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I'm Daan Wagenaars, I'm a 22-year-old, Industrial Design student at the Eindhoven University of Technology. On this site, you can learn about me and some of the projects I've done. Feel free to look around!

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I believe that it is important for me as a designer to learn from minimalistic designers such as Dieter Rams. Mainly his ten principles of what “good design” is (Vitsoe, n.d.), inspires me. Since I think that, when correctly implemented in a design process, these principles lead to a product that ultimately serves the people.  During the last years the minimalistic design approach has returned in web design (Smith, 2016). In web design it is believed that minimalistic design focusses on usability and economy (Smith, 2016). If you put these values next to the ten principles from Dieter Rams you will see that this means that they want their sites to fulfill all functionalities with as little design as possible. With a self-explanatory site, that fits the user’s needs, as the ultimate goal. 

By learning from these products a designer can work on a clear communication of the products purpose and use. I think that this can adhere to the user experience. As has been pointed out by the most successful designs the anticipation of users’ needs is key to the reception of your design. To establish this user research is needed and I like to include this in my process to allow for clear communication between the product and user.

Eventually I see myself designing for events. With events I think about festivals, giant sporting activities, one-off shows at a theme park, and so on. To me, events are a combination of unity and acceptance between individual groups from different places and social layers, and I would love to add to this by designing the stages. The user interaction is done mainly through visuals and sound but that’s what makes it interesting to me. Since the sound and visuals are intertwined in their function that it is hard to separate them without taking away a major part of the experience. Furthermore the approach to design is centered around a predefined theme that the organization of the event has agreed on. All in all the combination of strengths from a large group of people is something in the process of designing for events that I put a lot of value in. For example the stage that was designed by Es Devlin for the Superbowl half time show of 2022 (Figure 1). This stage was used by Snoop Dog, Eminem, 50 Cent and more artists (Gorny, 2022), it was set up to symbolize different places that have been of importance in the lives of the artists (Gorny, 2022).Together with the music and their dancers they were able to provide an authentic feeling with their show and they made the crowd go wild. This all because of the combination of sound and visual that strengthened each other.

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Figure 1. Superbowl half time show stage from Es Devlin. 2022. (Gorny, 2022)

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Professional Identity

As a designer I focus on practicality and usability. This means that I try to use my visual mindset, practical skills, and empathic nature to determine how a product comes into use in the daily life of the eventual user. With this I try to account for how a product will be used and what kind of expectations can be projected onto my designs by possible users.

My strengths as a designer lie within realizing the full prototypes as well as the approach of the design problem from different angles. These strengths help me in approaching technological and user-focused designs. I am inspired by new technology and its possibilities. Overall I tend to be minimalistic when it comes to the aesthetics of a design since I believe that this helps in adhering to the practicality and usability of a design. To visualize this you can think about the phrase “Less is more” that is often linked to minimalism. I think this is beneficial for the users and will ultimately help me in designing my products by my standards. 

During the past years I have tried designing for users mostly within the healthcare sector. However, during my internship I worked at a company that builds stages for all kinds of events. And at these events they make the set-up crew, the visitors, the musicians, presenters, and all kinds of people happy with their product. To end up there I need to work on my creativity and engineering as well as my communication skills. These are all very important things that come together when working on projects as big and important as is done within this working field.

In my vision I talk about developments from the past that resonate to my vision for the future. In this my identity as a designer contributes by wanting to make things that people can quickly understand and thereby easily work into their daily life. In the process to do so it is necessary to involve the user. Since without knowing about them you can not work on designing a satisfactory product. I often use existing technologies in a new context. Afterwards I perform usertests to learn about how the application of the technology is received by users. In that process I learn more about what the user wants and from there I can advise on or conduct future user tests.

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Math, Data & Computing

This expertise area to me is important for the collection, processing, and visualization of data from participants in a respectful, private, and safe manner. It deals with enabling others perform the same tests a you as well as them being able to generate similar datasets. By improving in this area you should be able to generate software that can be used by others as well as documenting it so that they can change it if needed. Last but no least, it can’t be forgotten that this expertise area is connected to User & Society and Technology & Realization. Given that handling different kinds of data, whether it is user test data or calculations on your technical parts, to me, is important during a design process. Since I try to build durable experienceable prototypes that fit into the lives of the users.

Starting this study I had little experience with data gathering, software writing, and technical calculations. But during the past years, I have learned about different kinds of methods. My preferred way of collecting data is by presenting the users with different parts or ideas of my concept. Afterwards, I often present them statements in combination with a Likert scale (Mcleod, 2008). I think that even though this allows for a neutral option it provides numerical data that can be averaged. I know that open questions can provide you with themes in answers that can be processed. However, over the years I have learned that my strength lies in processing numerical data by using excel. I have basic knowledge of python but the sizes of my user studies have not yet been so great that I felt the need to use python.

