Bridging the GAP between product and user: A design framework to establish a free relationship with tehnology

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Graduate School
In a world dominated by technology, the way we interact with products and built environment has a significant impact on our lifestyle, mental health, social interactions, and more fundamentally our relationship with nature. The thesis "Bridging the GAP Between Product and User: A Design Framework to Establish a Free Relationship with Technology" acknowledges this impact and seeks to enhance the quality of human life by suggesting ways of bridging the GAP between product and user. A fundamental assumption in this work is that design can influence our behavior, our habits, and the very fabric of our society. When a product is designed thoughtfully, it not only serves a functional purpose but also cultivates a more virtuous life. This involves designs that promote wellbeing, facilitate meaningful relationships, encourage sustainable practices, and foster gratitude towards nature's gifts. The core argument of the thesis calls for a transformation in our understanding and interaction with technology, shifting from an instrumental view towards acknowledging it as "techne-logos". The essence of this argument is the necessity for a design framework that nurtures a more organic, holistic, and interconnected interaction with technology, thereby bridging the GAP between users and products. This shift is paramount in an era where technology is an integral part of our daily lives and not merely a luxury or a tool. It permeates every facet of our existence, from communication and work to education, entertainment, and healthcare. Seeing technology as "techne-logos" invites us to consider it not merely as an instrument, but as a combination of art, craft, and understanding. It is about recognizing technology as an embodiment of human creativity and rationality that intertwines with our lives. In this perspective, technology becomes an extension of human intent, a harmonious interaction that enhances human capacities, and an avenue for expressing human values and aspirations. It allows for a symbiotic relationship where we shape technology, and technology shapes us, in a cycle that promotes growth, understanding, and a higher quality of life. This transformative view of technology, as proposed in this thesis, encourages us to reconsider our relationship with technology and nature, thus opening new pathways for a more integrated and humane technological future. Recognizing and respecting nature's offerings forms an integral part of leading a virtuous life. Our position here is to elevate design beyond mere materialistic goals – utilizing sustainable materials or reducing waste – and deeply permeating in the very ontology of the design process, embodying a more profound, phenomenological understanding of our relationship with nature. This thesis emphasizes the importance of 'being-in-the-world' and our interconnectedness with our environment. We argue that recognizing our existence is not separate from nature, but deeply rooted within it, helps us understanding and integrating nature into our design process. This may transform design into a reflective process where the design itself mirrors the rhythm of nature, where design learns from nature's efficiency, resilience, and interconnectedness, where encourages us to empathetically understand nature, not as an object to be used, but as a partner to co-exist with. In this regard, the design framework presented in the thesis seeks to bridge the GAP between products and users. It aims to foster a more holistic, symbiotic, and empathetic relationship with technology and nature. It incorporates various contemporary initiations towards this end which respect human dignity, nature's bounty, and the wider ecological system including design approaches and methodological tools. The objective is not just to create functional and efficient products, but to enable a harmonious relationship between users, products, and nature. Chapter 1 sets the stage by presenting the purpose, significance, scope, and limitations of the study. The thesis is driven by the necessity to comprehend the current relationship between products and users and to develop a holistic framework that encourages a more symbiotic connection. The research design is outlined to elucidate the study's trajectory, and the research objectives and questions emphasize on exploring, understanding, and bridging the GAP between product and user. In Chapter 2, a comprehensive literature research is presented to explore the concept of the "GAP". By discussing cognitive, behavioral, and embodied approaches, the study investigates various aspects of product-user relations. This chapter reveals that this GAP is a complex product of Cartesian dichotomies, instrumentalization of technology, and linear models of innovation, all of which have influenced the evolution of products from hand-crafted items to the current era of digital products. It also explores the conceptual positioning of the product and user, shedding light on how the 'blackbox' nature of finished products and the passive persona of users contribute to the GAP. Furthermore, the chapter scrutinizes the role of the market as a reckless organizer of complex networks of relations, leading to a widening of this GAP. The chapter then moves towards strategies and approaches for bridging the GAP. It explores contemporary design approaches like inclusive and user-centered design, sustainable and ethical design, and innovative design strategies. Further, it delves into user-driven innovation and development strategies such as the Prosumer/Prosumption strategy, social innovation, and responsible innovation. This segment also includes a discussion on education and empowerment strategies like promoting digital citizenship and lifelong learning, community-driven development, policy and regulation for sustainable development, and interdisciplinary collaboration for sustainability. The chapter concludes with a discussion on Heidegger's philosophy and its implications for design emphasizing that Heidegger's philosophy forms the backbone of the HOOME design framework proposed in this thesis. Chapter 3 presents the research methodology of the study. The strategy of the study is outlined, along with the theory construction method. The crux of the thesis, a new design framework titled "Holistic Overarching Design Framework from Ontology to Methodology – HOOME" is introduced. Its layered structure and dimensions are explained in detail, including its ontological layers (Being and Understanding) and methodological layers (Constructing and Sustaining). HOOME Design Framework aims to facilitate a free relationship with technology, free from the constraints of traditional industrial methods, and to allow the realization of alternative technological possibilities. This is demonstrated through its application in several industrial design studio projects. Each project's design process and outcomes are analyzed, providing practical insight into the implementation of the framework. The evaluation of the proposed framework's effectiveness forms a crucial part of the study. This was achieved through a two-stage expert evaluation process, applying both binary and Likert scale evaluations. Chapter 4 presents results and discusses the expert evaluation of the HOOME framework and its applications in the design projects, providing a thorough breakdown of the results from two stages of expert evaluation, both for individual projects and for the overall design process and framework. The rich dataset revelaed by the expert evaluation validates the effectiveness of the HOOME Design Framework and demonstrates its potential in addressing the GAP between product and user in design. Chapter 5 concludes the thesis, encapsulating the research journey and underlining the implications of the study. How the study contributes to current design knowledge, shedding light on the existing GAP between products and users and proposing a novel, holistic, overarching design framework to bridge this GAP is presented. The HOOME framework, in essence, is argued to redefine the user-product relationship, laying a foundation for more user-centric, ethical, sustainable, and responsible product design and use. Through this comprehensive journey, the thesis calls for a reorientation of our perspective towards product design and user interaction. By developing a holistic framework, it provides a robust platform to bridge the GAP between users and technology, fundamentally shifting the way we interact with and perceive technology in our everyday lives.
Thesis(Ph.D.) -- Istanbul Technical University, Graduate School, 2023
Anahtar kelimeler
product, ürün, product design