I am Jordy Rooijakkers, a 27 year old Industrial Design graduate of the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
With the Internet of things expanding rapidly, more and more devices are getting connected to each other. The tendency to control these arisen systems is to use dedicated control panels, mobile- or tablet applications. All are created from a technological perspective. The human aspect is limited to a cognitive process of pressing buttons and navigating through menus. Even in new cars the experience of a handbrake is transformed from a lever to a button push. Although often aimed to make our lives easier and more comfortable, automation and simplification of interaction also disrupts our understanding of the world around us. This can for instance be seen in the dematerialization of money, where people literally have less feeling for what they are spending. Designers need to be aware of this, and take responsibility for their design implications on the user and society in the same way as with product sustainability. Humanizing technology by taking a user focused perspective to system design, and creating unity between aesthetics and meaningful interaction can improve every aspect of the product’s or system’s intention, ranging from experience to simply understanding the system’s capabilities. One of my goals in designing is therefore humanizing complex systems and creating meaningful product and system interactions by combining the powers and qualities of form, senses and technology.
Building upon that, we can get more attached to the products we use in our everyday life. I believe that product meaning and attachment can be shaped in the interactions we have with them. Good examples of attachment to products are the relations classic car enthusiasts have with their cars and guitar players with their guitars. They genuinely care for their products and even use them as an extension of their identity. Although this process is also related to time, this product attachment lacks in a lot of current technological products and systems in our western society. To some extent this not caring results in overconsumption and the discarding of products rapidly. Mobile phones are a good example of this. We even use an economical model which directs us towards the purchase of a new one every one or two years. Although we relate to the content we use on our phones, we have no lasting connection anymore to the physical device itself. This process can be altered in a positive way when a user feels more connected to and cares for his or her product.
As a designer I am constantly questioning the status quo: why do we do the things we do the way we do them? I like to analyze how we as humans use products and systems in our daily lives to find opportunities to design for. When found, I will develop a vision on how I see this product or system can evolve in the future. This is often the start of a new project, from whereon my determination to build and show this vision for a better society drives me and motivates me throughout the development process.
I also draw my inspiration from nature. How nature solves complex problems is fascinating and quite often can be abstracted to use in technological designs. Not only on the level of mechanical design, but also with intelligent behaviour of animals and the way we as humans relate to that. However, technology itself to me is not a goal, but a tool or ‘ingredient’ in my designs. I don’t see myself as someone who designs technical products, but as a designer who uses technology as an enabler of possibilities in a design.
Two properties that define my way of working are my ability to look very critical at my own work and my striving for perfection: they help me to have an eye for details. I strongly believe that designing details significantly can improve the quality of the whole. These properties also help me to ask myself ‘Why am I not satisfied yet?’ in order to look back and improve what I’m making. An approach to designing that is also typical for me is that I work hands-on as much as possible. I need to think with my hands. I strongly believe that by modeling and prototyping I find solutions and new possibilities which I cannot find in a two dimensional way like writing or drawing. I literally need to experience what I have.
Drawing inspiration from nature in movement