Archive / INF Seminars / INF_2019_09_05_Ron_Wakkary
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Material Speculations


Host: Prof. Marc Langheinrich




USI Lugano Campus, room SI-003, Informatics building

Ron Wakkary
Simon Fraser University, Canada
I will discuss the design research we do at the Everyday Design Studio at Simon Fraser University. In particular, I focus on two studies, Philosophers Living with the Tilting Bowl and Morse Things: A Design Inquiry into the Gap Between Things and Us, to articulate relations with technology that go beyond interaction to explore design from non-human/posthuman perspectives. We call the research approach of these projects, material speculations. In material speculations, artifacts are designed to be lived with over long periods and are crafted to embody research questions or propositions through what we call counterfactual artifacts. A counterfactual artifact is a fully realized functioning product or system that intentionally contradicts what would be considered logical to create given the norms of design and design products. This countering of norms, or process of defamiliarization, opens the possibilities to empirically investigate multiple alternative existences (or what-ifs) as lived-with realities.

Ron Wakkary is full professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University in Canada where he is the founder of the Everyday Design Studio ( In addition, he is full professor in Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Future Everyday cluster. Wakkary is interested in design-oriented human-computer interaction (HCI) and the philosophies of technologies through design. Wakkary’s research investigates the changing nature of interaction design and HCI in response to new understandings of human-technology relations.