxley was a guy in his sixties and remembered how it all started. He was one of the very happy kids that got his first computer but he never expected things to become this way. He grew up in a family with long dinners accompanied with chatters and laughter. But the more devices that were introduced, the less time they had for chatting. He remembered very clearly the day his mother bought a washing machine, both his mother and father seemed to be very pleased by this amazing. Until that day, he and his father washed the dishes while his mother prepared the “after dinner tea”, but the ads clearly promised that they will “save time that you can later on use to spend quality time with your family”. After that day, there were always dishes to wash, kitchen to clean and that promise of “saved time” never came. The night before he left to join the work force, he was stuffing “responsibly produced chicken wings that are not really chickens nor wings” to his mouth, alone but connected in his room, typing and texting while watching the latest episode of some well-known series. He texted his parents goodbye as he left the door, never to come back again. Not until that day while he was workshipping in the booknomore line where they disassembled old books to create fast reading pieces out of them, he was reminded of a book that his father read him slowly, savoring each word and taking his time every night, spending time to make the book just more interesting. His understanding of “spent time” shifted that day and he craved for deeper interactions that revealed slowly.

(Principle of choice: Reveal. Creating interactions that stretch the time or reveal instances from everyday life. Thinking about the experience rather than efficiency. Creation: E-brynth – a slower interaction with the messages you receive in your smart devices. E-brynth is a palm sized creation that is connected to your device via an induction magnet. When you receive a message, it requires you to move a ball to the center of a labyrinth. The same applies when you want to send a message. Main motivation: Bringing back the care and consciousness to the digital HHI situations, since physical HHI is somewhat impossible to achieve in a heartbeat)

Maurelle Sade was born to this era. Her time was spent in the playground centers where kids were collected together in big buildings and taught how to “play efficiently”. In these centers not only they learnt how to build busiships, the children were also protected from the dangers of the outside world. They were always given a task which was evaluated by the time they complete it, so they learnt fast that it was never about the value, but the time. Maureen was a curious kid with pouring creativity but long hours of play buried these traits down deep inside. She grew up to be a gentle, silent member of the society and forgot what it was like to create. Not until one day she was workshiping in the thought extraction line (because talking was no longer efficient enough) emerged deeply into the assembly of suction poles, which were made by the combination of birch extract (trees have amazing thought extraction properties, one may notice how their thoughts become clear and light when they sit by a tree for some time) and nano carbon tubes. While she was separating the birch bark into tiny bits, her motions slowed down and she got a splinter. Instinctively she took her hand to her mouth and at that moment she could smell, taste and feel the tree. From that moment on, a fire to bring nature closer kindled in her, never to fade away.

(Principle of choice: Reflect. Reconnecting us to the environment around us and become aware of the moment. Creation: Naturalize – a carpet that reflects the outside world. Walking on the carpet gives you audio and sensory feedback on the season and weather outside. When you step on the carpet, it feels like walking on dry leaves or snow. Main motivation: The phrase “walk like your feet is kissing the ground”. Since going outside during work hours is strictly forbidden, she aims to remind people of the rhythms of the outside world.)

The SNW order worked undercover in the office to deliver their message and hack people’s workspaces. They also have a little book called “thoughts on slow” which they wrote at the back of the electronic packaging, using a poorly made carbon structure that acts as a pen (since the use of physical pen and paper has long forgotten, with the hands only familiar to typing or even just voice recognition). 

The activities of SNW has unfortunately been found out by the work force and the founders were exiled. Their creations were somehow saved by some of the followers but never to be used again. Their book “thoughts on slow” has been an inspiration to many and even though the order was terminated the ripple effect of their ideas and principles continued long after they were gone.



Meta Design

Yes, we do user centered design but where is the desiger himsellf lies in this picture. We cannot say that the designer don’t put himself completely in his product. No designer designs what the user wants, but what they think the user wants. We are hightly integrated in our designs. (but i think that wasnt the point i was trying to make.)

We talk about the sustainability of design, sustainability of the work we do. But what about the sustainability of the worker, the designer? If we continue pushing ourselves through deadlines, take fast decisions, contribute to a cirlce that we don’t even know if we wanted to contribute’ because we never had the chance to reflect, will we last?`When will the burnout come? Put aside the late nights, no breaks and carrying your work with you all day, the fact that you need to create a design that you aim to change the world with, in a few months? wouldn’t you really want to put some more time in? or some more depth? understanding? engaging? what happens to your designs after you make them? yes, we do user tests during the process. but what about after? have you ever followed up with your design? how did it touch people, how did people interact with your design?


Some inspiration

guerrilla-graphics-09hAnna Hillman – Guerilla Graphics
Guerrilla graphics involves chalking up messages to question, suggest or simply just to point out something about the immediate environment, in order to share what you’ve discovered with others who might be passing by later.


Stefan Seigmeister – Power of time off
Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook. He explains the often overlooked value of time off and shows the innovative projects inspired by his time in Bali.

delayomatHolger Klapperich – Delay-o-mat
The delay-o-mat is a vending machine with two opportunities of delivery: Fast or delayed. In the slow track,the can is handled with care and the performance and the delivery is entertaining. When the user chooses the fast delivery, the quality of the experience is poorer.

slow_stamp_600Inna Alesina – Test Kitchen for Change
Test Kitchen for Change produces participatory bread making events that encourage people to embrace slower processes in their lives.

More to come…


Research objectives and plan


My aim is for this project to be experimental and iterative in nature. This unknown territory scares me as well as it excites me, but I believe school should be the place to explore and learn. So regardless of its final outcome, I trust this project will give me a wider perspective and help me to understand interaction design better and uncover design fields that I haven’t set foot on such as participatory design, slow design and generative design research.

The secondary research about slow movement, sociology, time perception as well as slow design, participatory design and technology has been going on since the beginning of the project. It is now followed by primary research with a focus on the indications and inspirations to understand better the feelings, thoughts and habits of the people through interviews, cultural probes and workshops.

Even though the project is divided into three main parts, research, ideation and design, the line between these parts will get blurry due to the experimental approach taken. All the phases will be feeding each other throughout the project, though the focus will shift depending on the desired outcome. 

bubblessResearch Areas

The initial area of research is kept wide spread to understand the field of opportunities. With time and further research, the interest areas will be identified and some areas will be eliminated.

Determining the steps for your own process is harder than working in a group and following a more or less structured design process. I know that I need to improve my prioritizing and structuring systems, since I tend to ask too many questions and blur my focus. Having this in mind, I will try to understand my main direction during the research phase and structure my process accordingly.

Project: Slow

What is this project about?

We are living in a world that gets faster every day. Not that I don’t like our fast moving, information rich world, but I believe as we move into the cities and get disconnected from the land, many of us forget how things take time in nature. This is why I want to explore what it means to slow down in urban life and can we actually do that?

So, with this project, I am hoping to create tools or spaces that will empower and inspire people to embrace slower processes in life.


How are you going to do that?

Well, I actually don’t know yet : ) But I know that I want the outcome to create conversations, question the existing ways and inspire people. Throughout the project I aim to take interaction design as my main vehicle and explore methodologies from slow design, slow technology and co-design to see what the process will gain from this collaboration.

What is slow?

As Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, puts:

“Being Slow means that you control the rhythms of your own life. You decide how fast you have to go in any given context. If today I want to go fast, I go fast; if tomorrow I want to go slow, I go slow. What we are fighting for is the right to determine our tempos.”