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“Are Designers Ready for the Future? A Cross-Cultural ProbeTest”

Abstract

The current pace of new technological advancements is bringing a need for designers to adapt to change even faster than before and consequently bringing new needs for designers as well as for the final user. It is important to instill the necessary adaptation skills to future designers. As such, a cross-cultural probe pilot test was done to evaluate how students are prepared to new technological advancements and how they would use them to create new product concepts. The probe test was a group task, and included a written questionnaire. Six Italian and six Portuguese participants were asked to create a concept of a product that would be part of the near future (10-15 years), within one of two categories (wearable and portable) and by following three mandatory and nine optional technological-based characteristics. Students mentioned that they did not know some of the technologies and how they could use them. They also expressed the need and interest in having the background of technological advancements taught in the Design curriculum, as well as having this type of creative thinking exercises to happen more often as it was a fun and challenging learning experience. Even though it was a pilot test, results show that design students are apt for change, but they are not comfortable to consider so far away as proposed. That might be due to the higher degree of certainty that certain technologies have to prevail. The next step for this research would be to have a larger sample (in a classroom environment) to better understand the importance of teaching the technological advancements in a design curriculum.

Keywords: Design students, cross-cultural probe test, and conceptualizing future products.




Özcan, B., Almendra, R., Are Designers Ready for the Future? A Cross-Cultural ProbeTest, International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation, Valencia, Spain, 2015.