Design Storytelling

green laptopYves Behar

Founder of Fuseproject and the slightly more than a $100 dollar laptop, Mr. Behar describes his design approach as “the fusing of storytelling and fluidity, where the potential for technology and poetry, commerce and culture merge with the physical world.”(1)

Early influences include his drama education, a seemingly unconventional start for an industrial designer. Taking a page from the reality of designing for stage productions; where “content always drives the style”(2), he describes his methodology as “building content and ideas, designing from the inside out…”(1). This approach results in designs addressing the user’s full-experience of the object. It begins by writing a story…

Brainstorming sessions start the process, not unlike other design groups such as IDEO. Their process diverges soon after by using scripting and storyboarding to write a scenario for the product. Possibly influenced by the Stanislavsky Method of acting, they concentrate on what the user will experience through their senses, bringing questions about the design and the user to the forefront and developing the story surrounding it’s use. I imagine they use their creative brainstorming sessions to fill out the back story of the product.

We did this in reverse in one of my collegiate acting courses. Taking an item from the home, we journaled on memories associated with the item. I had chosen a plaid oversized shirt, a”favorite” article of clothing. The stories surrounding this shirt did not describe beauty, rather it’s multidimensional use. I had a thousand stories surrounding that shirt, which I used for an extra layer while hanging lights in the theater and protecting my clothes when drawing with charcoal. Apparently I had used it even more frequently than I recalled, for both my teacher (a graduate MFA acting student) and several of my co-worker/students also could tell stories of interactions with me while I wore or loaned out that shirt. Obviously it was a user friendly design, not too precious, didn’t show dirt, big enough to layer but not so heavy it wouldn’t tuck and light enough to add to my backpack and forget about it.

It was this type of broad user experience and impacts by the environment that Mr. Behar began to consider when he thought of the chosen end user for his laptop, but probably in reverse. Much as the character in a play, he knew the character’s name, “laptop”, he knew the hazards that would face it, all the elements of nature, he knew it’s playmates and probably wondered what games they would wish to play and had to consider how to limit handicapping his character’s interaction. His character also had to be able to cloak itself 24/7 to protect itself from thieves by wearing it’s funny clown outfit, the childlike colors and design that would reduce it’s resale value.

Eventually he fused it’s story into a user friendly, fluid, flexible and low maintenance product able to withstand desert storms. Perhaps it will even meet the original goals of the PC, by democratizing the furthest regions of the world. (3) Or at the very least, an improvement in computer interface design and redirection from the complex to the simplified.

(1) interview June 20, 2005

(2)Chang, Jade (2006). All about Yves. May 19, 2006

(3)McCray, Douglas (2006). The laptop crusade Wired 14.08 August 2006.


About ifarmurban

Project Manager residing in sleepless Seattle.
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One Response to Design Storytelling

  1. nancydick says:

    Kudos for researching Behar. His background would appeal to you, of course, with your own drama/stage background.

    Nice tie to simplicity, too.

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