Interaction Design

Gillian Crampton Smith, Royal College of Art, London

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University September 26, 1998


One of the world's leading programs in Interaction Design is the program in Computer Related Design at the Royal College of Art in London. From their web page:

As new technologies develop, new fields of design emerge. This course is one of the pioneers of a new field - interaction design, the design of interactive products and experiences all now made possible by information technology. Though the course concerns design for emerging technologies, its focus is more on people than technology. It is about designing things that people will use and enjoy, drawing information technology into everyday culture.

Computing, electronics and telecommunications are rapidly merging to produce new products and media. The CRD course is currently involved in three main areas of work:

Professor Crampton Smith will talk about the work of her department and the growing role of artist-designers in the design of information technology . She will discuss the differing contribution of artist-designers and engineer designers.

Gillian Crampton Smith is the Professor and Department Head of Computer Related Design and at the Royal College of Art in London, Britain¹s graduate school of art and design.

After taking a degree in History of Art and Philosophy at Cambridge University, she followed her long-held interest in graphic design and worked in book and magazine design, spending four years on London¹s Sunday Times before going freelance. At the same time she wrote and designed an innovative series of comic strips on social topics for high schools.

In 1981 an issue of the typographic magazine Upper & Lower Case about computers in graphic design inspired her to buy a computer and to write a program to do magazine layouts on the screen‹early DTP. Convinced that other designers would have ideas about the way computers might be used, she set up the computer studio at St Martin¹s, one of Britain¹s leading art schools, and started the first graduate program for practising graphic designers.

She joined the Royal College in 1989. Her experience writing a page layout tool for designers convinced her of the important contribution designers could have in the design of the human-computer interface and she had expected, prematurely as it turned out, that by the mid-eighties this would be an important field of work for designers. She restructured the Computer Related Design program, then a CAD course, to concentrate on how traditional art and design skills and knowledge could be applied to the design of information technology. The program has strong links with industry, including a substantial collaboration with Interval Research. 


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