Team:Paris Bettencourt/Project/Art


Definition Interdisciplinary work research tool

A designer is able to works in all types of fields. They utilize different know-how, expertise and knowledge, to place the project into an appropriate social, economic and cultural context. A designer is also aware of the trends of the time and the evolution of technologies and social tendencies, to imagine prospective scenarios taking place in near and far future. The qualities of a good designer include: curiosity, intuition, imagination, listening skills, sensitivity, ability to questioning, analysis, and synthesis.

Small definition of design

Design is a creative and intellectual process, which is multidisciplinary and humanist. The goal of design is to process and provide solutions to everyday problems, from large to small, related to economic, social, and environmental issues. Design is potentially present everywhere, in line with lifestyles, values, and needs of human beings, users and the public. It contributes to the creation of spaces, communication of visual and audio messages, interfaces, and the production of products and services in order to give them meaning, emotion and identity as well as to improve accessibility and experience.

Initially, we focused on learning the science and types of ongoing research to reach the 30% knowledge threshold in ‘the immersion and discovery phase’. The conception phase started when the specifications of the project were defined. While, our work relationship with the rest of the team improved when we stared working with the materiality of design; including building objects and producing visual artifacts. These two factors allowed the project direction to crystallize and gave us a focus point to start our interdisciplinary research. We then began thinking how to reach the public by combining the protocol elaboration specific to the scientific approach with the user experience and mediation expertise specific to the designer approach.

This combination of approaches allowed us to be catalysts for the project. We designed tools for the citizen science part of the project that enabled other team members a way to process data, designed a probiotic deodorant, and put together a timeline of significant events in the history of body odor, which leads to prospective research on the future of the subject (See below).

We also worked on the global communication of the project, graphic identity, information organization on the wiki, poster, presentation slides, citizen science, cross track art and design scenography. Our main goal was to ensure the best and clearest presentation of the project and making it more accessible to the public. This project showcased the type of research that could be accomplished by combining the precision of scientists with the holist view of designers, which provides a blueprint for future partnerships between designers and scientists.

Designers and biologists working in a lab

This year, two designers joined the Paris-Bettencourt team in order to integrate a design practice into the scientific research of the team. Herein is an account of their experience working on the project and integrating with the team.

What is a designer role in an interdisciplinary project? Can design be self-sufficient when dealing with science? Are we doing science? Are we doing design? or are we playing on a cross-border area in between the two? What happens on this frontier?

These are important questions we were asking ourselves when we joined the iGEM team this year.>br> We needed a role, but how could we find our role into a domain where the design is not an integral component and usually only considered from its aesthetic point of view?

The types of questions our team asked us at the beginning of project included: "Can you do/make something pretty?” "Can you make a drawing?” "Can you think about a shape for the deodorant content?" These questions emphasized that the rest of the team needed to learn as much about design as we did about the scientific approach.

The scientific approach was a good way for us to experiment on what it means to work with living material, with microorganisms at a scale designers are not used to deal with. This abstraction reflects quite well the idea of design, where the unknown is inherent to the practice. When starting to work on a subject in design, the practitioner generally knows about 30% of his subject. The rest is adaptation and research. We think that this naivety towards the subject allows us to approach it a more holistic manner. It also helps us to synthesize and therefore communicated the subject.

We imagine a prospective scenario to help people project the different uses of this technology, and how it could induce changes in our societal organization and relationships to others in the near and distant future.

This timeline is built upon body odor and perfume related history correlated with highlights of hygiene history, medical advances, and science discovery about the skin microbiome. This timeline doesn't aim to be exhaustive and only reflect our research and reflections.

Our research tool

Our relationship to body odors and perfumes has a lot to do with the social perception of the body, the identity, the gender, and the social status of individual.

While working on the project we met with odor experts to approach this subject in all its dimensions: historically, sociologically, philosophically, and artistically. We decided to render a brief history of the sense of smell to synthetize this research. The timeline that we designed allowed us to speculate on the future of people’s relationship to body odor through the lens of the technology our team developed.

Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
Faculty of Medicine Cochin Port-Royal, South wing, 2nd floor
Paris Descartes University
24, rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques
75014 Paris, France
+33 1 44 41 25 22/25
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