Openness for Diversity
The ideals of Universal and Inclusive Design often lead to a “one-size-fits-all” solution, and a design full of compromises, not really attractive for anybody. Who has the right to define who should be included in the inclusive design? Who defines who is excluded? People are diverse. Diversity is the beauty of democracy, which is the root of Universal and Inclusive Design. Therefore design solutions should be designed for diversity. In avant-garde, process and concept oriented art from the 1960ies, the role of the audience or user was a central role in the art work. The user’s individual interpretation in the situation was an important creation of the art work’s meaning. Umberto Eco, the famous philosopher and writer developed a ground breaking aesthetic theory, about avant-garde art in 1962. The essay is called “The poetics of the open work”. We find this aesthetic theory to have great potential for today’s design for diversity. Eco analyses music compositions of aleatoric, chance-based, “possible music”. This possible music is realised by the interpreter (user) in real time in the situation. We use Eco’s aesthetic theory to design smart, networked things containing both material (hardware) and software parts. Smart things that is open to many interpretations, interaction forms and situations. Interpretations realised by users, in real time, thereby becoming co-creators of the experience. In this paper we show how we have designed our open, smart, multimodal, networked things, based on the aesthetic open work theory. Further we present the results of our action based studies of children with special needs and their care persons. We show how users realised the designed potential of the smart things.