Embracing Change

BDES 1201 — Week 12

This weeks readings will be taking a look into the topic of technological integration within the world of design and everyday life, using the texts “Design and the Elastic Mind” by Paola Antonelli and “Exhibition Reviews: Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects” by Shannon Mattern.

Paola Antonelli explores the role designers hold within a world that is forever rapidly changing with new technologies and creations. She begins by stating revolutionary innovations that were created over the last 150 years Change isn’t always easily accepted by society, that is why the ability to adapt plays such an important role. Antonelli explains that allowing yourself to be adaptable and flexible without it interfering with our goals is extremely important, and this is especially crucial within design. It is the designers fundamental tasks is to help people deal with these revolutions that occur within our societies. “Designers stand between revolutions and everyday life” (Antonelli, 14)

This reading particularly applies to what we currently are going through, a major period of change. Designers are one of the main reasons why we can manage and adapt with the times of COVID-19. With the world on lockdown, we need technology now more than ever to stay connected, we’ve turned to the usage of Zoom, and Blackboard Collaborate for school and work. Designers helped create these platforms with usability in mind and to be pandemic friendly with certain features to help mimic some normalcy to our experience such as the “Raise Hand” function. “Each new technological era brings its own malady, a sense of displacement that inevitably accompanies innovation — that is why innovation is often disruptive.” (Antonelli, 15)

In the second reading, Shannon Mattern takes a look at the exhibition from The Museum of Modern Art “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects”. Divided into 5 categories, the exhibit emphasized the scale, nature of, and directionality of the objects’ communicative process or content of nearly 200 objects. These objects were to represent things that speak to us and tell a story about themselves without people being able to physically interact with most of the objects on display. Objects “were able to ‘talk to us’ formally, through their shape, size, and materials what they do” (Mattern, 244). The exhibit was meant to create more awareness within people, whether it be of their actions, their personal relationships or with the world. The create interactive element with visitors, QR codes were placed next to objects, “codes linked to the Stamen Design-created Talk to Me website, which collated text, images, and videos (much of the same material available in the gallery) that provided a composite portrait of each object.” (Mattern, 245).

MoMA — Talk to Me Exhibit

In the eyes of UX, this exhibit presented to have experience flaws for visitors, with the need to switch between real time experience to digital through the use of QR codes which did not provide a contrasting experience to the in-person. Designers of this exhibit should have kept the user in mind and adapted to the challenges presented by the non-interactive style of this exhibit to create a more fluid experience.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What are some current technological innovations that are pushing the envelope in terms of societal change?
  2. Are there any technologies that will be a negative change for our future?

Works Cited:

Week 12 Antonelli, Paola, editor. Design and the Elastic Mind. New York, Museum of Modern Art, 2008, pp. 14–27.

Mattern, Shannon. “Exhibition Reviews: Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects.” Design and Culture, vol. 4, no. 3, 2012, pp. 369–372.

Word Count: 530




Student of the DXD program at George Brown.

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