I have worked with Arduino, Processing, and macro’s in Excel. Adding this variation in my studies helped me learn about different possibilities and where my strengths lie. After working with these programs for multiple years I have grown fond of Arduino. The direct link with a range of microprocessors and the large variety of knowledge existing provides a good baseline to work from. Furthermore, the debugging and clear construction of the frame for your code helps in keeping an overview of what is going on. I have heard about programs like Github that allow multiple people to work in the same code simultaneously. I haven’t yet used them so that will be something for future group projects to experience.

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Business & Entrepreneurship

To me Business & Entrepreneurship focusses on the marketability of designs. It does this by motivating the designer to think about how they are marketing their product, who do they want to reach, what do you offer to your customers. This expertise can help you identify the correct stakeholders early on. This then allows you to focus your design on the correct target group from early on. For this there is a very broad selection of methods that can help strengthen a design. Not only when you want to bring a design to the market but as well during the process of designing such a product. So, for me, this expertise area is strongly connected to the areas Creativity & Aesthetics, and User & Society.

During the past years I have learned about numerous methods to compare my designs with competitors. For example, you can have a customer value map (McDevitt, 2021), SWOT-analysis (MindTools Content Team, 2022) or stakeholder map (Shin, n.d.). There are many more but the ones I often like to use are the SWOT-analysis (MindTools Content Team, 2022) and the stakeholder map (Shin, n.d.). I like to do this because these methods point out possibilities and help you find your target groups. Within a process you have different groups of people that want different things. With a SWOT-analysis (MindTools Content Team, 2022) you can identify the opportunities in a specific field. By then identifying the different stakeholders in this field you can find out who is targeted with your product and who needs to understand the value to this target group. These methods are the reason that I often at the start of a project look into some of the existing products and techniques. Because I believe that this can help you identify strengths and weaknesses of your product during the design process.

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User & Society

User & Society is the expertise area that focusses on how a designer should approach its target user. For me, it is the expertise area that stands central to all others. As a designer the user is essential to your product so it is important that they are treated with the empathy and respect they deserve. I think that this can best be done by approaching design problems from a societal and user-centred perspective. Since I believe this lies at the core of the design process this affects all different expertise areas. By that believe you could say that I see the user as the central part around which the design is made.

During my design process I like to focus on the design first before I verify it with the users. This works for me because I often have a trail of thought and research that can back up my decisions in the design process. For me this ensures that when I approach users I have a clear story to tell and I can fill them in on all questions that they could have. I feel like this helps me to get structured data from the user tests, which will in turn help in guiding the design to where it needs to be. This is done to present the user with something that they might not have expected to appreciate. Since I have grown to understand that if you plain out ask what people want you won’t get a helpful answer.

In preparation to my user test I often look for ways to make sure that the user test doesn’t need to be on the Ethical Review Board’s (ERB) desk for a long period of time. I make sure that the name of participants is barely or not used during the study, and consent request and make sure that they can always back out of the study. Furthermore, I provide them with my information so they can contact me when they have questions or requests. I even test physical prototypes or physical experiences myself so I can get a general of what the participants will experience. Overall these seem like really basic values but I like to believe that, by adhering to these values, I create a safe environment for my user studies so participants don’t feel limited in what they can and can’t say.

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Creativity & Aesthetics

This expertise area is one of the areas I have had to work on from the beginning of my studies. Not in the way that I am not a creative person, more that I find it difficult to put my ideas on paper or explain them. And for an expertise area that benefits from being able to use all kinds of different iteration techniques this is quite essential. Creativity & aesthetics to me is that expertise. It encourages you to think about the shapes, colours, and materials your prototype is made of but goes hand-in-hand with User & Society. Furthermore, it collaborates with your expertise in Technology & Realization. Because if a product should be experienceable it is important that it is realizable.

Generating design ideas was often done through brainstorming sessions. However, this would not always lead to the best results since I could at times become too focused on one particular idea. To counter this I decided to try something different this semester. I discovered the Vision in Product Design model (ViP model)(Lloyd et al., 2006). Using this model at the beginning of my project resulted in a much broader spectrum of designs that could possibly be chosen to continue with. With this spectrum I can continue by selecting 3 based on the guidelines for the design that are determined during this part of the project. From there on I can work towards one definitive design. Before last semester I found it hard to find a creative flow to work from. Using the ViP model in the beginning of the project turned out to be very effective for me. This model keeps my mind away from thinking about the realization of the designs and allows me to focus on generating ideas.

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