Master your freedom at This happened #11

Last Monday This happened #11 took place at Theater Kikker again. Another great event in the series. It was also a bit special because we at did support the event together with Springtime. But that of course does not influence the event, the fine ensemble of speakers did the trick again.

First of was Roy Gilsing, the designer and iniator of Grabbit. A handgrip for the iPad. It do free your movements with your tablet, as Ianus shared from his own practice. 

Roy did share his journey from first intention to create something by himself free from the demands of a client, to the choices in concepts from pallet style to the current baseball handshoe one. A genuine product designer story.
An interesting part was the experience with Kickstarter. That did not really work out for Grabbit. A charming product alone is not enough, you need to do real promotion. 
He also learned the hard practice of an Apple accessory maker. You need to be in sync with the lifecycle of the Apple product to maximize the benefits, as a new version makes the accessory out-of-date. In that sense the hardware business is a lot different from the software.

Second presenter was Elger Blitz of Carve, a design studio specialized in designing playgrounds. He showed a project he designed in The Hague Escamp especially for disabled children. We learned that the disabled are not only the physicially ones, in a way we are all disabled; nobody has the same capacities. 
Nice insight was that you make the best products in this area if you master the regulation game. He knows the rules inside out and can use that in the design. As example he designed the wall as climbing wall so that the path on top could keep an open fence.  
Above all, the approach of Elger showed a great case in designing for open-ended play as we know it from Kars.

After the break Mattijs Kneppers presented the tooling of Eboman he made. He used his iPad with a Grabbit and performed a presentation style that fits the work of Eboman, scratching pictures and sounds, floating over the canvas. 
It was fun to see how the spaghetti in Max software could create the product. The presentation took us really into the world of Eboman. 

The controls of the mixers differ from the device you use. The suit Eboman uses on stage has not the same freedom as the software version. A prepared set of samples is needed. Advantage is that it makes it possible to involve amateur in the mixing process. The suit limited the number of choices which makes it more usable.

A theme that was clearly visible in the last talk, done by Adam Fletcher of The Hipstery. Out of a personal frustation on the unlimited number of choices we have he models a service around buying carefully handpicked t-shirts. In an entertaining talk, he showed us the way the service works. He mingled some visions on option overload and decission making: less choice delivers better decissions.
In the discussion afterwards some interesting thoughts were discussed. What you buy is not the handpicked t-shirt but the experience. The return sendings are extremely low because it is in the end not important which shirt you receive as long as the experience of ordering is fulfilling. A combination of entertainment in the process and the freedom from chosing stress.

There is however also a kind of contradiction as Elger Blitz showed us. With our regulations for children we create an overprotective world and a next  generation that is totally unprepared for life. The same goes for the augmented present knowledge we have, providing us from running into the right amount of friction to learn. Delegating your choice to a service like The Hipstery is in essence the same.

The concept of open-ended play is in that sense not the same as being free to do what you want. That makes it also a real design challenge, how to create enough friction to be able to master your freedom. Something we can discover in all talks.

It almost feels like no surprise that This happened itself will free itself in a way by creating a pop-up version. Next time it will connect to other events. Sure it will generate interesting combinations; hope to ran into one soon again. 

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

One thought on “Master your freedom at This happened #11”

  1. Open-end play vs. less choice.
    just a thought: while playing, making decisions is part of the fun.

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